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Archive for May, 2007

Comfort Women Comforting Themselves…

I was blogroll diving and stumbeled across an entry on Chinese Chic  a wonderfful blog from Down Under written by a talented and insightful Chinese-Malaysian  law student.

I wept in awe and admiration for the courageous healing ritual described in Ms Peng’s post:

Taiwanese women forced into prostitution by Japan’s military more than six decades ago put on wedding gowns Tuesday to celebrate the nuptials they never had.
The women are part of a shrinking group of “comfort women” — forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s military — in several parts of Asia during World War II.
After Japan ended its 50-year occupation of Taiwan in 1945, many of the women were rejected as “damaged goods” by their relatives and never found a spouse, said the Women’s Rescue Foundation, the rights group which organized Tuesday’s event.
Six women — ranging in age from 82 to 90 — came together in Taipei to put on white wedding dresses, hold bouquets and have their pictures taken.
“People of our age didn’t dare dream of having a wedding, but now the day has come, and I like it a lot,” said Wu Hsiu-mei, the oldest member of the group.
Taiwan has 28 of the women left, with an average age of 84….”

Chinese brides

Asian Humor,Human Rights,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Japan,Photos,Top Blogs,War,中国,中文

3 responses so far

Not with a Whimper….

china food

One of the worst phone calls I ever received was from a friend of 30 years who weeks earlier had phoned to ask my advice. The first call was to get my recommendation for a natural sleeping aid. She and her husband were facing big job changes and she wanted a non-narcotic alternative to counting sheep. At the time I was successfully using amino acids like tryptophan to help naturally restore chemical balance and chemically altered serenity to alcoholics and addicts. The best sleep aid available was tryptophan, the chemical precursor to serotonin and the substance that you find in turkey and milk. It is the reason, other than you have seen it 9999 times, that you never make it through that re-run of It’s a Wonderful Life after Christmas dinner without snoring. Back to the phone call….

She told me she had been in a wheelchair for weeks and had lost all strength in her muscles. She went on to tell me that she was the one of the lucky ones as several people had died and the Center for Disease Control had indeed identified a bad batch of Japanese tryptophan as the culprit. It did not ease my guilt for recommending the supplement when she told me that I was not going to be mentioned in the lawsuit being brought to the Japanese company responsible by pre-Simpson trial heavyweight Attorney F.Lee Bailey.

My friend recovered and the suit was settled quietly by a Japanese company flush with cash. Tryptophan was removed from Vitamin store shelves and I stopped suporting amino treatments despite believing the tryptophan incident was an isolated. They never found the real cause of the devastation and I never heard of a single individual being punished for a part in the debacle.

The Chinese have rightly been under the microscope lately for some terrifying incidents of pure greed. Drug manufacturers and food producers have been found to be cutting costs (while we want to up the value of the Yuan so now shrinking profit margins get even smaller) by using dangerous, cheap chemicals in place of the real thing. Hundred have died or become sick worldwide from a host of products: Antifreeze laced toothpaste, bad cat food, killer cough syrup, and bacteria laden eye drops are among the most recent problem products.

China, like most Asian countries, detests publicity and the resulting loss of face. And to show their resolve about cleaning up the problem they handed Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of China’s Food & Drug Administration, the death sentence yesterday. Swift Action 1, Human Rights 0.

It seems Zheng took $800,000 USD in bribes to look the other way as fake drugs, placebos and worse were exported worldwide. There is evidence that his actions were lethal: In one instance, an antibiotic approved by his agency killed at least ten patients last year before it was recalled.

drug czar

Zheng Xiaoyu in living color

According to the New York Times, via China Digital Times, “The problems are more serious in China because tens of thousands of people are sickened or killed every year because of rampant counterfeiting and phony food and drugs. For instance, last year 11 people died in China after being treated with an injection tainted by a fake chemical. And 6 people died and 80 others fell ill after taking an antibiotic that was produced with a ‘substandard disinfectant.’”

About once a month some task force in Hong Kong is seizing millions of Yuan worth of bogus Viagra (it WAS all in your head) and even cholesterol fighting agents.

“The government also said it would crack down on food products that are being illegally exported, bypassing food inspections.”

Worried that many drugs may be substandard, China is now reviewing over 170,000 production licenses issued by his agency over the past decade. 170,000.

It is going to take a lot of policing to review 170,000 manufacturers. It is time to sell your stock in pharmaceuticals and opt for prison wear and weapons grade lead. This kind of behavior is rampant. I am against the death penalty for a number of reasons, but like Dezza (see comments on this post) I want to see this guy rot in hell, but only after being forced to use his own approved products.

The biggest issue with the death sentence in this case is that it is just a high profile face-saving jesture. Hundreds of vendors in Gongbei, near the border to Macau where thousands of police reside, will launder your money, sell you knock-offs of any watch, drug, DVD, or game that you want. Virtually every booth has i-Pod Nanos for 170 Yuan ($20 bucks) that look (but don’t behave) like real. One post long ago at Sinosplice had what was then a funny entry about “Nalencia” oranges. Several commenters remarked that the oranges were pretty good despite the fake inspection sticker which should read, of course, Valencia. I would think twice now about eating anything from a company that goes to that kind of trouble to give a false impression.

