Note: This is part 4 of a series. Click here for part 1, part 2, and part 3.
In China, there are laws concerning the conditions under which a person from a foreign country can teach English. Technically, one needs to have a college degree (not necessarily in English) and two years of working experience before being able to teach. As with many laws in China, the further you get from Beijing, the less these laws are enforced. Out where I am, it seems like the local authorities completely ignore the section of the law that pertains to foreign teachers. It is quite common to see 18 or 19 year olds that are here in China not to study, but to teach. These kids consider a one year contract to teach as a one year license to party. Given China's lack of drinking laws and the fact that 18 year olds can be shameless punks (I know, I used to be one.), this leads to the creation of the fourth species of foreigners in China-the "Party Kids".
In the US, many 18 year olds take advantage of their newfound liberation from parental oppression by doing as much damage to their liver as possible. However, laws keep the teenagers somewhat bridled in. The minimum drinking age, public drinking laws, and the barring of admittance into bars and clubs do a somewhat decent job of restricting teenage partying to small events that take place in the privacy of someone's home after a "cool" older friend buys a couple of 6-packs. Financial restrictions also keep a lid on the festivities. Most 18 or 19 year olds are broke, so they can't afford to go out on the town that often. China doesn't have any drinking laws, but the culture keeps Chinese teenagers from going crazy. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, Chinese teenagers are more childlike and innocent than American teenagers. Put a few 18 year olds from America, Canada, Australia, etc. in a place with no drinking laws, give them enough money to support a 5 day a week drinking habit, and what do you get? The "Party Kids." As if teenagers don't feel invincible enough, living in China only exacerbates the problem. Relatively high salary and the attention given to foreigners combine to create little pimply-faced gods. Not only can these punks easily get their hands on alcohol, but they can also drink it in public AND have a crowd ooohhing and ahhhing at them while they do it. Because of their foreign status, the "Party Kids" can get away with stuff that would never fly in their home countries.
The "Party Kids'" behavior can be downright appalling. I'm not even going to mention what they do in the confines of a bar or dance club, as these are places designed for debauchery. The problem lies in the fact that these kids don't keep their bar behavior in the bar, they bring the party to the streets with a vengeance. In the city where I live there is a pedestrian street lined with stores and restaurants. In the middle of this street there is an open air area that serves food as well as beer. The atmosphere in this place should be family-orientated, as families that do their shopping on the pedestrian street stop in this area for a bite to eat, bringing their children. The "Party Kids" like to turn what should be a family friendly area into a raunchy redneck bar. On one occasion, my wife and I saw a group of them bring out a guitar and drunkenly SCREAM out songs as a group. Of course, this piqued the curiosity of the locals and many people passing by were stopping to stare and take pictures. Fueled by the extra attention that they would not have received in their own home country, the "Party Kids" proceeded to sing louder. (Note: This species of foreigner is closely related to the "Attention Seeker") Another time, my wife and I managed to catch the spectacle of a "pissing contest". No, I don't mean that we saw an argument, I mean that we saw an actual urination contest out in the open air. The "Party Kids" were standing on tables, peeing into pitchers to see who could produce the most urine. So classy....Much to my embarrassment, the Chinese people were all staring.
Whenever I see these kids galavanting around, ruining the image of foreigners, I want to snap their necks. However, if I did so, I would be a huge hypocrite. When I was 18, I was a stupid punk as well. If I were 18 in China, I might have participated in the very same idiotic activities that the "Party Kids" engage in. Kids will be kids. Even though kids will be kids, these kids prompt Chinese people to tell me, "Foreigners are all crazy," or ask me, "Why are the foreigners in China of such low quality?" The "Party Kids" probably don't realize, or care, that they represent the WHOLE foreign world in the eyes of the Chinese. Until every city in China begins to enforce the laws concerning foreign teachers, the "Party Kids" will continue to flourish.
"Party Kids", we salute you.