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Learning to be a perfect lady proves fruitful

By Cang Wei and Song Wenwei  (China Daily)

09:46, May 31, 2013

Sara Jane Ho (right), founder of China's first school of etiquette, teaches her students how to use napkins. Photo by Wu Hailang for China Daily

Etiquette courses are on the rise in Nanjing.

Most Chinese are familiar with the old saying "Daughters should be brought up in rich surroundings", but spending 10,000 yuan ($1,630) a day to study etiquette is still beyond many people's imaginations.

At the Institute Sarita finishing school in Beijing, one of the skills students are shown is how to halve oranges elegantly using a knife and fork.

Sara Jane Ho, the founder of China's first school of etiquette, demonstrated the initial step to her students. She cut off one end of an orange, allowing it to stand firmly on the plate, and then sliced the fruit from top to bottom with deliberate care until the segmented halves blossomed like flowers.

"Ladies" also remove orange seeds from their mouths in an elegant way, according to Ho. She told the students they should first cover their mouths with one hand, and then use the thumb and the first finger of the other to pick out the seeds, which should be put on the side of their plates later.

"Graceful women don't make a sound when they eat," said Ho. "Displaying manners shows people that you respect them, that your individual needs and conveniences can be subordinated to put other people first in a very selfless way. And that is an important attribute for any society, Eastern or Western, rich or poor, traditional or modern."

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