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14 posts from March 2013

03/25/2013

CIEE Beijing takes Nanjing!

Friday, we left for a weekend excursion to Nanjing. Nanjing is one of the oldest cities in China. It has served as the country’s capital during the Ming Dynasty, but today is best known for the Yangtze River and the Nanjing Massacre. 

We took the slow train there, which took approximately 12 hours and tested out the hard sleepers. 

train

We then visited the Fuzi Temple, also known as the Nanjing Confucius Temple. Constructed during the Song Dynasty, this temple was a place to worship Confucius.

fuzi

Our first stop in Nanjing was the Zhongshan Botanical Garden, which was made in memory of modern-day China’s founder Dr. Sun Yat-sen. It is the first national botanical garden in China.

garden

Later on Saturday, we went to the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, which is one of the biggest imperial tombs in China. It was completed in 1431, and the first Ming Dynasty emperor and empress are buried there.

memorial

One of our last stops on Saturday was the Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic of China. The whole complex covers 20 acres, but to get to the actual mausoleum, we had to climb 392 stairs!

sys

The Nanjing Massacre/Rape of Nanjing was a period of mass murder conducted by the Japanese on the Chinese during World War II. An estimated 300,000 people died in six weeks. The museum was on a site of one of the mass murders.

massacre

We went to Yuantoushi Wetlands Park, where we saw the Yangtze River – the longest river in Asia.

wetlands

Our last stop in Nanjing was the Zhonghuamen Citadel, which is the largest gate of Nanjing’s city wall. The city wall was first constructed in the Southern Tang Dynasty and later reconstructed in the Ming Dynasty. The citadel is 128 meters long and 118 meters wide.

citadel

My Visit to a Chinese Family

昨天我的辅导请我和朋友一起吃晚饭,然后她辅导我的作业。

 

Yesterday my tutor invited me to dinner with some friends, and then she’d help me after.

 

Of course I to said “yes”, who turns down an opportunity to make new friends while eating some free food XD. ~ Not I, even though she invited me to dinner while I was having dinner with my host-family. ~

 

When I got there I met up with my tutor outside. We walked in and she briefed me on the situation. Apparently one of the friends had a son and he was looking for an English tutor, and he was willing to pay an unspecified amount. She told him about me, but nothing he wanted to meet me before he made anything official.

 

We got to the apartment, and there were three men sitting at the table. They were laughing and arguing in Chinese. I was asked to sit next to the guy looking for a tutor.

 

Before I even sat down, the men already asked me, “Do you drink? How much Bijiu can you handle?”.  I was honest. I told them I don’t drink often, but that I’ll have some. They brought out a 4 once glass and filled it about a third of the way.

They then told me to eat. They gave me a bowl and chopsticks and started describing the food at the table. I told them that I was Okay because I just finished dinner before arriving. That didn’t deter them though. It prompted them to ask me if I think the food looked disgusting and horrible. So at that point I started to grab some food, even though full.

 

The other guys started to 聊天. They were having a jolly old time. They laughed and yelled, and laughed and joked and just having a blast. I was surprised and impressed and completely lost in the conversation.

 

Oh, did I mention one of the guys was from Boston? His Chinese was incredible. In the entire 3 hours we were there eating and drinking, He only asked my tutor twice for a translation. What surprised me was when he couldn’t translations something in Chinese into English.

 

Throughout the night, my glass of BiJiu was refilled plenty of times… 8 times if I remember correctly. But they were never filled all the way. First few were only a third of the way full. Then they started serving more and more. They toasted often, and encourage everyone to participate. By the end of the night, I felt a slight buzz but was alright for the most part.

 

The other American was completely 醉. He became really touchy and hands-on. Called everyone 朋友. He didn’t want to leave and wanted to stay, but it was 10:30 and I just moved in with a Chinese family, (future post). I didn’t want to come home late and have my homestay parents stay up late, but didn’t want to ruin the party. So I called home and told them I’d be late.  我回家晚了. My tutor over heard and use that as an excuse to get her drunk friend to agree to leave.

