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Logos after the financial crisis…

Ya gotta laugh….

Found via Taiyun Chun on Facebook

New Apple Logo3 M new logocitigroup new logo

new chrysler logodell new logoferrari new logodow jones new logocisco new logoford new logogoodyear new logolg new logonike new logonokia new logobest buy new logoyahoo new logomcdonalds new logorenault new logo

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The play’s the thing!

chinese drama

English majors studying for various degrees within the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies performed four dramas last night. This year the 11th annual contest, for the first time in its proud history, braved the use of contemporary plays, condensed into 23-minute masterpieces by the students, most of whom had no prior theatrical experience at any level. To add an extra challenge, they employed peers as dubbers who spoke every character’s lines in perfect synch’ with onstage cast counterparts. They built sets, designed and tailored costumes, researched and applied their own make-up, rehearsed the shows wherever they could find space for groups of 10-16 and did all of this while attending the usual Chinese course load of 30-35 hours of class. –all this just prior to final semester examinations.

Chinese Drama Night

The plays were all sober American classics: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Desire Under the Elms; Madame Butterfly; and the not literally sober, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf. The writers had done their homework and rendered the essence of each play accessible, understandable and moving and with a flair I have not seen to date in Chinese or American students–and I have had the honor to judge speech and drama contests at countless provincial and national competitions in Asia and the U.S.. And the brief, but creative, humor-filled curtain calls that lent laughter and reprieve to a heavy night were extraordinary (Brevity is the soul of wit). And the show was emceed by beautifully articulate and professionally poised undergraduates who did not seem a bit intimidated by the thousands of their peers and  the resident and visiting VIPs in attendance.

Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly

I left wanting to write an open letter to the leadership at China’s top companies to tell them that they are fishing in the wrong waters for talent–they usually interview at schools with prestigious names–and that they should drop more than one line in the provincial pond at 广外 “Guangwai” University. No other school, out of the dozens I have visited, has been as rife with risk-taking enthusiasm, project management skills and enviable language and cultural strength. This campus would be first on my list of places to catch self-starters who have the the traits I would seek  in an employee: motivation, hunger and the ability to putin to practice, and into in cultural context what they have, and will, learn.

This is not a post about me, but you have to know that I have some authority, albeit limited,  to pour out praise: I have a room full of trophies from my years as a debater and interpreter of drama in High School and in College on a Presidential debate scholarship; I have taught college dramatic literature classes;  I have written and produced two plays;  I have founded three theater companies two of which are still in production; I have acted on stage in in film in over thirty professional productions and have been a stage director for everything from dinner fare to modern opera with the San Antonio Symphony, once winning me a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities that allowed me to study and socialize for a month with  directors like Morton DeCosta (Broadway and film director of Music Man and Mame), Douglas Turner Ward (Director of the Negro Ensemble Company and Ceremonies in Dark Old Men), Joseph Chaiken (author of On Becoming an Actor and director of the Open Theater), Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society..)…

The students were infinite in faculty, noble, brave and wonderfully advanced in linguistic and dramatic skills considering their level of training. I am proud and humbled to have been a part of a great work that many, like me, will long remember….

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Chinglish, Yue-yinglish revisited….

A new “instant best friend,” a term loaned to me by Paula Storti, now has made it into my personal lexicon courtesy of “Miss Xu“. Mimi is a bright and delightfully funny New Yorker who has watched too many episodes of Heroes or is one Amy Tan book over the line: she is in China to get in touch with her roots. Alex Haley would be proud of Mimi who is wholly Cantonese and completely American at once.

She is one of the few folks who met the Unsinkable Ms Yue and been been able to understand the cultural and emotional subtleties of this traditional Chinese Everymom. Ms Yue, who tries to keep secret her ongoing battle with cancer,  is one of the few people on the planet who can who can (and has) wander into a gay bar and interview the patrons about the veracity of claims to an alternate lifestyle without irking anyone.  Ms. Yue  also admits, “I no understanding,” but fearlessly encourages GLBT friends to “try, try,” just once, a straighter course…

Mimi, new to this blog, discovered a couple of old posts I thought I would combine here for re-reading. Try, try, won’t you?

I am one of those people who actually enjoys tests, especially those that challenge my verbal or reasoning skills. In basic military training, near the time of tri-corner hats and canon balls, we new recruits took a language aptitude test. It was basically an examination that determined whether or not we could make sense of an invented language. It asked us to extrapolate from one bit of seeming gobbledygook to another and then build sentences based on recurring patterns of subjects, objects and verbs. Such is learning to communicate with the unsinkable Ms Yue:

I wish I could teach my students the secret of true communication that Ms Yue has mastered. Too, I wish I could help self-absorbed colleagues understand that a lack of established vocabulary is not a lack of intelligence or sophistication and does not have to hinder a conversation. Usually I chide the expat, who knows bupkis about what is being said, for not honoring someone who probably speaks two-and-a-half languages fluently and several dialects within them, for being so ethnocentric…

Ms Yue could understand and explain Quantum Physics given enough time! Mu Mesons and Quarks might translate into something pretty hilarious, but if you were humble enough to enter her world you might actually learn something new.

Ms Yue is the bravest person I know and not because she is emotionally fighting cancer better than any patient I have ever seen in battle. But, it is because she has a fierce determination to learn, and then connect with, new worlds of information and adventure.

In contrast, my students, in the middle of a speech, will look to classmates to rescue them and find the right word for a sentence while Ms Yue will simply invent one. The students seek to have a command of English vocabulary; Ms Yue already has a command of communication skills.

One student last week stumbled through a date and ended up saying one-nine-seven-oh for the year 1970. He got the exam’s highest grade as much for his creativity, sorely lacking in Chinese college students, as his boldness. He did not reach out for help; he solved the problem himself.

Some very simple examples of Yueyinglish:

Check in = Exchange
Ki = Ticket
Laundry = Clean
This (while pointing to her heart and then mouth) and this , no same = Untrustworthy
One more = Do it again, repeat an act
The near = close to
Me the = mine
You the = yours
Where = what and sometimes who and how
You me together = we, us
The man = him, he or any person of male persuasion. The ultimate personal pronoun
Later = then, so or after
Crazy = funny, nuts, ridiculous
You wait me = Wait for me
No way = impossible, not, no
Try Try = Eat it you foreign wimp
Boy love the boy = transsexual, drag queen, effeminate man, gay
Open = take off, turn on, make use of

Now your test:

I laundry the ki so later check in no way.
I washed the ticket so there’s no way to get another one.
Together you me you me watch where the boy love the boy DVD?
Which Queer as Folk video are we watching together this time?
You the soup the pig meat xue try try no way? Try try.
You are not going to eat the pig’s blood soup I ordered you? Get over it!
The before the no same the man drink the coffee house the near wait me?
Are you going to meet me close to the place where your untrustworthy breakfast partner lives?
Open the shoes. Close the den.
Take off your shoes and turn out that light.
Where the crazy?
And what is so funny?

