Xiang (Shawn) Cao
It is the alarm clock (or, more precisely as interpreted by my colleague Li Ye who attended this year’s academy as well, the ideal and dream) woke me up on this Wednesday morning in Chiang Mai. On the way to the conference room, I ran into another delegate who had champagne with us together last night to overcome his jet lag – thanks to the champagne he rested well and looked energetic while I was still a little bit of dizzy. “The champagne worked but you just got overdosed…” With laughter we walked into the conference room where we started the morning session.
Henry Shi first made his presentation in respect of the cultural differences in doing business, and then Arnaud Picard illustrated the cultural differences in international arbitrations. The topics covered ranged from selecting arbitrators to punctuality all the way to the life after retirement. The differences are so distinct and no doubt the knowledge of them would help international lawyers get to the right point directly, just like German’s way of thinking in a straight line as introduced by Henry. Then the delegates were divided into 5 groups with each group having 6 members to exchange their understanding of their own cultures. My group covered different cultures among The Netherlands, Cambodia, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Sri Lanka and China and we had really impressive discussions, including how to take advantage of the knowledge of the culture differences in negotiations – as a dirty trick or not.
Then we heard continued personal presentations from the delegates about how their city looks, the judicial system of their country, the colourful dress code of the court in their jurisdiction, their marriage and wedding culture, and the words to the lawyer husband on the Chinese Valentine’s Day.
After talking about cultures, we were arranged to embrace the local culture during the rest of the day. Maybe only the photos could describe the fun that we had when attending Thai cookery classes making herbal balls, Thai massage, as well as the rice planting – not only because it was fun, but also for the hilarious outfits we put on ourselves. The local villagers seemed happy with our work, or maybe just with the way we are trying to be professional as we always are – at least they kept assigning new work, saw us off friendly, and did not tear down what we planted… before we left. Night falls and we jumped into the night bazaar and streets of Chiang Mai with some wandering on the streets and the others on the rooftop, till we called it a day and travelled back to the hotel.
I might have a colourful dream tonight, with a red van, green fields, an orange straw tunnel, navy innocent suits, white herbal balls, a blue dessert, purple iced drinks, a golden temple, a brown cat, and the glorious smiles of everyone.