 

 Didn’t get any help on my homework, but I did learn. Chinese families love to offer plenty of BIjiu and want you to eat a decent amount of food or else they’ll think you don’t like it. Tutor was postponed to today, plans are always adapting to the environment (reference to last post).

03/21/2013

Ghost

***********************************************************

“The
most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”

― Thales

***********************************************************

    We see so much of ourselves
on any given day. Our faces in the mirror, our goals, our individual thoughts
and perspectives. What is more, we all want to like what we see when we look at
ourselves. We want to see success, intelligence, beauty, strength maybe.

Well, let me tell you
something. You will never see yourself more clearly or know yourself more
intimately, than when you are looking into the face and perspective of someone else.

  Under the veil of smog and a hazy cloud
cover, he comes and goes quietly, kind of like an apparition. It's almost as if
he rolls in on the nasty wave of smog that canvases the city in the early
morning. Most people do not see him, perhaps because they choose not to, or
maybe they are afraid that he lies dead on the busy walkway beneath his soiled
blanket, behind his empty tin can.

    I've laid eyes on him only twice...maybe
three times, I can't be sure. He usually lays face-down on the ground, lifeless
and flat, as the wind, other people, and life itself quickly sweep past him. A
puddle of tears or drool or maybe a combination, slide out on the ground beneath
him where he lay his face. 

    Each time I see him, I feel the life sucked
out of me, dreading his current state of nothingness, my mind is racing with
questions of how to help him, should I help him, how did this happen….they run
in a heavy stream over my brain in the instant it takes just to glance in his
direction.

    When I turn to look the other way across
the brige, however, I feel even more suffocated. Skyscrapers, luxury vehicles,
designer bags, clothes, expensive accessories…the very face of consumerism. It’s
almost dizzying to see this sort of contrast first hand. I know it happens
everywhere, but I’ve never seen it the way it looks here. This is partially
due, of course, to the ridiculous number of well-off people in this city.

    Having studied China and its cultures and
languages, and economics and general, the idea of a disparity gap, such as the
one I’ve played witness to, is not new knowledge. I guess it just looks a
little different, here.

 In relation to China, we typically hear about
the enormous wealth that gets poured into major metropolitan areas like
Beijing, while the people in the countryside experience insufferable poverty. I
guess this is the first time, in my past three trips to China that I can see
the countryside scratching at the city’s back door.  

    On most days, I wake up, eat the breakfast
of fruits and tea laid out for me by my host mom, hop on the bus, and sit in
classes at the nation’s number one university. Sounds like a good day right?

Absolutely!

But today, was different. I
woke up and looked out the window as I do on most days, but instead of noting
the weather or the amount of smog in the air, I noticed an elderly man hobbling
down the street with an old weathered cart filled with what looked like
recycling. Already, at 6 in the morning, the cart was filled with scraps he had
been collecting. His back was haunched over and with each step he took, the
terrible cart reluctantly lurched forward. I ate my breakfast quickly and ran
out the door.

    On my way to the bus, I saw the usual row
of street vendors, selling everything from cell phone cases, socks, headbands,
bags, and hand-carved gifts from buddhist temples. I usually find them to be
annoying, ceaselessly interrupting my morning by pestering me to by the goods
from their small stands. However, today I noticed the “Buddha Woman.” She
stands behind a table filled with beatutiful beads and necklaces and trinkets…all
varying in terms of quality. I stopped this morning to examine some of her
things. She told me the stories and meanings and ideas behind each item I
touched…She had a thick northern accent.

It was cold outside, so
much so that my face was burning. As she was talking, I noticed the chapped
skin on her hands and reddened face. She was wearing a thin cotton jacket with
holes big enough to reveal the tan skin of her arms. Her hair was dirty and
uncombed, her face was worn and old…it almost looked as if a lifeltime of
hardship sat atop her thick, untamed brow. Her appearance was similar to many
of the other vendors on the busy walkway.  