And all of these are accompanied by perfect facial gestures, sound effects like Cantonese tsk’ing (used for everything from displeasure to amazement), and exaggerated body language.

She bade goodbye today to a visiting fellow from Grinell College in America, a young man the age of her son, that she had come to care about and look after as though he were one of her own. Some problems, out of his control, with his visa are taking him home much sooner than expected. So, with sadness and anticipation in her voice that could bring tears to a native Yueyinglish speaker’s eyes, she simply said:

Later, one more, China. You try try, Ok?

Safe journey David. Please hurry back.

Intermediate Yue-Yinglish:

ms yue

I long ago set out to catalog the elements of style in Yueyinglish a rare and unusual sub-dialect of Chinglish unique to the only surviving member of the League of Extraordinary Chinese Women. But, I had not seen Ms Yue for some time and heard her and David using an expanded vocabulary that the aspiring Yueyinglish speaker should know.

Some new vocabulary:

curse=of course

turnf the off=turn it on

turnf the on=turn it off

QQ=cute

newshin=new

long time ago=it was intolerably long

cookie the rice=prepare a meal

waidter=weather

rainling=raining

have the small?=do you have change?

you the one people go?=you are going alone?

only the talking, talking!=don’t get upset I am just discussing this with you

craysheen=insane

Seeulateragulator=later gator

OK, now for some practice sentences actually overheard in Guangzhou:

So, how was Spiderman?

Long time ago!

How about the actors?

The movie one people QQ. The girl no beautiful. Bad the man craysheen da.

I am sorry we got out so late

Only talking talking ma. I go one people home and cookie the rice.

The movie house was crowded

Yesu! The man no tunf the on the cellphone.

So you want to go with David to see another movie?

Newsheen the movie, curse! You the one people want to go?

No, David would love your company. See you later

The waidther no way! Rainling! Take a taxi. You have the small? Seeulateragulator.

For those of you anticipating your YYSL certificates: You wait me, OK?

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Screaming Memes…

Long before micro-blogging tightened its Tetris-like grasp around the throats of our blogs many of us frittered away more than one rss feed on things known as memes. For you “kids” out there–the ones who think that LinkedIn members still use Betamax (you don’t even know what that is, do ya?)–a meme is a game of blog tag. It was invented by Notewe Meme an Indian Bollywood blogger who never recovered from a crush on Aishwayra Rai and spent his days inventing ways to divert his attention from the fact that she did the nasty thing (hugged in public) that “Yak Butter Butt” Richard Gere. But, I digress….

ME ME

My friend Jason, the force behind Social Media Release builder Pitchengine, tagged me and since I am desperate for the days before my mind stopped at 140 characters I am going for it: trying to wtite in complete sentences. I will tag someone else as soon as I determine who still has a blog they are updating….
1. I am the founder of Culturefish Media and several other projects, but, I’m also the chief cook and bottle washer for a lot of other stuff ( two non-profits boards and two guidance committees) for which I also don’t get paid. I am a teacher who pretty much has been in the classroom in one way or another (damn you Kintzler) 35 years! Culturefish was invented to fund CSR initiatives and to pay cancer bills for a couple of people close to me who remain afflicted. To date I have raised tens of thousands of dollars for China charities, built 7 websites for NPOs and Culturefish has donated 5,000 man-hours to China causes. I am writing two new books, starting a program for training in SEO, running 8 blogs and a internship program for Chinese CSR/Digital devotees.  I stay up until dawn and then hang upside down when I do sleep. I love social media and have been involved in it since before Jim Channon was involved with goats and I was on a think tank he started in 1978.

2. I was a poet, soldier, martial arts instructor and professional actor/director: I spent my college years at more schools than Sarah Palin, but actually graduated from a few. I am most proud of my degree in Fine Arts (writing)  and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry that the panel that year accidentally awarded to me.  I have published and produced two plays, three books and a bazillion (eat your heart out Rod McKuen) poems, articles and reviews in national and international magazines. I even managed to get a few Haiku and literary translations published in Japanese (even just one monkey on one typewriter can do miracles!)…. My most remembered roles in theater were: stage director for an modern opera for the San Antonio symphony and as Phil in Adaptation a great one-act show by Elaine May.

3. I’m a Mac. I’m not a graphic designer. I have trouble drawing circles in Photoshop, but even the oval-like things look cooler on a Mac Screen. I do a lot of  SEO and could do that on an IBM, but couldn’t rag people like Jason Kintzler who thinks viral is a nickname for Microsoft.

4. I own 5,000 DVDs and a week’s change of clothes: I have moved so much as a military brat, soldier and professional expat (teacher, entrepreneur…) that I feel like the oldest living confederate widow. I am from Colorado where there are more cattle guards than cars (makes for a big state payroll all those guards)….I think people age like the picture in the attic, but stay as young as Dorian Gray if they remain teaching or learning.  I live in China and will be here likely until Bush defects to Beijing to escape the Hague or Hu Jintao thinks he and the Dalai Lama are a good match.

5. I’m am the father of three girls. It is probably why my fashion gene (I own the domain, Straight Eye For the Queer Guy) probably kicked in. I dress like Oscar in the Odd Couple, but secretly pine to be a judge on Project Runway. I’ve have never lost my honorary gay card.

6. I did individual sports: Taekwondo, Hapkido, Long Distance Running, Sex, Wrestling (they gave us $35 bucks a month if we made varsity at Boys Town High), and Swimming (I ditched wrestling practice once and sneaked into the pool area and didn’t have the balls to admit I wasn’t there to try out for the team), and Archery. I was National  Outdoorsman of the Year in 1980 having paradoxically shot lots of animals and fostered a gaggle of conservation initiatives all at once. I have more broken and aching bones than did Evil Kneivel late in his career. I love to fish and golf, but couldn’t catch a cold in a mountain stream and constantly lose my balls (ya, ya)…No, I don’t fling sharp edged sticks at Bambi anymore.

I will tag a few folks in a day or two…

Be afraid, be very afraid…

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Trans-America II: Heartsongs

Shortly after my70’s military stint I did a home-stay with a Mennonite family, headed by a businessman who felt called out from society to a quite farm in Pennsylvania. Despite no TV or newspaper he was remarkably on the cutting edge of social responsibility and had more cultural savvy than daily news subscribers. And via his knowledge of the great books he more than hold is own in debates on topical as well as philosophical issues: his home went solar in the 70’s and he and his beautiful family lovingly maintained what industrialized societies slowly lose or alter: core values and sacrosanct time, conversation, and meaningful rituals: things that that Chinese families are losing. The Mennonites held hands and sang songs of thanks before every meal and during my stay, when community members called, they didn’t pause to ask why, how or when they could help a neighbor who was in trouble: they just helped without hesitation or reservation.  Though I could never live as austerely or as committed to a religion, I admired them as people, not imprisoned by their faith, but true celebrants of its simple focused lifestyle. They steered away from politics and involvement in affairs outside of their circle of faithful unless it was to involve themselves in pre-mediated acts of charity and kindness.