I am not parqnoidby nature, but I still travel to HK about once every two months to make a “drug run” where I pick up western medications and over the counter products I cannot get or safely trust in the mainland. The pharmacists there actually have legal degrees and a knowledge of medicine. I do not scare easily, but I have been afraid of mainland products for a long time. I have an infection from a recent dental procedure that will not abate and worry further that the antibiotics given me are really made of chalk or worse.

Don’t expect any great changes anytime soon just because they offed this opportunistic scumbag. It appears this issue, if it ever ends will do so, not with the whimper of a fleeced Japanese industrialist, but with a bang….

Asia,cartoons,China Business,China Cartoons,China Editorials,Chinese Media,Chinese Medicine,Environment,In the news,Wholesale Products China,中国,中文

5 responses so far

Memorial Day

memorial day

As part of his therapy while trying to recover from a head wound suffered in Vietnam my father used to make the poppies that the American Legion sells on Memorial day.

Here is the poem that was written three years after the famous In Flanders Fields that most of us know….

We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep
in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead
.Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Retrieved from an earlier post:

I had the chance to mountain climb with an aging PRC Army Veteran of Tibet and Tiananmen Square. He had that “thousand yard stare” soldiers who have been amidst senseless death can see in the eyes of another.

Years ago, as a corpsman at the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences, I was almost detailed to collect bodies in the Jonestown Massacre. Many of my friends went and are forever changed. I know medics, who went to Vietnam as conscientious objectors, and came back morphine addicted. It was one way, albeit not a good one, to cope.

Soldiers and Paramedics in New York, Iraq and New Orleans have acknowledged that there was a self before the tragedies and a different human, with a different world-view, that emerged from the devastation.

When most of the school children of a Chinese rural village, dozens, drowned in their classrooms, and left these hand prints on the windows trying to escape, it was the army who first saw the prints and then had to search through the mud for their bodies….

HANDS

When I traveled, during Vietnam, in uniform I was vilified by many as part of the Military Industrial Complex. I did not get too many salutes.

As the war becomes more unpopular in Iraq, as the world increasingly calls us a police state, remember this: Governments declare war. Officials deploy troops. Hurricanes and earthquakes obey no warnings. And it is the soldier, and the victim, who carry with them, forever, the stench of death. It is like a house fire: you can never seem to rid yourself of the smell of smoke.

Love the soldier. They all write poetry and letters of longing home to their loved ones.

Hate the war, hate the floods, hate the notion that we are not close to getting it right, socially or environmentally, just yet.

Pray for the men, like my father, and soldiers of all nations who gave up sleepless nights and often, like my father, their lives, before and after battles, for you and the missions that they were asked to fulfill.

Salute them all with words and deeds today.

With special good wishes to the Wed. Heroes crew/blogroll. Most of you are not accessible from China, so I cannot get to you and often cannot receive mail or link out to you properly. Keep up the good work.

cartoons,Holidays,Homeland Security,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Poetry,Tibet,Veterans,Vietnam,Violence,War,中国,中文

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The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women: And Then There Was One…

league of extraordinary women

The original League lost one more extraordinary woman this week. Ms. 珍 (Zhen) , first from the right, succumbed to breast cancer that spread to her liver for want of appropriate treatment. (There is a still a way to help and it doesn’t cost you anything*)

The unsinkable Ms. Yue is the remaining survivor of her chemotherapy group. None of the women to date have been able to raise the funds needed to acquire the very expensive drug Herceptin needed for a chance of staving off the disease. It is the only available agent that can treat HER2 breast cancer in early and late stage development, butverg wholesale runs $45,000 for a course of therapy–more than ten years worth of an average teacher’s salry in China. This blog has raised only a fraction of the monies needed for these brave ladies.

I was given great life lessons by Ms Zhen, woman who remained ever positive about her chances for recovery. I have no doubt that she survived long past expectations because of her zeal for life, the friendship of the other League members and Chinese traditional medicine combined with what western medicine she could afford.

Ms Zhen, a victim of cancer and an ailing health system in China, leaves behind a loving husband, a boy 14 years old and a girl now 19 year of age.

In memoriam Onemanbandwidth and The Dreamblogue will not post new entries for the next three days.

*Head over to http://blogofdreams.com and favorite the blog in Technorati and also lin to the trip. It takes five minutes and the right people benefit.

Asian Women,Cancer Journal,Charity in China,China Photos,Chinese Medicine,Human Rights,Personal Notes,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,The Unsinkable Ms Yue,中国

2 responses so far

Banana W.H.O.?

banana sars

According to Reuters the newest Chinese food scare is bananas. Literally!

Somehow word got out, via text messages on cell phones, that the bananas on Hainan Island (China’s Hawaii which is to Hawaii as Chinese checkers are to checkers) contained the deadly SARS virus . Hm. All I ever received were, uh, solicitations and illegal taxi service ads: “Is that a banana in your pocket or…?”