I hopped on te bus…Gucci,
Michael Kors, Burberry, Apple, Peking University…for the most part everyone was
well-groomed and dressed neatly.

I looked out the window at
the main road…Mercedes, Audi, BMW…

I looked out at the small
bike lanes…vendors, broken bikes, musicians….

      I arrived at the walkway leading from the
bus stop to the gates of Peking University. The starving man, the apparition-
he was back today, lying motionlessly beneath the soiled blanket, behind his
empty tin.

Instead of walking on as I
usually do. I paused a moment. Hands shaking, I took out the pack of yogurt I
had in my backpack, as well as a few leftover snacks that my host mom sent me
to class with.

I walked. My heart was
racing. I don’t think I was breathing. Stopping just three feet from the man, I
turned to him.

“Will you have something to
eat?” I placed the food and yogurt at my feet and then backed away slowly.

Nothing. He still laid there like a dead man.

As I headed up the path I
took one last look back at him. A ghostly hand extended from beneath the
blanket, the nails were long and the skin was covered in dirt. It shakily
grabbed at the food and swept it quickly beneath the blanket.

Then I heard a noise, very
faint…maybe I didn’t really hear it. I looked back a second time. The man was
on his bony knees with his hands clasped together and pointed at the sky. His
old, leathery face was streaked with tears.

“Thank you! Thank you God!”
His voice cracked as tears rained down his face.

03/19/2013

First month in China

We've been studying abroad for about a month now and have been blogging on our own site (http://baozisandjiaozis.wordpress.com/). Here are some of the highlights so far!

mahjongtea

For Hannah’s culture and language practicum, they visited a traditional tea house and played mahjong.

798

In CIEE, we are assigned to work in a group of 3 for a culture and language practicum course. The course focuses on getting students off campus so we can use our language skills outside of the classroom.

For Brianne’s group, they traveled to the 798 Art Zone (798艺术区) in Beijing. This thriving art district exists on a former factory site that was vacated in the 1950′s. The district got its name from the location — the original area of the 798 plant — where the early art organizations and artists moved in initially. Today, the area holds important international art exhibitions and art activities.

autism

Our CIEE program director, Patrick Lucas, took us to an autism institute in Tongzhou County, which is to the southeast of Beijing. This facility is truly one-of-a-kind, in that it serves children with various disabilities; in China, any disability is seen as a social stigma. At the school, we interacted with the younger children (ages 8 to 15) and also met the principal.

papercutting

After face painting, we tried traditional paper cutting. Ours did not turn out nearly as good as our teacher’s did.

On Friday, we tried our hands at traditional Peking Opera face painting! It was surprisingly easier than we expected – getting the paint off, not so much.facepainting

After everyone finished, we took a few groups shots. Here are some of our favorites!

facepainting1

IMG_5382

CIEE hosted themed dinners for us, so we went to one titled “Journey to the West,” where we ate traditional Muslim food. Shown above is one of the organs we ate before knowing exactly what it was – this one is a chicken’s heart! We also ate some kidney, and we agreed that the kidney tasted better than the heart.

drumbelltower

After climbing what seemed like a thousand stairs, we finally reached the top of the bell tower and caught a traditional drum performance.

houhai

At Houhai, we got a tour of a neighborhood by rickshaws and talked with a local family. There were many great food stands – Brianne tried the local cotton candy.

acrobat

On Thursday, we went to see a Chinese acrobatic show. At one point, there were eight motorcyclists in a metal sphere. We were amazed at all we saw!

lantern festival

We were so excited to see the lantern/spring festival, until we got there and realized it got canceled because of the air pollution. Nevertheless, it was still fun walking around Qianmen.

collagereal

Here we are at the Summer Palace, which served as a summer get-away for Empress Dowager.