All of that was preface to my most moving and clarifying moment with them: They had had been involved a few years earlier in hurricane relief in the southern U.S.: They built, with donated supplies, homes for those who had lost everything in a vicious storm. The Mennonite crews who traveled to Mississippi built sturdy structures with 2-3 rooms with amazing skill and speed and shortly afterward would bring survivors to the site before completion so the new owners could decide where their kitchen and living room should be placed on the right, or on the left. It was designed to make the new inhabitants feel part of the process of erecting their new homes. One woman, who had lost her children in the hurricane and surgically needed both legs amputated due to injury, was carried in on a kitchen chair to inspect her coming surroundings. She immediately began to cry and aid workers quickly moved her back out the front door, fearful they had further upset someone already deeply traumatized. She stopped them and asked to stay, reassuring them that she was crying out of joy for what had been given to her, not what had been lost. She lives there today, visited occasionally by the Mennonites, who cherish the tenacity and courage of this modern day Job.

During my trip, my time with the Mennonites was one of many stories from my life in America of which I was reminded. Songs, movies, television shows, radio and the like reside in our collective conscientiousness: they invoke emotional states and resurrect global and individual memories of what was happening to us at a given moments in history. So, imagine what XM satellite radio (what am amazing service), a score of contemporary and classic television channels playing in my motel room and visits to emotionally charged locations I have not seen since the Vietnam era conjured for me who had not been back to American for many years.  I tried to pull the many disparate images and recollections into context and apply them to my understanding of America and its differences to China.

As an example: I relived the first election in which I could vote—something even Hong Kong citizens may not live to experience: I cast my ballot, with millions of other idealistic and hopeful young people, in favor of the gentle intellectual statesman and political dove Eugene McCarthy. My youthful enthusiasm for the American electoral process was buried for a few years in the following avalanche of hawkish conservatism, votes that hastened the deaths of 58,000 soldiers, my father among them, and millions of Vietnamese. I was present for Obama’s victory arguably less volatile: moderate in nature and less dramatic in its public manifestations—there were no “flower children trying to levitate the Pentagon through meditation, and no National Guardsmen gunning down the students protesting our involvement in war—but, no less a salute to idealism and change. It brought me to joyful tears as hope once again permeated a participatory politics I had thought was gunned down with Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the Kent State Four.

All week I enjoyed music that drew me back to school days and my first job: selling Grit Newspapers door-to-door in Pueblo, Colorado. Grit was a weekly read of good news and human-interest articles that made you feel hopeful and proud of your neighbors and countrymen. It was filled with the kind of articles a journalist in Shanghai told me was no longer in demand in 2008—even if I were to offer to write them for free. If you were to subscribe to her world-view, shaped by her time as a war correspondent, it would be one of a planet of violent, untrustworthy, primitive, easily manipulated, and dangerously selfish people devoid of goodwill.

Though my early world-view—one that has skinned its knees after repeatedly being shoved to the ground of late—remained positive, even though the stories called back to me this week were not all created with sunshine and granola: I re-lived the trauma of a father lost to war wounds and a mother subsequently lost to that grief; the pedophile sickness of Father Dan Maio, Pueblo’s youth ministry leader. But, more often than not, I retreated to the reverie of good memories, and the solace of long-time friends.

I met a lot of good people on this trip: people who reaffirmed my faith in simple charity and goodness without agenda. It is rare in China: people are loathe to care for each other for many reasons: their own poverty and inability to assist, their instinctive distrust of all-too-common officials who extract their pound of flesh from the leanest cuts of positive social deeds, their belief that public displays of charity are nothing more than a form of brand building and self-marketing and more…. And when luminaries and people who could save a great many lives refuse their time and talent because of nationalist agendas. I have been told that a charity for China has little hope of success with westerners because of America’s growing ethnocentrism, a lack of emotional connection to the millions still suffering form the effects of devastation this year and America’s own needs following tragedies in Texas and Louisiana.

But, thankfully my time in America began with the comforting company of Meryl in San Francisco, moved to the beautiful and gracious family inclusion of Cal Poly’s Associate Dean of Business Chris and then days of travel with Roland Catellier, the founder of a Disaster Relief Shelters organization that will begin its work by building 100 new dwellings for Sichuan quake victims during the next year.

Roland returned during to America in the 70s after 17 years of volunteer work in India, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico only to lose his wife within months to cancer. He then raised 7 children aged 2-14, alone, while establishing construction and real estate businesses along the way. Retired now, he looks to return to the missionary zeal of his roots and simply do good for those who have not fared as well as he has in life. He spent most of the time while traveling with me (when not smoking cigars) on the phone with companies who will build the first units to be placed in the hardest hit counties in Sichuan. Happily (the glass is half-full), he found the prices in the U.S. to be 40% less than that of Chinese companies in Dalian purporting to be subsidizing building needs. It called to mind a book I read years ago: How to Profit in the Coming Kansai Earthquake written by a man teaching you how to invest in disaster coming from a long overdue quake in the Tokyo region (sorry Rick it is overdue) with a business is business approach to human suffering.

And today on the airplane ride to JFK airport I spoke to a young man, aged 27 who told Roland that although he admired what he was doing though he could never see himself as a volunteer as he could not afford to donate his time, talent or money.  He went on to say that he was saving for the future and putting aside $1,000 US dollars a week—more than a farmer in Gansu, China might earn through four years of back-breaking labor—and his congenitally bad heart did not help matters—nor did it stop him from bow-hunting with ridiculously hi-tech aides for his primitive endeavor (laser range finders…) or from hiring guides charging thousands for a hunt on land plentiful with game to help him bag a trophy. It points up that charity in an ever challenging environment will have to offer value—trophies of profit or image– to both individuals and corporations in order to reach both sides of the compassion continuum.