The agriculture ministry has been called the cops to investigate. From what I saw of the police stations in Hainan, well they may take a while to get around to interviewing local monkeys/goats about their involvement:

hainan island

The rumor comes at a bad time Chinese products are under fire for poor quality and and dangerous substitutions of cheap material. Reuters says that we are on it though: U.S. health officials now “are checking all shipments of toothpaste coming from China, following reports of tainted products in the Dominican Republic and Panama.” Huh? Homeland security must be involved in this agricultural intelligence operation or Reuters needs a new editor. ( I am chiding the grammar here NOT the seious problems of late)

“The rumor about bananas from the sub-tropical island of Hainan had no scientific support as there had never been a case of humans contracting viruses from plants, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on its Web site (www.agri.gov.cn).” The Agriculture Ministry DEFINITELY needs an editor.

I am not sure what Hainan bananas did to hack people off, but they have been getting a bad rap lately. Earlier this year there were rumors abounding that they caused cancer because they had contracted something called Panama disease. Eerie coincidence, that.

Thanks once again to David Michael Porter who must get the world’s weirdest RSS feeds.

Asia,Asian Humor,China Business,China Editorials,China Humor,China Photos,Environment,Hainan Island,Humor,In the news,Just Plain Strange,Photos,Travel in China,Weird China,中国,中文

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China Photo Contest

fotolia_1684848.jpg

Have picture of the Middle Kingdom you like and want to share with the world?

OMBW will sponsor a contest that will run all year and culminate in a coffee table book that will raise funds for China charities and the Literacy Group The Reading Tub.

It is simple:

Send your best shot of people, places or events in China to: dreamblogue@gmail.com with the information required below. We will post several shots, once a week, on OMBW and on http://blogof dreams.com where you and your friends can vote for your favorites. The top 250 will make it into the book. There is NO entry fee.

There will be prizes, yet to be decided, for the winners, links back to blogs or sites if requested, contributor copies of the coffee table book. All rights are returned to the creator upon publication and you are free to multiple submit your work to other sites, magazines or contests. First prize in each division will be an expense paid week on the road with Yanzhi and Dawei and the Dreanblogue Team during their charity and friendship tour of China

Ideally there will be three divisions:

Hobby Photographer: You take pictures for personal enjoyment and you have a shot that you would like to share with the world

yangshuo

Amateur: You aspire to be professional and have a bit more experience or training than do most of us in the amateur ranks

heart on

Professional: You get paid for your work, but are willing to share it with us at OMBW and the Dreablogue so we can raise a few dollars for charity

great-wall-1.jpg

We will try to post new pictures once a week on Friday. The rules:

Make the photos as Web-friendly as possible: No more than 450 Pixels wide please. If you win we will ask for the high resolution file.

Include the following information with your email:

  • Real name
  • Division
  • Province where picture was taken
  • Name of Photo as you want it in the ALT tag
  • Your location and email (not to be published)
  • Your desired screen name for voting and picture tags
  • A short statement giving us permission to place the picture on OMBW and The China Dreamblogue during 2006-7
  • Your blog or website URL, if there is one, to which we should link the photos

There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit….
Look for the first photos next week!

Charity in China,China Expats,China Photos,China web 2.0,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Expats,Greater Asia Blogs,Heartsongs,Hong Kong Blogs,Intercultural Issues,New Blogs,Photo Contest,Photos,Search Engine Marketing,SEM,SEO,Seo China,Teaching in China,The Great Wall,The Internet,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,Tibet,Top Blogs,Top China Blogs List,Travel in China,Yangshuo China,中国,中文

3 responses so far

A New Olympic Blood Sport in China….

RPS girls

 

 You have your Badminton, your Ping Pong and now, the sport that could bring adulation to the uber-geeks and the athletically challenged propelling someone into the world of endorsements like Yao Ming or Xiang Liu: Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Wikipedia actually has a cheater's guide!!

Now I am not sure how one would train for a RPS tourney, but Matti Leshem, the Co-Kohuna (commissioner) of the Mr. of the US Rock Paper Scissors League, would like to see it become an Olympic sport one day. OK, laugh if you like, but some fast-signing hand athlete won $10,000 clams at the Vegas Championship that was covered by ESPN! Leshem, a Hollywood producer, makes don King look like a hot dog hawker at a ballpark. He acted as emcee for the $50,000 competition with 300 contestants and $50,000 in prizes. This has mad implications for Asian countries who use the game to decide everything from who uses the potty first to what auction company is going to sell your art collection. And move over NASCAR! The sponsor of this fast-paced discipline, where carpal tunnel and joint pain are are analogous to hairpin turn crashes, is Anheuser-Busch. With the best two out of three wins deciding the single elimination winners there is plenty of time for refreshments! And wait until the Japanese get in on this. Americans are already dressing up in costumes (one guy wears red cooking mitts 'cause his hands are just too hot) and I cannot wait for the masters of kitch and mindless game shows to get in on this one. This may be the fund raiser we need for the Blog of Dreams trip across China. Anyone want to code a RPS game?? With a hat tip to Everthing But Hockey

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON THE SOLDIER WHO NEEDED ASSISTANCE. HERE IS AN EMAIL RECEIVED FROM LONE STAR PUNDIT TODAY:

Lonnie,

Yes, a PayPal account did get set up for the Cooper family.  You can find a PayPal donation button at the bottom of this page:  http://ccooperff.blogspot.com/

Also, CavMom (who helped Mrs. Cooper set up the PayPal account) added this update on Tuesday:

Update – As of 05/15/07: The funeral fund is now up to $3,876.00. Thank you to all who have helped the Cooper family.

