The news this week that Debrett’s are to open an office in Shanghai has prompted me to reflect on the past year. Always setting the trend where others seek to follow, 2014 is the first anniversary of our official launch in China.
Firstly, we visited regularly to give tuition on request to schools and private individuals, hotels and country club complexes and then private clubs in Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Chengdu, with an unprecedented demand for etiquette and business protocol programmes. But it is so much more than that, and the cross cultural integration tuition for which we are so well known is as popular now as social graces, as the Chinese population realise that in order for them to be educated, live and do business with the West, they need to learn not only how their counterparts react, but also how to speak the lingo and walk the walk to social acceptance. Money talks, and designer labels show a growing awareness of luxury and lifestyle, but without social and business know-how, acceptance, and therefore success, is sometimes hard to come by.
Our first office opened in Chengdu in early 2013 and I officially opened it in October when I was delighted to visit Chengdu and Shanghai. We now have offices in both cities and have led various projects there as well as Beijing, Qingdao, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Guangzhou over the past months. Continuing our highly successful partnership with David Charles, we have enjoyed a wide range of media coverage, including CCTV, China News Daily, China Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle and Tatler, for whom our own senior tutor William Hanson is now penning a monthly column on Western etiquette.
This summer sees the launch of various summer school initiatives in the UK with our Asian partners as well as some fabulous cultural learning programmes based in England, Scotland and France.
None of this would have been possible without the support of our tremendous Chinese staff and our wonderful team of tutors and experts who continually clock up their air miles flying to clients around the world.
Manners maketh man. There were a few years in the 90s when people seemed to think the age of chivalry and social grace was dead. It didn’t last long: modern manners have evolved from tradition and the belief that we all like to be treated well, so it stands to reason that to conduct successful lives, at home and at work, first impressions set the tone, and in the end, we all respond to some grace, kindness and consideration; ensuring a more harmonious international and integrated environment.