I changed during this trip. Though sick and fatigued I re-learned (a work in progress) how to read the metaphors around me and how to interpret the lyrics and plot lines of the past. And now I own again some small ability to take a meta-view of the symbols around me. I don’t think the world has changed a great deal since I went to my first concert (Fleetwood Mac and Gary Burton and the Animals, Kaiser) in Southern Colorado, saw my first movie, heard of JFK’s death on the radio or watched a man land on the moon. There will always be, in varying portions, those who watch, those who pray, those who act, those who give and those who profit from adversity, turmoil or weakness. The songs are about them all, as are the pictures in magazines, and now the Tweet, blog post or Facebook entry. I am hopeful once again because I own the responsibility to act in accordance with my heart as mandated by my conscience and I see others actively doing the same so I do not feel alone. It is time once more to defy Pavlovians by directing myself via free will to associate the contemporary idioms and events of today with the sights, sounds and cadence of the good that I hope to sense again when I’m brought to reflection on them in the future…

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Thank You

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Trans-America

To say that returning to the U.S. after three years in China has been culturally disorienting would be euphemistic. Shel Israel is touring the Great Wall celebrating his awe and acquired insights via his blog and Twitter, and Robert Scoble is in Shanghai flashing packaged chicken feet in front of Fast Company cameras. Like them, I am trying to make sense of a new landscape. America is a bit foreign to me now as I travel the western U.S..

Cal Poly Business School

Cal Poly Business School

I was present in San Luis Obispo when the horns began to honk and cheers went up in all directions as Barack Obama became President Elect Obama. It reminded me of the day Hawaii became a State and they let us out of school amid a great and historic celebration;  I passed through San Francisco and visited a lawyer friend turned spiritual and inspirational entrepreneur (they are not contradictions)–who now lives in a monastery–when I heard frightening, violent words hurled from cars, Kristallnacht-like verbal stones, aimed at gay pedestrians in a bizarre celebration of the passage of a ballot Proposition banning Gay marriage in California.

I passed dozens of buildings vacated or marked “For Lease” in the city and on the outskirts of several better heeled cities I saw at least nine new prisons with oxymoronic names like “Pleasant Valley Prison” or soft-sell monikers like “Men’s Colony.” Local communities seem desensitized to penal “engines of inequality” where blacks and non-violent drug offenders are incarcerated instead of treated and rehabilitated (As an aside: VP Elect Biden has been instrumental in legislation to help repair the situation) and appear happy to have a new source of jobs in or near their already affluent communities. And then I spoke to curious, bright business students at Cal Poly for whom Professor and Associate Dean Chris Carr has helped create a soon enviable program that aims to inspire entrepreneurs and new venture champions in spite of the recent economic downturn.

I have reeled at the price of “cheap” food, been overwhelmed by the size of portions and left from restaurants feeling guilty for wasting so much of what was served to me. I have been unnerved by the quiet and open spaces so prevalent here and concomitantly heartened by the abundance of alternative energy initiatives and blue sky I wish again for China…

California Wind Turbines

California Wind Turbines

(Taken with my i-Phone so…)

It has been a meditative, disheartening, inspiring and enlightening journey for me. I came here to get much needed medical care from a system broken and in need of fixing, but still far superior to anything available in China. I stopped along the way to teach MBA students what I could about China and to give them insight/tools that might help them personally or professionally upon graduation. And as always, it has been me who has learned the most. This trip has fostered in me a greater “attitude of gratitude”: I hale from the greatest country on earth and feel even prouder of my home now that the election is decided. I live in an extraordinary place. I love my adopted home of China and am looking forward to my return…There are problems, but hope and promise in both places.

Oh, to attempt to escape from being too soporific or pedantic i will share one of my favorite photos of the trip. It was taken by a visitor from Spain who also waned me, in the middle of the men’s room, to shoot him in front of a very kitsch urinal. Say what you will about Chinese bathrooms and the holes in the floors (which they think more sanitary than placing your bum on a previously occupied seat), but this Niagara style waterfall warranted a photo:

Potty Humor?

Potty Humor?

Cross Cultural Training,Faceboook,Guangzhou,Human Rights,The Great Wall,Uncategorized,Violence

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China Bloggercon I

I have spent the last two days at China’s Bloggercon. Hundreds joined the community for lectures by Web devotees from Asia, Europe and the Americas. HKU professor of Journalism Rebecca Mackinnon described last year’s attendees as”…an exciting community of independent online writers, digital artists, media techies, entrepreneurs, educators, intellectuals, etc.” who have now attended the event for 4 years in cities across China> The event was held for the first time ever in the southern capital of Canton (Guangzhou, China) at the promising new arts venue Ping Pong Space. Thirteen dollars put you shoulder to shoulder with fellow bloggers and got you a new t-shirt as well 😉

I will be writing more about the incredible line-up of speakers and the insights I gained at one of the most comfortable gatherings of diverse and talented people I have ever joined in on…

Many people, using the hashtags organization’s tool for microbloggers many aggregated in real-time the events of the day and they were collected and commented on here: CnBloggercon in English and in Chinese one of he sponsors did an amazing job of keeping up with the activities. And bloggers, like Cn Reviews kept an insightful eye on the events of the two days while new Online Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing Culturefish Media Social Media PR rockstar Jason Kintzler donated a press room to keep Bloggercon at the top of the Google News rankings.

The topics ran from Internet Word of Mouth and Intellectual Property Rights to Art and Literature (Great presentation by Christopher Adam editor of  Joi Ito’s Free Souls Creative Commons book) to how to make money blogging with a mandate for listening to your social conscience va aid to Charity thrown in.

I will be posting pictures and personals lessons learned from friends, old and new, in coming days. It was one of those rare wonderful conferences to remember….

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The Monk in the Sycamore Tree

Shanghai and Beijing have enviable expatriate communities; many long term residents of China from other countries live, and foster social connections across cultural boundaries. Unless you are an young, resilient, party animal or a consular type, Guangzhou, with a few exceptions, can feel  uncomfortably transient and fragmented. That is why many have told me they hope for Web Wednesday to build on its first successful meeting of Chinese and Foreign Internet professionals.

That is all to say that a visit from an old friend, especially a gentle , deep-thinking one who always breaks up the unceasing rhythms of this hurried, harried immigrant workshop town for me. when he is around I happily feel cobwebs clearing on internal scaffolds of old dreams and aspirations.

He he is a Buddhist monk, 小双 (Xiao Shuang) who goes by the English name of Zachias. Zachias was the Tax Collector described in Christian literature as the man who climbed a sycamore tree in order to get a better view of Jesus Christ. 小双 actually chose his name after hearing a lecture of mine on Trappist/Benedictine monk and prolific writer Thomas Merton. I was talking about Merton’s last journey  before his death. He traveled to Tibet to meet the Dalai Lama in his quest to discover the true waters of religious thought he believed flowed from mainsprings the east. Merton had given his lifer to solitude believing that the distractions of the secular prevented a clear view of the spiritual. But, at that point in his life he also thought that the notion of complete segregation as practiced in his monastery created an illusion of holiness. Holiness is something in the distance and one rises above the crowd to witness it, to be guided by it, not to achieve it.