 

Asian Humor,Charity in China,China Cartoons,China Humor,China Olympics,China Sports,Entertainment,Humor,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Japan,中国

3 responses so far

The Hong Kong Monkey Trials….

Devolution The original Scopes "Monkey Trial" was a test of a 1925 bill passed in Arkansas that forbade any doctrine from being taught that opposed divine creation as expressed in the Christian Bible. Scopes, a teacher, was accused of teaching evolution. At that time, and even today, many people like the just-departed Jerry Falwell, viewed the Bible as the literal word of God and inerrant in its view of the world. Others still follow closely with the belief that it is a "God-Breathed" and man written document that is the essence of what God intended us to know about creation. . The issues raised by the Scopes trial remain, to this day, hotly contested in communities and American courtrooms and it is not religion they are arguing. Lately, Hong Kong has seen a bit of the circus atmosphere that was part of the Scopes courtroom drama between famed atheist lawyer Clarence Darrow and Presidential candidate, and fiercely Christian, William Jennings Bryan. The players, although not as flamboyant, are acting with a fervor and commitment about Freedom of Speech issues and drawing a crowd on both sides of the debate. An "Obscene Articles Tribunal" recently ruled that a student newspaper at Chinese university (academically one of the highest rated in the World and once a bastion of free speech) broke the law by distributing a sex survey. The Tribunal has yet to issue a penalty, but I am guessing, regardless of its weight (there is possible prison time involved), that the punishment will have as profound a public impact as did the $100 fine given to Scopes who was found also guilty of teaching evolution. The chief editor Tsang Chiu-wai said that regardless of the ruling of the Tribunal the will continue to publish the paper. This morning things got a bit more interesting. The South China Morning Post had an article on the front page that asked in its lead-in: "Is the Bible decent?" An anonymous website (http://truthbible.net) has launched a campaign to have the Christian Bible censored. The website is reported to object to references to "rape, cannibalism and violence in both the Old and New Testament." So far the number of complaints to the Television and Licensing Authority concerning the Bible to has almost tripled those that were aimed at the Chinese University publication. If the complaints are proved valid ,full texts of the Bible could only be read by adults and would have to be sold sealed and tagged with a warning label. The website has its own warning on its header that reads: "This website contains biblical material,which may be offensive and may not be distributed, circulated, sold hired, given, given, lent, shown, played or projected to a person under the age of 18 years":
bible warning Still a few decades away from surrendering autonomy to the mainland, Hong Kong is still struggling with how to please Beijing, maintain some semblance of self-rule and yet answer to constituents and leaders on both sides of Freedom of Speech issues. On the same front page issue of today's SCMP the chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Ma Lik, said Hong Kong had an "unpatriotic view" of one issue in particular, "The government should teach what actually happened on June 4th…." and he went on to add that "Freedom of speech is not absolute; it should be based on facts. when facts are not clear, people can only have wild talk." Mr. Ma has been an advocate of universal sufferage (the right of anyone to vote) in Hong Kong, but qualifies that by saying only after the Hong Kong government educates teachers about what "really" happened in history. It is Arkansas all over again. I am glad that in the west we have preserved the right to "wild talk" from the days of Moses right up to the Jerry Falwell and historical revisionist Ma. It is time for America to watch, as did Europe during the Scopes trial, to see who or what prevails. One hopes a win is not brought on by the "alchemy of ignorance" whereby hot air is transmuted into gold, but by a concern for civil liberties, in the Hong Kong Monkey Trials.

 

An update on the stats here: BIBLE 

Censorship,China Editorials,Chinese Media,Hong Kong,In the news,Intercultural Issues,中国

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After the applause….

TEACH IN CHINA

I finished a class this week and there was applause. The general reticence of Chinese learners to be demonstrative in the classroom had me thinking their joy was merely over the fact that the period had finally end. Caught off guard, with tears in my eyes, I lowered my head and tried to understand what had brought on such a response.

The class had been a simple one: an exercise that had them speaking about themselves, the origins of their families and the meanings inherent in the elegant pictographs that are the Chinese characters that represent their names. They chalked each one on the board and told the room stories of history, hope and love that had gone into the choices made for them and by whom the names had been given and why.