Tiananmen Sqaure

On our first day in China, we took a group trip to Tiananmen Square. We also saw late Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum.

 

03/18/2013

CIEE Beijing Visits the Beijing School for the Blind

As you may have seen in a previous post where we visited an Autism Institute, on Friday March 15, CIEE students from both the Intensive Chinese Language and Environmental, Cultural, and Economic Sustainability (ECES) programs visited the Beijing School for the Blind.

Accompanied by the CIEE Beijing Center Director, as well as staff for both programs, there were two purposes of this trip was to be introduced for the Beijing School for the Blind, get an understanding of their facilities, their mission and their methods.

First, was students for the ECES program taking the Ethnographic Methods course are required to do a three-week field study at the blind school. Second, we invited all CIEE students interested in volunteering at least three hours per week at the Blind School to submit resumes. In all, four students were eager to volunteer for the semester. Thus, this was the day where they hammered out schedules for the rest of the semester, where they would teach oral english to the students.

When we arrived at the facility, it was markedly different than the Autism Institute we saw the week before. An enclosed, pristine campus with new buildings were justaposed by a six story high bell tower which soared above the other buildings and was a marked contrast from the non-descript block-style apartment buildings built in the 1908s.

The principal and staff for the school greeted us and we immediately began the tour of the facilities. The school, which has nearly 250 students from kindergarten to adult, was spacious, well-lit and impeccably clean. The principal showed us the art rooms, the home skills classroom, resource center which included braille enabled computers, as well as the evaluation rooms. All were very impressive.

What really stood out to me was after the English class, four students had agreed to stay behind and talk to us. I was paired with two ECES students, Crystal and Mai. We were lucky enough to talk to a young whose English name was Nancy. Nancy, who was 19 and from Northeastern China had been at the school for 20 days at that point, having just begun her two year program in massage therapy. She told us she enjoyed spending time with friends, singing karaoke, listening to music, exercising, and studying - hobbies like those of any 19 year old Chinese (or American) person.

So why did this really stick out to me? Well, it was how she came to choose her profession of being a massage therapist. As she told us, for blind people in China only two career choices, that is they can become a musician or a massage therapist. Nothing else, no questions asked.

Now before as I come off as some empathetic, espousing noblesse oblige-esque platitudes down upon those less fortunate than me, this systemic rigidity really did strike me. Coming from a background and a country where a disabilities are not limiting, this was a wake-up call for me. In Nancy's case, and as in the case of millions of blind people (and disabled people) across China, it is and always will be the feature that defines her. It just, for some reason, got to me.

I asked her what she thought about being at the school, and her response was overwhelmingly positive. She said that being blind already makes it difficult to get an education and to be independent, thus she was thrilled at the prospect of how this program will allow her to be self sufficient for the most part. As for the school, she commented on how impressive the resources were, after alluding how poor her schools were growing up.

Being one of the most well-funded schools for blind people in China, it was really encouraging to see such a bright place for one of China's most underserved populations, and hopefully the beginning of larger change in China.

We will keep you posted and hopefully get some updates from the volunteer students as the semester carries on. In the meantime, see the picture below:

DSC08843

Above (from left to right), Mai, Crystal, and I chat with Nancy (right).

03/17/2013

Bus "Bosses" and Uncontrollable Losses

***********************************************************



“Lots

of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who

will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”



-Oprah

Winfrey



***********************************************************



  People go places. We go to stores. We go to

work. We go to restaurants, school, theaters, offices, the homes of friends and

family…the depths of our minds. We go EVERYWHERE. Every single day as we are

walking, swimming, flying, rolling, running, dreaming, skiing...no matter how

we move ourselves to get from one place to the next, we are most likely

focusing on our destination.



  The kids on that school bus are scribbling

answers on yesterday’s homework sheet to avoid being scolded during first

period.



The

recent college graduate driving two cars ahead is practicing answers for an

interview at his dream job.



