The Trouble with Commitment

It seems that the Chinese have a different idea of commitment. To me, commitment means doing something full-out, without holding back, taking risks, and pushing yourself every step of the way. I’m not sure that’s the case here at Shantou University.

Today, I had a rather bad rehearsal. I was very close to loosing my composure several times. Last night, I text messaged the cast telling them to be there at 9AM. Since they have been working with me for awhile they know I cannot tolerate two things: tardiness and cell phones. So, they were on time. However, the off-stage chorus shows up at 9:30AM to 9:45AM, even after spending a lot of time with the off-stage chorus directors in a meeting the week before agreeing that the off-stage chorus would come early to work with the cast. A miscommunication? or just another example that the music directors do not really care for this show?

I could handle a 9:30 start but alas, there was no band. So, I talk and attempt to fill time as I pray for the band to show up. Two members of the band arrive by 9:50AM (they were supposed to be ready to play at 9:30). Oh wonderful! Then, we must, of course, set up the instruments. By 10:15, we’re at least rehearsing, be it slowly.

10:45 – the drummer decides to join us. The drummer is a professional musician. I pay him out of my budget to play for this show. I can’t decide not to use him because he’s the only drummer in town that can read a drum score. He probably knows that I can’t get rid of him.

I should stop to say that three more members of the band and several members of my cast did not show up, period. No calls, no messages, just no shows. Upon calling these folks, they had “something to do.” Obviously.

Tardiness and absence without cause or notice are like saying, “I don’t care.” The worst part is having students tell me, after missing a rehearsal without letting me know, that they do care and are “committed.” It’s probably easiest to write this off as students not making a priority of the musical (I won’t even go to talking about professional musicians). However, this happens with school (which supposedly is an important thing to a student) as students are late or absent to class all the time. If they’re not devoted to rehearsal nor devoted to school, what are they devoted to?

My brain wants to tell me that the Chinese are the stereotype of the hard working, devoted individual. But I don’t see it. I see students who get a kick in the butt one day and work hard and then the next day fall back to showing up late. There is no long-term commitment and dedication to fulfilling each step, no value in the details. From my observations of folks here so far, commitment is saying one is committed and that is about it. It’s unfortunate. Don’t say what you’re going to do. Do it

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2 thoughts on “The Trouble with Commitment”

  1. That is what years of communism have done to China… The hardworking culture and value has changed. People get the same lack of “reward” whether they show up and work or not, makes no difference as long as one says that he is a true party member. Same thing in Russia. Now they are on the verge to swing to the extreme opposite, where making money is everything and inspite of everything. The balance is hard to find.

  2. That is what years of communism have done to China… The hardworking culture and value has changed. People get the same lack of “reward” whether they show up and work or not, makes no difference as long as one says that he is a true party member. Same thing in Russia. Now they are on the verge to swing to the extreme opposite, where making money is everything and inspite of everything. The balance is hard to find.

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