Let me digress back a week and tell you of an encounter I had with one of the Chinese nationals teaching at our school: She wandered into a conversation I was having with two other Chinese professors and introduced herself with an English name I knew could not be hers by heritage. I then asked, as I always do, her “real” name in Chinese. She replied that it was much too difficult for a foreigner. I asked again and she answered with a simple name, nearly as common in China as is Smith or Jones in America. I was not sure if I should be angry, saddened or pedagogical or silent at that moment. I simply drew the character for her name in the air and then asked if I was correct. She confirmed my choice and left the conversation after quickly instructing, thereby saving face, that Chinese names were richer in meaning and more carefully chosen than were western ones. My three daughters Alizon (named for the beautiful lover in the verse play The Lady’s not for Burning), Adrienne (named for famed feminist poet Adrienne Rich) and Chieko (My “Thousand Blessings Child” nearly lost to a prenatal condition) might disagree, but I nodded acceptance and went back to small talk with my colleagues.

It was later that day that I conceived the teaching lesson I mention above. And I cconceded that it was often true that Chinese families incorporated, on the whole, more thought and care when choosing a name: superstition, family placement, tradition about who in the family normally names a new child, hopes associated with the birth of the child (sometimes even questionable ones like giving the girl a boy’s name because they had hoped for a male child), Feng Shui master recommendations and dozens of other factors that never enter into our decisions in America. I thought that she had made actually made a great case for students (and herself) not using English names. I wanted students to know that some of us are really hungry to know more about Chinese culture and willing to endure being uncomfortable with the difficulties of language acquisition. And I wanted to re-instill a sense of identity and connection with their own culture that I dreaded they could lose if they abandoned their uniqueness because of a fear of not fitting in or being wholly understood for foreigners.

Many foreign teachers, for convenience, give or accept English names from the foreign charges in their classes. They allow students to abandon the most beautiful written language on earth and deny their heritage by replacing their names with handles like “Flash,” Zinger,” Caca,” and “Bush” and “Bin Laden” (who incidentally are really friends)….Some students have perfectly reasonable names and, for whatever reason, ask to be called by the same. In those cases I obey their requests.

Some teachers make the case that they give English names as part of practice in cultural education. I remember doing the same thing in German class in Germany. The difference was/is the English names here usually generally stick with the students for decades, even life. Coversely, I can remember many a foreign teacher in Japan expressing feelings of anger about having their name transliterated by a Japanese into an inadequate and odd sounding phonetic alphabet. Many teachers thought the practice was racist and that the Japanese should learn to correctly pronounce their names.. But, I have rarely heard an ESL teacher take the opposing stance when it comes to student titles.

How can we ever translate the stories of five thousand years written on their faces, hear their fragile voices chime with the long-traveled love of ancestors, or walk down the aisles of the dialectic between us without even knowing their real names?

I had dinner the following day with a British teacher who told me that a wise lecturer of his had once added this question to a final exam: “What is the name of the person who cleans this room for you every day?” Some thought it a joke while others saw it as a call to find learning in the commonplace–that upon examination becomes extraordinary. I don’t know how that teacher graded this lesson, but I know the best answer I could have received would have been: “I don’t know, but I will find out.”

Some of greatest lessons in life and my deepest understanding of any culture has come from taxi drivers, and hospital orderlies–real stories for another post. These kinds of awakenings have been more commonplace than revelations gained through dialogue with supervisors or professional pedants. And too they have come from students, like mine this week, with the onomatopoeia of temple bells, the warmth of summer sun or the synestheia-like fragrance of jade in their names. Why wouldn’t I want to hear the wishes wished for them instead of some silly nickname foisted on them or adopted by themselves because of some misunderstanding of a western movie or TV show?

One of my friends in American, his last name is Lason, has kept meticulous records of his family tree. He comes from Russian Jewish roots. His original family name was Lashinsky. The customs officials at Ellis Island altered it for eternity because it sounded “too Jewish.” While some families changed their names voluntarily, many ethnic minority group members at Ellis had their names altered to accommodate the ethnocentrism of a few in power. If someone opts to choose an alternate pronunciation for whatever reason I can understand it, but I don’t ever want to be the cause.

My class showed its gratitude for being able to share a verbal communion, a common meal of understanding and appreciation with a curious stranger to their past. And after the applause I reflected on my job which I believe is to nurture what is already there: a shy and folded leaf of promise obediently growing toward the light available to them. I feel it is my duty as a visitor in this country to learn as much as I can about the people and places I inhabit. And it is always my mandate as a teacher to instill pride and a sense of identity in students; especially those who feel inferior because they have been affected by the stereotypes of a western media that often ridicules Asian names and customs.

So, after the applause I moved on to the next class hoping to a grateful janitor, taxi driver, and attentive educational orderly and hoping to keep learning from the teachers on the other side of the aisle. There is no requirement to remember my name.

Asia,cartoons,China Editorials,Heartsongs,Intercultural Issues,Macau University of Science and Technology,Personal Notes,Teaching in China,中国,中文

18 responses so far

Mothers Day in China and pretty much everywhere else…

It is universal:

mothers day

Happy Mothers Day from China…..

Asia,Asian Humor,cartoons,中国

8 responses so far

Soldier to Soldier….

thank a vet

A break from China news today brought on by an email from Lone Star Pundit.

Yes, I personally have opposed the war in Iraq since its inception, but as a disabled veteran and the son of a fallen hero I do my best to support the men and women placed in harm’s way.