Writer Edward Rice would later call Merton, in a book by the same name, The Man in the Sycamore Tree.  Xiao Shuang aspires to be like Merton who is thought to have been a reincarnation of the Buddha by many Tibetan and Indian practitioners: He aspires to be a seeker of truth, not a symbol of reverence. And I aspire to adequately chronicle our talks of 25 years just as Rice did with his beloved friend Merton. In our two and a half decades of campanionship and cooperative learning we have never once argued. We have talked about everything from existential phenomenology to our mutual love for the Chicago Cubs.

Today we spoke of the Russian decision to commit troops to combat during the Olympics and actions of an American zealot in China for what has been called a “pseudo-guerrilla protest” on behalf of Tibetan Independence.

On both the conflict in Georgia and the missionary known as “iamgadfly”  he quoted Merton:

“While non-violence is regarded as somehow sinister, vicious, and evil, violence has manifold acceptable forms in which it is not only tolerated, but approved by American society.”

He viewed, as do I, both acts as unacceptable and violent: Russia violated a long-held moratorium against violence during the games; imagadfly purportedly was “giving a voice to the voiceless” when he vandalized upscale hotel rooms in Beijing, covered the walls in pro-independence slogans.

Zachias holds that a few obscure slogans in a hotel room, even broadcast on Youtube, could do nothing more than raise some angry voices in a country that recently received hundreds of hours of approved television instruction in Tibetan culture following the recent riots.  Ifimagadfly thought the Tibetans could not be heard before, he should imagine the din and roar resulting from his actions. Merton believed that the prayers issuing from his Abbey were powerful enough to effect world change. Zachias and I tend to believe, like CS Lewis, that prayer has more influence over the petitioner than the petitioned. At the risk of sounding opposed to human rights protests, we are both sure, and think Merton would agree, that delivering supplications to a deity as you commit a crime in a foreign country is unlikely to create a spiritual  butterfly effect for Tibet.

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The differences between Chinese and American education environments

A powerful, sobering look at American students today and why we need to re-think technology interfaces, Social Media and trends….

My students were always asking for examples of the differences in Eastern and Western education and social environ…Here is an answer from students themselves…

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Lethal Injections of Doubt…

It is not only the athletes warming up for the games: activist groups, the Chinese censorship squads, and extremists have all announced their plans to dominate the ceremonies.

Beijing has craw-fished on not just a few promises to the IOC, and the heavy spenders in media and advertising: They now say unfettered access meant that media could go to sites they thought journalists might need to call on in order to report a story. As widely reported, reporters the last two days have been unable to access many sites from the Press Headquarters-particularly those URLS that start with the letter “T”. This has so flustered some writers that every glicth is now in quesiton: some have started blaming routinely dismal connection speeds on deliberate sabotougue by authorities. we who live here know that you can brew coffee and prepare lunch waiting for Facebook to load.

And Beijing, rather than retreat from the pressure or do anything to dispel doubts, has given credence to the clains by such bonehead activity as employing cartoon police that will appear on users screens and remind resident and visiting Netizens to behave themselves when surfing. That law enforcement figures will be peering at me through virtual doe-eyes psychologically frightens me even more than would the real soldiers of censorship that could appear at any time.

And outside of Beijing we hear from the gifted blogger Michael Manning, thankfully back at the keyboard on the Opposite End of China, and he gives voice to many doubts about the veracity of claims by a supposed militant group, The Turkistan Islamic Party. TIP has claimed responsibility for an unlikely number of deadly incidents in China in recent weeks, and they may or may not be just a PR creation dreamed up by Beijing to give license to ever more oppressive security measures against ethnic minorities in the Northwest. The Youtubed militants issued warnings and called for support from fellow Muslims to wreck havoc throughout china during the games.nAs suspect as the videos calling for Jihad looked and as incredible as the footage was of a device-making member of the Turkistan movement, the damage to the international psyche, already conditoned by the US administration to believe Islam itself is an enemy combatant, has been done.

I made light two days ago of the ticket thriller episode in Beijing this week because it did not live up its the media hype, but there is a lot to be concerned about and I stand solidly opposed to increasing acts of censorship, and I remain (even for what little good i can do)  staunchly behind jailed activists like Hu Jia who were silenced by imprisonment in advance of the games.

But, I am equally disappointed and frightened by the actions of organizations who, in my view, are inappropriately orchestrating  campaigns that, while raising their International profile, might be putting their recruits in harm’s way.

Am-nasty International, who just backhanded Beijing for its human rights record today, is recruiting human shields to test ping sites they want to determine can be accessed or not by journalists:

“While you are in China, we will email you secret, anonymous links to the testing site (which don’t connect directly to Amnesty’s computers). The sites chosen for testing are ones which a tourist or journalist would feasibly want to access in China. Amnesty International believes that participating in these tests presents no risk to visitors to China.” Does Australian Amnesty know that you have to surrender your passport to get into some iInternet bars, and that college servers usuallly block site access before the IP request makes it off campus? The data collected will be weak at best and at what potential cost? Is Amnesty Australia going to pay for bail, legal defense or a ticket home if the shills get deported?

I am certain they know that they cannot guarantee the security of a routinely transmitted email (just ask the snitches at Yahoo). Hell, A.I. trusts people so much that the organizer of the Facebook cause for this initiative can’t be contacted even though the pictures and profiles of her supporters can be fleshed out even if the users’ privacy settings prohibit collection of information.

I visited several of the sites they want tested today. One reported a Senator’s claim, on the front page, that Internet spying equipment was long ago installed in major hotels in Beijing beore the games. Maybe so–Cisco helped out with that on a country-wide basis years ago. The story was positioned near an article about a  former astronaut who claims to have been briefed by the US Government about UFO landings. Really.

There are better ways to do this. But, my past experience with Amnesty’s procedures, once leaving a friend tortured and near death and signing false confessions just to remain alive while Amnesty passed on visiting him, but they sent a inquiry form instead thru his captors, has never struck me as particularly a well though out way to protect human rights. Why  doesn’t AI  just poll the horde of reporters (25-30,000) actually using the equipment without soliciting volunteers to wind their computer signals around some secret decoder IP?  I would rather see an e-blast poll, post-games, than know some kid was stared down by a cartoon cop until the flesh and blood cyber-screws showed up.

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It Wasn’t Anything Like the Beatles Concert at Shea Stadium….