The

fed-up-looking woman on the scooter in the station wagon is practicing exactly

how she’s going to say “I quit,” when she gets to work and confronts her

horrible boss.



The

jolly guy walking up the sidewalk is deciding between pasta or steak as he

heads to his favorite lunch spot.



Me?

Under normal circumstances, I’d probably be running through a vocab list or

planning my next workout as I head to classes here at Peking University.



However,

as I watch school children, office workers, suitcases, and the elderly fly from

one end of the crowded bus to other, bowling over other bystanders in the

process, unleashing a wave of groans, curses, and gasps, there is no way

to focus on anything other than the incredible “bus culture” here in the

Beijing public transit system.



Standing

at the bus stop, you can meet a lot of interesting people. The old grandma

headed to a performance at her grandson’s school, the recent hire at a computer

engineering firm, a bubbly middle schooler eager to ask questions about fashion

and music in America…yes, you’ll find a variety of really interesting people,

looking to make small talk or simply offer a friendly nod in your direction.



However,

when a bus pulls up and a door opens, there’s no telling what the “people” you

were just standing next to will become. Some of them foam at the mouth and leap

and climb and crawl over the masses that are being cattle herded up the bus

steps. Some people simply wait patiently, moving with the waves of people

pushing on and off the bus. Others become potty-mouthed sailors cursing

everyone as they push and cram and shove to get on the bus. What do I become?

As I mount the stairs and squeeze past the thousands of people hovering by the

door, I usually try to avoid contact with other people. I don’t push, and I don’t

say much. However, if there is anyone (and there are) who would dare push me or

yell from behind I need only to turn and glance. In return I get the “Oh….I

didn’t realize you were a foreigner” look from the person behind me, and then I

continue on my way.



I

always relish the rare moments when there are actually empty seats on the bus,

but it is a rare occasion indeed. Or, if there happens to be one empty seat an

elderly person shuffles onto the bus. You don’t mess with old people. So, you

give up the seat. Sigh….



But

in most cases, the only option is to stand and grip onto either a seat or a

railing or grip of some sort.



You

may or may not be aware of the fact that traffic in China is pretty hectic. I’m

sure that’s not surprising when you consider the bajillions of people driving

every day. People lazily slide from one lane to the next whether there is a car

there or not, and if a bus or cab is barreling through an intersection, most

people find it best to cross when they feel they can optimize their “close call”

status. This means that there is a lot of racing and pumping of the breaks.



I’m

sure you can imagine what this means for those of us with only a hand grip on a

public bus during rush hour. People white-knuckle those little grips trying not

to be thrown into the person next to them…or to the other side of the bus. It’s

funny though, some people are total “bosses.” They stand with their back

against a rail with their arms folded, and if the bus driver hits the breaks

they stand unmoved and totally unaffected while others, people who hold on for

all that they are worth, go flying and sliding an rolling all around the bus,

their bags and suitcases and children winding up opposite ends of the vehicle.



Also,

People here, don’t talk much on the buses. They usually look through their cell

phone, look out the window, stare at other people on the bus, or sleep. So, if

and when a stranger ends up in your lap or bowls you over it’s perfectly

acceptable to ignore it completely, send an acknowledging glance, or politely

say it’s fine or whatever…



Now,

what did I do when a chubby school boy with puffy cheeks and a big backpack

fell into my lap? The kid looked terrified for a moment as he immediately jumped

up.



I

looked at him and said, “Aren’t you a little old to be sitting in laps?”



He

stared for a moment, and then in an instant his face glowed red and his eyes

disappeared behind his cheeks as he erupted into a laughter that spread

throughout the entire group of people standing next to us. After that, I was hit

by a wave of compliments about my Chinese and questions about America and “America’s

favorite things” like coffee, French fries, cheese burgers, and Harvard...



