Holland’s renowned International Butler Academy opened its first branch in China last month in Chengdu, in a bid to take advantage of the substantial increase in demand for domestic servants for China’s growing wealthy elite.
Domestic help for wealthy mainlanders has generally come from the migrant worker population and tended to be middle aged women from the countryside. However, as China’s richer classes’ tastes change and diversify, rural ayis may not be able to keep up with their employers’ demands.
Data from the International Association of Professional Housekeepers shows that demand for butlers has grown significantly in the past ten years whilst demand in Western countries has steadily declined- only around 10,000 butlers still work in Britain today, a 50 percent decline since the 1930’s.
The school offers three week courses for hospitality training and steward training, which cost 27,000 RMB, and six week butler training courses. In addition to the 4 teachers from Europe and America, there are plans to hire a local instructor to teach specialized courses such as Chinese place setting.
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Keywords: Butlers in China
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I think some of you guys might be jumping to conclusions here, I don't see the article specifically saying that the chinese are looking to hire westerners as butlers. I read this as being about a new training school for servants run by foreign instructors. Honestly if I was a wealthy mainlander with half a brain (but also no motivation to spend time with my children) I wouldn't want my kid exposed to the behavior of a lot of these Ayis, learning to cut in line and that it's OK to litter and spit. I personally would never get a full time child care servant cause you know frankly I really cherished the time I got to spend with my own Dad growing up, but I could totally see there being a demand for domestic help that isn't going to teach your kid to act like an asshole. Having an honest-to-god imitation British butler would be super pretentious I agree...but having a halfway decent nanny is something a rational person of means could be into. Just a rational person who doesn't like their kids or whose job forces them to travel a lot.
Aug 17, 2014 15:11 Report Abuse
The Chinese have a lot to learn from the long, illustrious and 'classy' history of the Western capitalist elite. Figuring out how to treat poor people like shit doesn't come easy - you need centuries of stratified gentrification and incessant inbreeding to create the chinless wonders that some hat-wringing plebs here consider to be 'classy'. This "My culture is better than yours" nonsense is some of the most childish bullshit I have ever read. If people spitting makes you cry then I dare say that you are in the wrong fucking country.
Aug 17, 2014 10:39 Report Abuse
are you joking? Do you really think that pre-western contact China was some egalitarian paradise? China isn't all bad, but it's not great either. It's just a place that has various things to offer and for many of us the good outweighs the bad. Being against spitting isn't just some elitist bullshit either...that shit spreads disease. Sounds like youre trying to rationalize your life by saying others are weak for having hygiene standards?
Aug 17, 2014 15:22 Report Abuse
I want to warn people against considering this as a viable alternative to teaching. Think about it: As a teacher, you are useful if not vital to the success of the school, and they will try to keep you on, even if they don't like you personally. In a butler's situation, you are an incidental novelty to them, useful only for gaining face as long as the novelty lasts. You can't form a normal friendship with your master, as that would break the formality a traditional butler must abide by. It doesn't matter how much they say you'll get paid; you won't get paid for very long. I compare it to a hotel job I applied for in Chengdu: Duty Hall Manager. I built on my security guard expertise from my part time job at uni, and really hoped for the job. Eventually they chose 4 foreigners who spoke good Chinese over me. A month later I got a message on Skype from my interviewer, saying he and all the other foreign staff were fired after 2 weeks for no clear reason.. The moral of the story is: There's no point learning Chinese, and you should look at motivation and situation more than words and promises when finding a job. If you want money from the wealthy elite, you're better off masquerading as golf instructor at a private club. You are a short-term novelty, and you get paid before they're bored with you. Butler/Guard/etc. are long term occupations, and your novelty will wear off, then they'll decide to replace you with cheaper staff.
Aug 08, 2014 16:39 Report Abuse
Perhaps, but knowing Chinese rigid expectations and emphasis on appearances, even a properly trained local butler will be seen as a fraud, and can't provide the 'face gain' of a butler with a white face anyway. Face is what such a servant is hired for, after all.
Aug 17, 2014 15:09 Report Abuse
Thats true and I'm sure there are certain types that would eat that shit up having a foreign butler. But how would they get a visa? Tough sell to the immigration bureau they need a foreigner to clean their homes. I'm sure it's happened already in isolated cases but I don't see it becoming a big long-term trend.
Aug 17, 2014 15:27 Report Abuse
So, locals will be out of jobs (shitty jobs, but still a source of some income), and Westerners will be used as props in other to make their masters feel superior with a racist/nationalistic tinge ("You Westerners aren't high and mighty now. I got Westerners serving me, calling me 'Sir', and knowing their proper place.").
Aug 08, 2014 06:26 Report Abuse
You are the one person here who can't grasp irony. Butlers are a bastion of class, and class is something Chinese people do not have. --- The people who will be hiring butlers here are unsophisticated, uncultured, uncivilised nouveau riche, with no comprehension of how far below the common standards of Western society they exist. They would not recognise common etiquette if it bit their kid on the ass while he was shitting on the floor through his split pants. Imagining a butler in a Chinese household is an amusing notion, as all of the above posters have noted. --- Regarding the "decline" of Europe and America: Between them they produce pretty much everything good in the world. For all China's declarations of self-importance, no one wants anything that China produces, except cheap factory products. --- I suggest a deal, though. You go and read a Jane Austen novel (or the Chinese equivalent). If you can find a bit about polite society where people spit and defecate everywhere, shout instead of talking, and have no interest in intelligent conversation, I'll concede this point entirely.
Aug 08, 2014 01:05 Report Abuse
I agree entirely. A great portion of the upper classes in Britain may indeed be complete assholes, but I'm pretty sure they don't spit on the floor during dinner or let their kids shit in front of other people. Human decency aside (I'm not making any arguments for it), being classy requires a degree of behavioral constraint which is beyond Chinese people.
Aug 08, 2014 12:56 Report Abuse
I think the issue might be the terms used, and precision of terminology. "Class" here is more like "manners", or "politeness", based on social conventions, rather than morality or ethics. I've met some Chinese from the countryside with what would be considered poor manners (spitting, letting children urinate on the sidewalk), but decent people who just didn't know better. Conversely, plenty of slave owners were well-educated, and acted with what could be considered "class", but while they acted with courtesy and politeness (not spitting, speaking quietly, showing patience, etc.), they also owned people. These are extreme examples, but the point is that politeness isn't the same as ethics and morality, and "class" can be a bit ambiguous. Though, it is true that many Chinese seem to lack both.
Aug 09, 2014 04:27 Report Abuse