Blog Entries

It’s All about Serving Well

In the mid 1990s I had the opportunity to do a cross-cultural training internship with the late great Dr. Don Larson, at Linkcare Center in Fresno, CA. Dr. Larson was the author of several books on language and culture learning, including the seminal book, Guidelines for Barefoot Language Learning: An Approach Through Involvement and Independence.

At the center of the pre-field training program that he had developed, and which I had the privilege of working with him on, was the concept of living well where you don’t belong. Put simply, living well where you don’t belong means graciously living as an outsider, with all the accompanying frustrations and undeserved privileges. That notion has had a profound impact on subsequent work in the field of cross-cultural training, so much so that I have adopted it as the “subtitle” of my personal blog.

Two years ago, I adapted that concept for an online course that we launched as part of our ChinaSource Institute initiative. Hosted on the Udemy platform, the course, Serving Well in China, presents a framework with which to process the complexities of China, as well as tools to navigate the myriad of cultural differences one experiences. Since the launch in 2016, more than 1300 students have enrolled in the course. You can read the reviews on the course page.

The course consists of five short videos (between 11 and 20 minutes in length), plus a quiz, reflection/discussion questions, and recommended resources for further study. The content includes:

  • Valuable information and insight on contemporary Chinese society and culture.
  • An explanation of various cultural “rules” that govern how Chinese interact with one another.
  • Practical advice on managing cultural differences.
  • A description of the educational system and how it directly informs the worldview of people in China.
  • An examination of areas of expectation that may need to be adjusted.
  • Key principles for successful adjustment and living in China.

My former colleague Amy Young and I are the instructors of the course. Amy is a regular ChinaSource contributor and author of the book Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-cultural Service. Together we have more than 20 years of experience training and equipping people to work in China.

This being the season when many are making plans to go to China, either as a tourist, on a short-term missions trip, or to serve for an extended period of time, it’s a good time to consider joining those 1300+ students and signing up for the course.

The retail cost of enrolling is $29.99; however, you can use the coupon code CS2018 to receive a $5.00 discount.

If you are interested in a larger group discount for the course, please contact us at for more information.

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio

Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.