 



 

03/12/2013

Mental Disabilities in China: A Visit to a Beijing Autism Institute

The morning began for everyone at 7:30.

Students from CIEE's semesterlong programs in Beijing were invited to participate in a CIEE-arranged visit to the Hongyuan Qizhi Children's Autism Recovery Center (link in Chinese) in the eastern county of Tongzhou.

In all, 30 students and 7 CIEE staff members attended the trip. After losing an hour of travel time to a wrong turn and hacing to exit the bus to clear a securitycheckpoint due to the convening 12th People's Congress in central Beijing, we made it to the school.

As educators, we strive to arrange activities for students that can help them engage China in a real and meaningful way

The purpose of this trip was to show students an aspect of China that is not readily accessible for them. Participants were able to give a bit of encouragement to the teachers and families, and to enrich the lives of the youth just a little bit, and as it happens most times during service activities like this one, our students get something out of it too.

 When we arrived, things were already a bit chaotic. The top floor which houses the students indoor play areas, was bustling with approximately 40 students ages 2 - 15 running about with teachers in tow.  Almost immediately, we encountered unexpected social behaviors (to us, at least)  someone wanting a hug, or insisting on looking in your bag or camera 

After a brief lunch with the students, we engaged in another play session that lasted for a little less than an hour.

The principal of the school, Mr. Li then came to talk to us about his troubles running the school. As a privately run institute, it faces many challenges, and even staying open is a struggle given funding limitations and social prejudice. Even though this institute was set up primarily for autistic children, yet due to wide lack of support for children with virtually any developmental disability in China, youth with all sorts of backgrounds are in fact at this facility.

For me personally, it pushed me out of my comfort zone (in a good way). I was a little unsure on how I should engage the kids. Given the wide variety of disabilities at the school (as mentioned above), there are two extremes. Some may giggle and throw a ball at you when you are not looking and then run away like any normal 8 year old, while another kid has never said a word in her life and is content sitting on a bench by herself.

What I saw required one to be non-threatening, taking a step back initially, and follow their lead while also being assertive in conveying to them your desire to engage.

It is not that they are unable to interact or engage with us and others, it is in fact we who have not figured out how to engage them yet.

While everyone got something different out of it, it was definitely a special day for everyone.

***Tune in the next couple of days for pictures from the day at the Autism Institute!

Adaptation


    One thing I had to learn pretty quickly in China is Adaptation. Things are different here than they’re back home, obviously, and we must acknowledge that.

    For example, the weather/ air in China. Back in the States I never gave the air a second thought; I could walk to my class or run to the store or just sit by the pond and take in the sights. However, in my short time in China I have become hyper aware of the air around me and I’ve found myself asking questions I never did before. “Is the air really polluted today? Should I wear a Mask today? Is that a cloud, a fog, or pollution?”

    Another thing I never experienced before China is really high speed winds. Giant gusts of wind would come through the city. If you weren’t careful, they could easily knock you off your feet. These winds are really dangerous in a big city like Beijing. There are a lot of things that can be torn off building, or things that can fly off cars, or even laundry lines.

     This weekend is a prime example for  all of these cases. Friday the air pollution levels were in the 450’s! To illustrate the severity of the situation, some factories in America are forced to shut down by law if pollution levels reach 100 to 150. We’ve tripled or quadrupled that safety standard. It wasn’t safe for our health to be outside, and friends had to cancel plans to visit the Forbidden City.

    Saturday, started off well, but as we entered late morning conditions worsened. The winds really picked up and we had gale force winds wreak havoc on the metropolitan. As I stared out my window I could see a women be pushed unto the fence from a gust, it was like she had the ball and the wind was a linebacker. I saw tarps flapping feverishly trying to get airborne like the birds who were nowhere to be found. I saw the phone booths and street signs/lights rattle like they were attached to a snake.