Hate the battle, but don’t dismiss the soldier or his/her emotional, physical or financial needs. If we can spend $456 Billion on a questionable war and devote millions of blog pages to pro-war rhetoric, we ought to be able to do a bit better than this:

Reprinted from: Lone Star Pundit:

For six years now we have seen the bumper stickers and heard the sound bites from both sides of the aisle: “We support the troops!” (Whether or not they support their mission normally depends on which side of the aisle the individual leans toward.)

Well, now it’s time to put up or shut up. One soldier from Magnolia, Texas — just 20 minutes up the road from here — needs our support, both with prayers and if possible with a little financial relief:

A Magnolia man serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq recently had to take out a loan which is debited from his check to help pay for his father’s funeral expenses.

According to his mother, Laura Cooper, her son barely made it before her husband died, but is now having to sacrifice even more.

chris cooper veteran

Christopher Cooper Jr., 23, came home to attend his father’s funeral but only had five days to grieve with his mother and younger brother before having to head back to Iraq to take part in the Untied States’ military campaign in the Middle East. His brother, Justin Cooper, 20, is attending Texas State College.

Chris Cooper Sr., 47, died April 9, only months after finding out he had lung cancer in November. His widow, Laura Cooper, works part-time for A+ Autos in Pinehurst and was already struggling to work and take care of her disabled mother who went blind due to diabetes.

Laura Cooper has worked for the auto shop for eight years. When her husband developed cancer, her struggle to care for her ailing family and work got harder and it left her with little funds.

With one son in college and the other in Iraq, there was no one for her to turn to. She said her son is already sacrificing so much for his country, but he offered to sacrifice even more by taking out a loan against his military pay to help cover his father’s funeral expenses.

This young man is doubly a hero, sacrificing both to serve and protect his country and at the same time to care for his family back home.

The family’s church, led by pastor Gerald Sadler, has already done what it could to raise money to help the Cooper family, but this is a small church within a small community. According to the pastor,

… funeral expenses alone amount to $7,200. So far, $1,200 has come in from various donations. Sadler said that unless the community can help, the rest will be being taken out of Christopher Cooper’s son’s military pay for the next two years.

An account has also been set up at Woodforest National Bank under the name “Funeral Fund for Chris Cooper.”

If you are able and would like to help the Cooper family with the funeral expenses and lingering medical bills, you can either email Lonestar pundit or call Pastor Sadler at his place of business (A+ Autos) at 001-281-356-5100.

Help if you can.

I have asked LSP to post a PayPal address and if he does so I will pass it on to you…..

War

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Addicted to Mediocrity: Education in China II

Several years ago, there was an American dentist who was well known in alcohol recovery circles. He was frequently invited to speak about his circuitous and hard won arrival at sobriety because he was easily one of the most entertaining speakers ever heard on any subject. One story in particular remains with me: Having been told of the death of a colleague, and to preclude public contact while “paying his respects”, he visited the grave site where his friend would be laid to rest. As he leaned over the six-foot deep hole to bid a heartfelt, albeit inebriated goodbye, he fell into the hole. Unable to extricate himself he simply laid down for a brief nap.

When mourners arrived and gathered for the lowering of the casket there was a collective gasp of horror when a figure attempted to rise up from the grave. The dentist mused, “A normal man would have been embarrassed.” But, habit had been a great deadener and he was beyond shame. It would be many years later that he actually reached a “bottom,” deeper than the aforementioned six foot resting place, that acted as a catalyst for recovery. More on this in a bit….

Two weeks ago, amidst finals, I had to quickly return to my office to retrieve a forgotten document; en-route, I passed the classroom of one of the younger Chinese teachers. The brilliant and beautiful Ph.D graduate of one of the top schools in the world was asleep at her desk while her students chattered, used cell phones, applied make-up, read books, dozed, and smoked cigarettes. It looked more like a scene out of Chalkboard Jungle, Stand and Deliver or Freedom Writers, but without hope for a happy ending. In retropsect, the most astonishing part of the experiece was my lack of surprise and concomitant emotional indifference. I guess I have seen this too many times in too many Chinese and expat led classroom–while the teacher was awake.

Students in China, unlike students in Japan, are no longer adherents of Confucian principles. Since the days of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, where teachers were shamed, beaten, jailed and even killed (1966-1976), reverence for teachers is, at best, an arguable ideal. The average Chinese college student in many schools (there are exceptions), who thinks himself respectful, would still manage to incur the wrath of most American Professors because they have not had modeled for them the manners and etiquette expected of a western scholar.

Last week the Chinese media and the Internet were alive with rumors of this incident captured on film:

Stories abounded about the perpetrators, whose names and school were quickly made public on bulletin boards nationwide, and they had to be secreted away because a bounty had been placed on them. Allegedly 100,000 RMB (about 120,000 USD or 5 years of a school teacher’s gross salary) had been offered to the person or group that would literally beat them into respectfulness. The students, who finally apologized to the teacher, reportedly are back at school and neither the school or the teacher will further comment.

