It’s a stereotype, but also kind of true, that Chinese people excel in math and science, yet come up short in imagination and creativity. In fact, there have been a few polls in the news recently reporting just that. (And it’s a problem we come up against in the classroom too.)

But maybe we have been measuring things wrong. I mean, how did those tests measure creativity? Through problem solving and other “out of the box” questions? But that’s so typical. What if we came up with a new creativity test, one in which would pitch Chinese people and Americans on equal creative grounds.A true out of the box test if you will. If there are any sociologists in the audience I’d like to humbly suggest my own idea for a test, because I’m curious to see who would win. The test? Snowman making!

We live in southern China where snow is a novelty. But this year we had days, and days and days of it, and it really accumulated (probably 6 or so inches). The cleanup was long and messy due to unpreparedness (I heard a thousand soldiers were called in to shovel the Hangzhou airport) but it has also opened the floodgate of Chinese creativity. Large piles of snow become more than just an annoyance, they become a canvas for the artist. We went to Hangzhou yesterday and say dozens of tiny snow carved masterpieces. They were everywhere too, on top of cars, garbage cans, and in the middle of the street. Here are some of the best ones.

I like the uses of cheap plastic bags and small branches to add features.

They forgo the typical top hat, carrot nose and coal eyes for innovation and a touch of “Chinese-ness.” And these weren’t built by people in some snowman making competition, rather just plain old regular people, like doorman at the hotels, parents outside (with their kids watching) and workers in little stalls in the tourist district. Frosty, watch you back!

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