So you thought the ticket sales ruckus in Beijing was culturally tied to the Chinese aversion to orderly lines, didn’t you? Actually, I thought they did pretty well considering 30,000 Olympic hopefuls stood  in line for two days waiting for the last of the tickets in the final phase of Beijing’s ill-conceived distribution scheme. Heck, I remember hawking my dignity to get the final seats available for a New Kids on the Block gig for my teen daughters (just a few years ago) and was happy to have escaped the sales booth with all my parts attached. Of course, my typically prepubescent girls complained later of nosebleeds at balcony altitude, but I digress…

The bump-and-run incident in Beijing that landed a Hong Kong (unaccredited) reporter in custody didn’t last as long nor was it nearly as interesting as the hair pulling I’ve seen on double coupon days in American Supermarkets. And i seem to remember an incident several years back where some poor woman was trampled into unconsciousness in Florida during a $29.00 DVD sale at The Great Wallmart. The best part of that story, as I recall, was the paramedics arriving to find her out cold, but till draped over her prize DVD. The manager, an altruist to make you proud, later called to check on her in the hospital and offered to put another DVD “on hold” for her. Uh, no the manager was not a teenager nor related to the victim (or me) in any way.

After the melee in Beijing the HK press began shouting that Beijing had reneged on its promise to offer open access to reporters. I am ready to take a bit of flack here by asserting that it looked more like an act of individual fatigue born of a weary, unprepared police force than it did a conspiracy to disembowel and and transplant fear from what’s left of China’s human rights carcass.

I suspect that among the million daily scribbles made by the prickle of press porcupines now inhabiting China’s capitol city a fair number of them will have to be a tad flamboyant in order to stand out enough to see print. With that many reporters in search of a sell-able story, it makes a midnight stroll through Baghdad feel safer than being on the other end of one of those writer’s quills.

I had a man start following me on Twitter two days ago who claims he is able to stop hurricanes and tropical storms with a special meditation technique–one he teaches for an undisclosed price. I wonder if he has a similarly gifted mutant in his group who can put a psychic finger in the Olympic Public Relations dike or a tiding of teenagers who can provide regular humility checks.

Report by LBH: Offical Collective Noun Spokesman for the 2008 Games

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Sichuan Volunteer Teachers Visit Chengdu

Video of first ever visit to Zoo by Sichuan Survivors. One of the Chidren lost 300 of  900 schoolmates in the quake. The father considers the dead children to be the “lucky” ones as there is little opportunity for handicapped workers in China and even less for those coming from poor areas.

GAmes given by Sichuan Volunteer Teachers

Another child who lost 2/3 of her classmates in a school collapse. Her best friend, trapped by rubble, died in her mother’s arms while waiting for help.

One of the Volunteers from the University of Michigan who is also helping to organize the Sichuan Teachers initiative. This is not easy work and there is an element of risk involved, but this volunteer says that the experience has forever changed his worldview and strengthened his commitment to others.

Pictures of rural area near Chengdu. Tent cities have little or no working facilities. Many toilets are hand dug holes in the ground covered with bits wood. Temporary houses (tin work sheds) have no ventilation and the temperature is running 10-20  degrees higher indoors than outside.

One of the volunteers became ill and left a day early. An aftershock struck shortly after his departure and destroyed the dorm in which volunteers were housed.

In Taekowndo we used to call this indomitable spirit”.

One of two amazing young students with incredible skills and enviable enthusiasm.

The site to visit for Sichuan Teacher matching is: http://sichuanteachers.org or a new in development which will showcase the Sichuan and other credible groups with needs: http://china-volunteer-teachers.org

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Chinese & American Online Searchers …

I enjoyed an article today about the search habits of Chinese and American youth. The short story is that the search stats for product information are incredibly similar:

Give advice to others about products/services purchased
*

Chinese 18-34       **Americans 18-34

 Regularly            Regularly

 Search Online        Search Online

Regularly          56.1%                53.8%

Occasionally       42.5%                43.9%

Never               1.4%                 2.3%

Source: BIGresearch, *China Quarterly (Q2 2008), **SIMM 12 (Jun 08)

What was not a shock to me, but might interest the folks who most read this blog (56% from the US)  was the way they shared information after they secured what they were looking for online: where American young adults prefer to pass information person to person or via email, Chinese Netizens text message, or call each other. So, that’s what is going on in most classrooms in China: They are not sending the exam answers to their buddies, they are just doing SMS reviews of that new i-BOD or i-Fone at the local electronics speakeasy.

As seriousness aside, it is a shock to a first-time visitor to see how prevalent SMS texting is here. I pampered myself a few weeks go with a movie and a pizza. It costs about 20%  more here (and 60% if adjusted for cost of living) for that combo than in the states–and we want them to quit buying 60 cent DVDs, but I digress. At Pizza Hut I guestimated that  2/3 of the people within view were either on the phone, sending a message or playing a game. And later, IN the theater, about 10% of the crowd there for Kung Fu Panda appeared to be glowing in the dark from ambient light coming off their cell phones.

What I found when i was teaching was that a rumor, truemor, or current event release could travel to every student residing at the far reaches of the campus faster than any Public Address system. Smart application designers are going to learn how to leverage that power in the very near future. I look toward mobile entrpreneurs to find ways to effectively deliver viral ads in the body of messages.

Me? I am still looking for a cheap James Bondian style pen that will jam non-emergency calls on the train, at restaurants and movie houses and broadcast parental style admonitions to the offending parties.

The more authoritative post is here:

Both Young Chinese & American Online Searchers Spread the Word but Differ in How They Communicate Findings, According to BIGresearch – MarketWatch

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So, how old would you be if you didn’t ….

The advice often given someone who laments their age and uses it as an excuse to not to go on for training or a degree is:”So how old would you be in “X” years if you didn’t go? The same age, right? So, wouldn’t it be nice to be a (insert specialty here)  by then?”

A friend of mine in Mississippi picked up his PhD in Fisheries Biology at the age of 60-something. But, was on the fast track compared to a Brit’ who started his doctoral research at 62 and just graduated, at the age of 91, from Cambridge. A big salute to a fellow veteran (no I wasn’t in WWII) who became the first in his family to get a terminal degree–though one should never say terminal to a 91-year old new graduate.

One of my favorite lines of encouragement is: So what is 2-3 years compared to the rest of your life? And I have, until this last year, lived life with that in mind. I am headed back to that lifestyle soon. I see Chinese classes, Photoshop tutoring, some volunteer teaching in Gansu and a new book of prose poems in my not-so-distant future.

Here is the original reference to the story of the most augustine (I made it up) grad’ of an pretty august institution:

War veteran Michael Cobb’s PHD at 91 – Telegraph

The Graduate

Suppose you can get a job at 91 that will pay off a student loan bill from Cambridge?

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Re-Building again….

Computer virus

It seems there were remnants of the attack a few month ago and I lost 20-30 posts.The back-up feature was disabled by spammers. I will check with the Wayback Machine and see if I can restore some of the good ones, but…

Ezra Pound wrote a poem a day for a year only to destroy them. He did it to prove to himself that the creative well does not empty. I am feeling a quart or two low, but I will get over it….