What is most disturbing to me, other than the physical attack and threat of harm to the teacher, is that the scene is all too typical of what many pedants are asked to endure in China. The industrialization of education has led the spoiled offspring of one-child families (Little Emperors), especially the newly prosperous, to believe that they have a right to lord their rich consumer status over low-paid, poorly prepared, and administratively unsupported educators. Teachers are expendable, and salvaging tuition is a higher calling.

Many of us who have been here for several years manage our classrooms with strict discipline and genuine concern for student well-being. Eventually, our sincerity is believed and that, in turn, generates a certain measure of respect. This allows for a reasonably manageable classroom where the handful of students serious about language acquisition and cultural gain can actually glean something useful.

In some rural schools, where teachers might be as paid as little as $50.00 USD per month, educators sometimes resort to brutality against students in a quest for control. There are laws against such behavior, but they are not often enforced. The students, I beieve, are rebelling against a system heavily reliant on memorization, humiliation and devaluation of self. I do not absolve abuse teachers of any negligence or liability by believing that their behavior is part-and-parcel of a dysunctional system. “Chinese education has a long history of corporal punishment,” says Thomas Gold, a University of California-Berkeley sociologist who studies China. Teachers’ “social status remains low, so they may be taking out their own frustrations on laggard kids.” I could not agree more.

My last school, the one where I just resigned, caters to wealthy, underachieving children from privileged families. The school virtually sells advanced (and unaccredited) degrees to business and government leaders from the mainland; accepts known plagiarized theses from students who may or may not have attended classes; admits almost any undergraduate (these programs are accredited) with a healthy bank balance; hires raw mainland talent, looking for a foothold in teaching, at a fraction of the wages paid by government established schools, and with only ten-month teaching contracts containing no provisions for retirement; they protect a registrar who holds American and Chinese Passports and the deanship over five departments who brags about hiding his income from the IRS via a Hong Kong bank; they pad their website faculty list with professors from famous universities who are not active teachers; have investors on their board with government ties who shower the school with land and facility donations; and have a turnover rate for staff that is higher than the local McDonalds. The teachers, though better paid, feel no more self worth than those in rural environs.

It is hard for students to command respect for an education entity, such as the one I left. It is blatantly greedy and inept. But, many, many other Chinese schools, especially privatized ones, have also abandoned functional educational models in the pursuit of profit. And with only 1/3 of graduating seniors assured of work this year many students cannot muster the motivation to respect a system that does little for their future, less for their net worth and still condemns their teachers to social contempt.

It is no wonder that 40% of my former school’s Freshman class applied for transfer. And 20% of the best, brightest and ethical at the school were accepted by other institutions and thankfully will leave. Others wish they would have followed suit because they will be left behind with an even further demoralized and unruly student and faculty population. Only 40% of those students educated abroad will return to China to share the skills they will acquire. My guess is they will avoid the teaching profession if possible.

Any normal system would be embarrassed. It is necessary to examine ways to curb profiteering, improve classroom conditions and teaching methodologies by educating educators and then rewarding them accordingly. It is time to foster respect for those entrusted with educating China’s new managers.

In a country now increasingly pressured to compete globally in business–via skills and quality and not price–while tariffs, environmental concerns and increasing production fees lower profits, one would think China would sober up and ask for a ladder to be lowered to rescue a system now forty years stranded nearly six-feet under.

China Business,China Editorials,China Expats,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Confucius Slept Here,Expats,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Macau University of Science and Technology,Teaching in China,The Internet,Videos,中国,中文

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Hacktavists in China?

Hacktavists

One of the best books I’ve ever read was about the close of WWII and military loyalist attempts to counter the Imperial edict to surrender. Nihon no Ichiban Nagai no Hi (“Japan’s Longest Day”) is a surprisingly frank account of the actions of military brass bent on continuing the war against Allied Forces regardless of the consequences. According to Japanese historians who compiled the book, part of the pro-military “plot” involved overtaking radio broadcast capabilities in Tokyo. Had the perpetrators been successful the war may very well have continued on in spite of the devastating Allied attacks on Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Governments at war, pranksters and hacktavists today are still eyeing conventional media as part of operations meant to further their agendas. And from the planting of messages in your GPS system to psychological warfare blurbs calling for enemy surrender it is a potentially powerful tool.

Now even the most hyper-vigilant of cyber-nannies, China, has its hands full: According to The Sydney Morning Herald hackers interrupted satellite TV signals on Thursday in southern China to broadcast anti-government messages.

“Viewers complained that their TV screens went blank for nearly two hours or showed anti-government messages for 30 to 40 seconds on Tuesday evening, the Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News said in a report on the website Sohu.com. The report didn’t describe the content of the messages that aired in Guangdong province. TV station operators told viewers that hackers may have hijacked their satellites, the report said. But a receptionist who answered the phone at a cable TV operator in Guangdong said the incident involved a satellite problem that has been fixed.”

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, reportedly a newspaper, said the Chinese government censored news reports about the satellite interruption. Imagine that!
Time, and more information about message content, will tell us whether or not those hackers were in it for fun profit or political gain. To date, all I receive on my cell phone are SMS ads for hookers and illegal taxis and I would likely miss a broadcast on CCTV as I generally avoid watching it. But, who knows what is coming? Just last week authorities shut down a pirte TV station in Shi’an. Increasingly more sophiticated groups exploiting the Internet and emerging communication technologies are going to make for a host of long days for the cyber-com cops of the world.