    Needless to say, I had to cancel my plans to visit the Forbidden City that day as well. I ended up doing my Sunday ritual instead. I ended up finishing all of my homework. When I looked outside I noticed a giant brown cloud looming over the city ahead of me. My friend tells me it’s horrible. I turn to him and ask why? What’s in that cloud? Sandstorm; I haven’t personally experienced a Sandstorm yet, but I have seen it’s after math.

    While in a new environment, we need to learn to adapt to this weather. Plans will have to change, and you never know until the sun rises. I ended up going to the Forbidden City on Sunday. It was a lovely after noon, and even better since I didn’t have to worry about homework.

03/11/2013

America the Great Villain? Mwahaha

大家好!

Hi everyone!

Hope you're all doing well.  Just wanted to give an update on what's going on lately...

So 1-Check out the pic below. This is my friend Loomis.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 11.45.53 AM

Loomis is a Chinese undergraduate senior of Peking University, my language partner, and friend.

Loomis

^I made this picture for him. Hahaha.

Anyhow, I just wanted to stress the importance of making Chinese friends when you're in China.

About a week ago, Ben and I (both CIEE students) went to visit Erik (another CIEE student) in his homestay.

Erik is living in a homestay a few stops away from campus with an older brother and a grandma, who he calls, Da Ma 大妈. 

Now, visiting was interesting.  After I tried my best to make some western-style food (as well as I could anyway with the ingredients I was able to find ><), we talked with Da Ma and the elder brother for a bit.

It was actually kind of upsetting, informative, but upsetting-why?->why, let me tell you...

The conversation started out fine, but I think Da Ma was in the mood to vent a little about America.  She began by telling us that once upon a time, she visited California and saw the great Redwoods.  She emphasized how big our trees were, and how green it was.  Then, however, she proceeded to blame America for all of China's deforestation, environmental destruction, and pollution.  In short, Da Ma said Americans were wasteful, using up lots of paper made from trees all from China.  She was saying why use China's when America has their own.  She thought America was quite clever in this way, and she thought it was unfair to China.

Apparently America is to blame for everything wrong with China's environment.

I was a little bit upset and disheartened at her view point, but didn't argue with her too much-I didn't want to and she's an old person and their views are rather hard to change anyway...  It was more upsetting though, because in times like these, I sometimes wonder why I'm studying Chinese if people in China have this perception of Americans, even foreigners?  Why even bother to try to know them, their language, and culture?

So I talked to Loomis about it.

He told me that yes, a lot of people, especially old, have this perception of China, stemming from the Cultural Revolution, when Mao villanized America, creating the image that America is the competitive enemy to overtake, to surpass.

He said even he thought this way growing up until attending school and becoming older.

Loomis thinks that as China's interactions with the world increases, and education spreads through China, this will change.  The younger generations, and those especially in the developed cities of China largely do not hold this view.  It especially changes when they meet foreigners individually and have the chance to see more than just that the government broadcasts.

There is both good and bad in China, as is there anywhere else in the world.

I know this, and it's just nice to have a Chinese friend to remind you of the good when you feel disheartened in a place sometimes where you feel unwanted or seemingly don't belong.

Just a short post- have to study- but more soon!

TTFN,

Chelsea Toczauer

03/10/2013

"Auntie, let's jump, let's fly!"



Yesterday some CIEE students from Beida and Minzu had the opportunity to go volunteer at an Autism Institute. It was absolutely amazing. This school and its principal are fantastic; the continual struggle to keep the school running with forces such as the local government and the stigmatization of children with disabilities by Chinese society, left me in awe. Without a doubt, my favorite moment was when I was jumping on a trampoline of sorts, and one of the boys grabbed my hand, and he said, "阿姨,我们挑吧,我们飞吧!” or, "Auntie, Let's jump, let's fly!" On a daily basis I sometimes feel that my Chinese abilities are just enough to get by, but the pure understanding of fun and friendship crossed the language barrier. It was an overwhelmingly welcoming sign of friendship to share this experience with another human being.