It thought it might be fun to re-post some things I wrote over the last two years related to the upcoming Olympics…

More to come…

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Ghost Whispers

death catcher

I learned today that my sister passed away. I learned over the Internet that she died in November of last year. She was much older than me and never in great health, so I had wrongfully assumed she had “crossed over” years ago. Tonight in the still heat of a stifling Guangzhou I smelled the sour scent of some hard traveled memories and heard her whisper to me….

No, we were not close. Marriage came early for her, when I was 5, and before I was developmentally mature enough to crave or mourn losses. My military family was turning corners in or out of countries every three years or so and making the word “home” an abstraction. My sister was never in our family pictures. I saw her only a few times through the years and her face in my mind’s eye is blurred. I can remember her often speaking of pain and that remains palpable.

Until tonight I had almost forgotten I had a sister. She had been adopted by my unmarried mother at birth. She saw herself later in life as a stubborn vine that connected all of us to my mother’s alcoholic ex-husband and his mistress: She was the offspring of an affair, so her past was kept secret by my simple and well-meaning parents until she was a teenager. My mother and father, emotionally unsophisticated and afraid, asked a Catholic priest to substitute for them and tell her that she was adopted. It did not go well.

I have been watching DVDs this week “expat style.” We often buy two or three seasons of a show at a time, ones we cannot watch on regular TV and then air them from beginning to end in only a few days. It is a way to keep current with our abandoned culture and remain bonded to the lexicon, fashions and familiar emotions of our birth home. This week I have been storming through two seasons of Ghost Whisperer. And I have come to love the show for its generally positive outcomes, its promotion of health through acceptance and forgiveness and its desensitization of our collective fear of the unknown.* The protagonist of the show, who can see troubled spirits, helps earthbound souls unpack the heavy emotional baggage that holds them here. She helps them release after-longing and pain from the past so they can peacefully migrate into their future. It is not a story about religion, or eschatology (life after death), but about how to live well and without regret.

My mother developed Alzheimer’s disease and never was able to finally confront the trauma of being abandoned by her impoverished mother during the Great Depression. Too, she rarely spoke about the man who had deepened her emotional wounds later in life. She did so to protect herself and to maintain some illusion of normalcy for my sister and me. There was no malice in her deception, though my sister never forgave her or my father and never found emotional nourishment that would sate the pain. Where my mother insulated herself with delusions ( and maybe her disease), my sister did so with anger and distrust. After my mother died, I read in another Internet article that my sister had embarked on a public journey to discover more about her origins. I hope to learn one day that she was successful.

I wonder if other expats learn about their vacated lives past and present as I do? I view time compressed, via boxed sets of information that arrive in emails, letters, DVD’s and Internet entries. It was almost five years ago to the day that I leaned my sister’s husband had died an improbable death: an avid outdoorsman, he had contracted Bubonic plague from an insect bite while hunting. He was the first man in America known to have succumbed to the disease in decades. He was the most gifted craftsman I have ever known, but held back from his dream of being a woodcarver and gunsmith by the needy gravity of my sister’s suffering. So, I grieved my loss and his because his short fame was only in the peculiarity of his demise. We wandering expats may seem not to care about what happens to you, but we do. I do. And I, like others, frequent the few paths we can find along time’s rivers looking for signs of you. But can be a lonely and overwhelming journey when information flows so fast from so far away.

I laugh, mourn, celebrate and educate in absentia. Memory also presents to me as a frightened bird that requires patience to keep it nearby long enough that I can study, appreciate and accept both its beauty and its flaws.

I pray that both my sister and my mother are finally at peace. I long ago forgave them for simply being human. I hope they forgave this homeless child for the manifestations of his confusion .

I am the earthbound spirit now: I am on the banks of the river, coaxing the birds and vigilantly listening for whispers….

————————————————

* In another coincidence, I was surprised to see that the crystal ball mind reader on the GW website was created by my old friend and British doppelganger Andy Naughton .

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The Perils of Prosperity in China: New Grapes of Wrath

Poverty in China

The number of middle class and wealthy Chinese is growing in China, but the distribution of wealth is increasingly disproportionate. And the situation is worsening with the nouveau riche paying the government the fines required ( Fines range from under 5,000 yuan ($646) to 200,000 yuan ($25,800) depending on the violators location and income) to raise more than one child. Rural poor, in contrast, are increasingly worried more about basic health care and housing and cannot afford to consider a larger family. According to The Guardian, “…growing numbers of pregnant women are risking their own lives and those of their children by seeking back-alley deliveries to avoid fines for having more than one child, Xinhua quoted Deputy Minister of Health Jiang Zuojun as saying.” A Chinese news source stated that more than half of the maternal deaths in one province were due to illegal abortions.

Several papers reported this week that a new baby boom is likely on the way in China, but will be comprised of well-heeled children. Under current laws the offspring of one-child families can now raise two children of their own. In my last school, made up primarily of rural students, most of them had brothers and sisters. The school where I teach now is populated by the only-children (those born with a “golden” spoon in their mouths) of industry owners and government officials: the Little Emperors often spoken of in Industrialized China.

The consequences of the growing disparities in a country still defining the boundaries of a new social structure are vast and varied, some with devastating outcomes: China Digital Times recently reprinted a story about a farmer in China’s beautiful Yunnan Province. The land owner’s crop of sweet potatoes was destroyed as local leaders, empowered to make decisions about private land holdings, sought to force him to grow tobacco. Rather than yield, Yue Xiaobao detonated explosives strapped to his body as he approached officials from his village of Lishan. He killed himself and Lishan village leader Ren Xuecai. Nine others, mostly village cadre, were hospitalized and many were expected to lose their eyesight.

Increasing poverty, lack of health care, greed and the unchecked authority of local government officials has led to more violence and suicide countrywide. There are recurring reports of uninsured rural villagers killing themselves to save their families from the financial burden of a needed medical treatment or hospitalization. Like Liu Xiaobao many have injured or murdered government officials or health care professionals before taking their own lives.

The cultural divide is no longer an issue between western nations and China, but an internal and burgeoning one between classes in a country new to the perils of prosperity. I remember well the stories of civil and criminal disobedience my parents told of life during the Great Depression. It is now China’s turn to grapple with industrialization; there could well (I hope) a Chinese Steinbeck or citizen journalist that chronicles the changes brought on by the nearly twenty thousand concerted annual protests in China and the individual citizen voices now making themselves heard.

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Yue Yinglish 101

Revisiting Yue-Yinglish 101

p>I am one of those people who actually enjoys tests, especially those that challenge my verbal or reasoning skills. In basic military training, sometime not long after the time of muskets and canon balls, we new recruits took a language aptitude test. It was basically an examination that determined whether or not we could make sense of an invented language. It asked us to extrapolate from one bit of seeming gobbledygook to the next and then build sentences based on recurring patterns of subjects, objects and verbs. Such is communication with the unsinkable Ms Yue.