Fave OMBW:

Uncensored Users:

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Censored Users in the Mainland:

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Censorship,China Business,China Editorials,China web 2.0,Chinese Internet,Chinese Media,Guangzhou,Guangzhou China,In the news,The Great Firewall,中国

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Wishes, Lies and Schemes of Social Commitment in China, Part I

one-drop.gif

There is a school in America that maintains an “Office of Social Commitment.” Ostensibly, the office is charged with, in part, sending bright, globally aware scholars to regions that can develop and utilize their youthful enthusiasm. Ideally this fosters the “fellows” acquisition of information about local culture and accords them skill building opportunities that can be transferred back to America or generously subsumed into future professional choices.

Here is the rub: The four fellows who come from that particular school are sent to work in two institutions: One is in Macau and the and other is in Nanjing. The former is a third-tier private, for-profit school with most students coming from well-heeled families, and the latter is an elite prep’ school. The fellows in Macau are simply handed a teaching schedule and sent off, without any preparation, to face the Great Wall of Student Silence that is built into most Chinese classrooms. Attempting to scale the Great Wall can repel veteran teachers and injure novices and journeyman alike if they are not well equipped. Chinese administrations will not help teachers to adjust as they have little time and patience for new and, well, expendible teachers. I watched two “fellows” suffer emotional melt-downs (they are somewhat fine now) because they received little or no responsible assistance to problems from their “commitment” office or their Chinese work-site. It seems that social commitment is only an external consideration and does not apply to working field staff.

Dostoevsky wrote: “As a general rule people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are too.” Sadly, that used to reflect my world view, but living in China among opportunistic and the ill-intentioned, posing as humanitarians, has altered my thinking. The head of the aforementioned social commitment office has in his website bio’ a telling metaphor: He ends his long list of organizational memberships and awards (Surely proof he is a good guy) with the announcement that he is adopting an Asian child. The child has no name, no history mentioned and upon close examination seems to be there only to add credence to the director’s bid for earthly sainthood–along with his being a “living kidney donor.”

In Nanjing the fellows are a bit better off, but are as essential to the fulfillment of ideologically meaningful goal as an i-Pod in the Gucci bag of an Orange County co-ed. This isn’t the community building your hippie dad knew in the Peace Corps of the seventies when he dug wells and irrigation ditches alongside poor farmers. The only holes that are dug in the examples mentioned are the emotional ones, like above, that once idealistic fellows will spend years extricating themselves from. The Chinese students at both of these schools, while lamenting environmental issues and social ills in the mainland, often come from families that work in government or head up companies that are part-and-parcel of troubling environmental issues and in financial charge of workers that increasingly need more attention than their designer clothed school children.

When I recommended possible educational agencies that might really benefit from the investment of a young foreign teacher, or schools where poor children may never have seen an outsider like those served by Volunteer English Teachers, I was told that it was just too much trouble to negotiate acceptable new contracts. Since when did social commitment get easy?

If you are headed here to help make sure you have the training and support you need to embark on your journey. And be sure you are not just part of your own or someone else’s need to uphold the appearance of humanitarian interests.

In the next installment I will be looking at NGOs, and Missionary Groups operating in Macau and the Mainland…

Coming:

Addicted to Mediocriy II and Dreams, Repression and Violence II….I lost many follow-ups in the server crash and am now reconstructing…

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Yuemei v Wade….

The Chinese and Thai Zookeepers show them Panda Porn and a zoo pregnancy gets more ongoing press than a Japanese Imperial gestation. So….

Why don’t give her what she wants, send her back to China and program her to listen in on zoo conversations between party leaders?

A creative video via Erasing the Sun from the screwballs at the Onion:


Panda Demands Abortion

Asian Humor,China Humor,Humor,Just Plain Strange,中国

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Violent Protests Rock Macau

Macau protests

While literally hundreds of thousand of would-be gamblers stood for hours in line at Chinese customs stations Macanese locals used their May Day Holiday to scuffle with police. Well-armed Macau policemen fired warning shots into the air, but there were no reports of injuries resulting from the gunfire. According to one report: “Chaos broke out when a group of protesters tried to force their way through a police cordon, to access a busy avenue that leads to the Government headquarters. Over a hundred police, in full riot gear, struggled in vain to hold the crowd back.” Some three thousand people joined in the May Day rally to condemn corruption, rises in real estate prices and to call for tougher action against illegal workers. Dozens of protesters and police were hurt last year, when a similar protest turned violent. Some protesters used the occasion to carry placards in Chinese protesting various casinos and in particular the Sands whom some locals blamed for last week’s suicide jump inside the casino by a gambler from Hubei province.

Many official reports are putting the numbers of protesters in the hundreds, The taxi drivers, who took the circuitous route around the center of the ruckus near world famous Senado Square, say the figure was certainly in the thousands.

Asia,Human Rights,In the news,Macau,Violence,中国

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