MSYUE

I wish I could teach my students the secret of true communication that Ms Yue has mastered. Too, I wish I could help self-absorbed colleagues understand that a lack of established vocabulary is not a lack of intelligence or sophistication and does not have to hinder a conversation. Ususally I chide the expat, who knows bupkis about what is being said, for not honoring someone who probably speaks two-and-a-half languages fluently and several dialects within them, for being so ethnocentric…

Ms Yue could understand and explain Quantum Physics given enough time! Mu Mesons and Quarks might translate into something pretty hilarious, but if you were humble enough to enter her world you might actually learn something new.

Ms Yue is the bravest person I know and not because she is emotionally fighting cancer better than any patient I have ever seen in battle. But, it is because she has a fierce determination to learn, and then connect with, new worlds of information and adventure.

In contrast, my students, in the middle of a speech, will look to classmates to rescue them and find the right word for a sentence while Ms Yue will simply invent one. The students seek to have a command of English vocabulary; Ms Yue already has a command of communication skills.

One student last week stumbled through a date and ended up saying one-nine-seven-oh for the year 1970. He got the exam’s highest grade as much for his creativity, sorely lacking in Chinese college students, as his boldness. He did not reach out for help; he solved the problem himself.

Some very simple examples of Yueyinglish:

Check in = Exchange

Ki = Ticket

Laundry = Clean

This (while pointing to her heart and then mouth) and this , no same = Untrustworthy

One more = Do it again, repeat an act

The near = close to

Me the = mine

You the = yours

Where = what and sometimes who and how

You me together = we, us

The man = him, he or any person of male persuasion. The ultimate personal pronoun

Later = then, so or after

Crazy = funny, nuts, ridiculous

You wait me = Wait for me

No way = impossible, not, no

Try Try = Eat it you foreign wimp

Boy love the boy = transsexual, drag queen, effeminate man, gay

Open = take off, turn on, make use of

Now your test:

I laundry the ki so later check in no way.

I washed the ticket so there’s no way to get another one.

Together you me you me watch where the boy love the boy DVD?

Which Queer as Folk video are we watching together this time?

You the soup the pig meat xue try try no way? Try try.

You are not going to eat the pig’s blood soup I ordered you? Get over it!

The before the no same the man drink the coffee house the near wait me?

Are you going to meet me close to the place where your untrustworthy breakfast partner lives?

Open the shoes. Close the den.

Take off your shoes and turn out that light.

Where the crazy?

And what is so funny?

And all of these are accompanied by perfect facial gestures, sound effects like Cantonese tsk’ing (used for everything from displeasure to amazement), and exaggerated body language.

She bade goodbye today to a visiting fellow from Grinell College in America, a young man the age of her son, that she had come to care about and look after as though he were one of her own. Some problems, out of his control, with his visa are taking him home much sooner than expected. So, with sadness and anticipation in her voice that could bring tears to a native Yueyinglish speaker’s eyes, she simply said:

Later, one more, China. You try try, Ok?

Safe journey David. Please hurry back.

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C-MBA Programs: Trans-Pacific Crossings….

China MBA Education

I had the pleasure to accompany the Cal Poly MBA Program’s learning tour through China yesterday with Professor Chris Carr, professor Jay Singh and a gaggle of new graduates and ongoing students.

One of the cultural differences, of an enormity of variations, that struck a few of the visiting MBA students was the inability of Chinese learners to move between departments. Students enroll for a major and are not permitted to transfer to another department. This is common at most schools like the one we visited and others that remain comfortable teaching via traditional Chinese methodologies.

However, both East and West are looking to each other to fill in gaps their respective time-honored traditions have created. Within twenty-four hours of our tour, I noticed online advertising for three of America’s top business schools now actively recruiting in China: Harvard, Duke, Lingnan, and Maryland. Conversely, American curriculums now have programs structured to focus on China. International business leaders, Chinese or American, know that cooperative negotiations often yield better results than competitive ones. I’m especially impressed with the program at Cal Poly structured to culminate in a four-credit business and cultural study tour of China. Cal Poly has beat Yale to the punch in the hope of internationalizing its graduates, but Yale’s president Levine wants every Yale student to spend time living or studying abroad as part of an undergraduate experience.

Wall Street Journal’s Jason Loew quotes the president of Yale University as saying, “the U.S. isn’t issuing enough work visas to the highly trained foreigners who graduate from U.S. universities each year.” He suggests raising the caps on visas for foreign-born holders of doctorate degrees in order to further capitalize on the sea turtle phenomenon I posted about recently. If Yale’s Richard Levin had his way, he said, he would “staple green cards, as permanent resident cards are known, to their Ph.D. diplomas.”

He cites our growing need for trained engineers and scientists in hopes to capitalize on their discontent with conditions in their homeland. If I had my way, the US Department of Education would be putting more money into developing our own crop of science-savvy graduates and further, we’d be developing more incentives for cross-cultural exchange in education.

If it is so important for us to bring in foreign talent because we are not able to supply it, I think the answer also lies in marketing in-country programs to the Chinese. Because according to Loew, Congress permitted 85,000 H-1B (stay behind) visas to be issued this year, of which about 20,000 are reserved for foreigners with a graduate degree from the U.S. Loew writes, “There were so many applications this year the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting forms one day after it started the process.” It signals something is amiss either in the social or educational structure extant in China. Even though China is offering incentives to returnees, the odds of getting rich here are much greater than those in America, and Sinophobia is fast returning, they are still opting to travel and stay abroad.

Employers and of course universities continue to put pressure on Congress to raise the visa quota, but last year’s immigration bill failed to go through. “Companies want it. The universities favor it,” Mr. Levin said, according to Loew.

Loew’s article reminded me that a handful of schools are beginning to adopt Western liberal arts approaches to education, likely as a way to preclude students’ dissatisfaction as much as gain competitive traction in the global marketplace.

Two of China’s top ten universities, Fudan University and Beijing University, are taking small steps towards liberalizing their curriculum in hopes of advancing innovative thinking. Around 10% of students at Beijing University can explore a variety of subjects for the first three semesters before focusing on a major. At Fudan University, all freshmen are now being integrated into a liberal arts-based curriculum.

Educational innovators in the United States and the UK need to seize the day and begin offering courses at home and abroad that integrate the best of East and West. England and America have long ago industrialized education but managed to maintain high standards and the majority of the world’s top 100 rankings for schools. They have sacrificed quality by industrializing their educational system so rapidly, so this is one case where they have more to learn from us than we have to learn from them. But, with the Chinese government throwing huge dollars toward overseas education in hopes of even getting a small return, and with educational institutions beginning to functionally adopt workably good methodologies, it’s time other schools follow in the footsteps of Cal Poly, Lingnan, Duke, Harvard, and Maryland.

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