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Dialogue with a Chinese Young Man over Years

Email Questions and Answers with a Chinese young man and Gayle Kimball over a few years

An Unordinary Student

I guess different is a word that can define me. Nothing can confine my thought. I am a thoughtful person. I have been different since I was a child. Everyone knows me or heard of me know I am different. Chinese people regards good results as successful, I certainly have that. But I’m special. I never yield because I have my own soul and thought. Growing up in a single family may have something to do with my character. It made me mature earlier than others. My great mother is every reason of my world. Without her and her unconditional love, everything won’t be the same.  My mother encourages me to be myself. She encourages my uniqueness and Individuality.

I used to question why I have such unordinary life. All I wanted is a normal life. I so desired I was just an ordinary person. But it’s my life that makes me so special, so different. I never yield, and I’m still struggling. Life cannot treat everyone equally. We cannot choose our life, but we always have a choice how it will be.

My thirst for the known may be another thing makes me different. Sometimes my classmates even get annoyed by my asking questions. I have nicknames like Mr. Why, Mr. What If, and Mr. One hundred million questions… I am not like other peers taking in whatever they are taught. I question. I want to find the truth myself.  My American English teacher found most Chinese students are trained to memorize rather than think. That is definitely true. The education is the biggest pity in China. They are not teaching you to think, to find the truth by yourself, to have your own idea, but teaching you to believe. The education system and the media are controlled by the government. They tell you 1+1=2, and they tell you Chinese Communist Party = a perfect leadership, from primary school! It’s more like brainwash. They make the political theories as textbooks and force you to memorize it, and exam you. That’s what most disgusts me of the government. But all has something to do with the Chinese culture. Thousands years profound feudal culture root may explain many things.  “Even if he/she tells me, I won’t believe the answer totally as I always do.”  I mean as I always question, I certainly will doubt whether the answer fits my life.  I like questioning. I doubt authority.

I love reading. When other children were playing with toys, I was reading books. Extensive Knowledge makes me different. The enthusiasm of western culture influences me much. I am influenced by different cultures, which makes a nontraditional Chinese. I think I am cosmopolitan.

Also I love art. I received a notional award for my painting when I was in 4th grade. I am a very imaginative person. The artistic creativity and imagination benefit me for life.

I only saw the ocean in TV. ( *_ * ) What a pity! I long to feel the ocean myself one day. Shame I never been to the seaside while I feel have an affinity for water. My Chinese name Wei in Chinese means wellspring (of water), fountainhead, fountain, water. Wang is an adjective describing that ocean is vast. So mostly I am called Water Brother. I joked that I will found a company Water Brother to beat down Warner Brother.

School

The education and medical systems are rather defective in China. All the teaching virtually is all for exams. We are all defined by the exams. And whether you can go to the university you like is utterly depend on one final national exam.

Well, I saw the cheating. They either hided notes, compared answers to others’, or like you know, used their friends’ help.

I have been one of the top students ever since my primary school. I receive my education in public schools. Because of my good results and the success in the entrance exams, I don’t have to pay extra money but the basic tuition fees (If one doesn’t pass the entrance exams they have to pay a lot of money to go to certain school as the government can only allocate limited allowance for partial students.)   I have been trying to win every single scholarship as much as I can to abate the burden of my tuition. However the scholarships in China are not like those in the USA or other developed countries. It is just small part of the tuition. My mom has been financing me. I don’t know what it would be like without my mom’s support, which absolutely is not just financial. I definitely will pay her back with all I have.

The students who pass the entrance exams just have to pay the basic tuition fee. As for those who not, they have to pay certain money to the high school they want to go to. For example, if a high school sets its standard that students whose total scores of the entrance exams is no less than 500 can get the admission, then the students whose total scores is 496~499 should pay RMB 6000 to get the admission, 491~495 pay 7000, 486~490 pay 8000, 481~485 pay 9000, 471~480 pay 10000, 461~470 pay 20000, 451~460 pay 30000, …   Different schools have different standards.  But for universities, there is only one standard. If the bottom line is 500, who got 499 or less cannot get the admission anyway. (But I also heard some who have connections or money managed to go to university they want to at last.)

The nine-year compulsory education now is basically free for children. The amended Compulsory Education Law came into force in 2006. The rural areas first benefit and children have gotten free education. It’s said that all the rural areas have gotten free compulsory education. Till this year the law will ensure all the children in urban areas get free education. Still situations in different regions are different. Back at my time, the school didn’t charge very poor children for tuition. But only a few benefited. Now they don’t have to pay anything thanks to the policy.

The size of class actually varies with the local population and the difference can be wild. At my time, elementary class in my school was around 80, middle school about 70, and there were 67 students in my high school class. The class is generally oversize. It’s really hard to say the average size. An elementary school class could range from 66 to 100. The maximum size I know is 127, in Haikou City, Hainan. A middle school class could have 60 to 80 people. In 2004, 27.65% middle school classes have 56~65 students, 23.38% have more than 66 students. Most common figure for a high school class is around 80.

As for the teachers who played poker in their office, they were undoubtedly irresponsible. They just managed to have their own class done dutifully. I can’t say I could generalize this phenomenon to the whole country. But what does that say? I don’t think many teachers really love to be teachers. Some or perhaps many of them don’t pursue persistently what they really want. Maybe they couldn’t find a job so they apply to be a teacher or maybe they even don’t really know where their true potential lies. Almost half of the girls in my class took an exam to get a certificate for teaching. Only two really plan to be a teacher. I asked the others and some of them said if they couldn’t find a good job then being a teacher would be their last card, some said because their parents told them to as teacher is a secure job at least. That reflects the increasing pressure of getting a job. And somehow I can sense their anxiety under the seemingly equality. Much work still need for equality of women and men.

As a language learner, I am trained to master at least two foreign languages besides Chinese. I am learning French and Japanese.

I often dream in English but just a few times in French. My roommates often tell me I talk in English when I’m dreaming. My major is translation and interpreting, so my mission is to build all-around abilities for a competent translator. I am required of sufficient knowledge of Intercultural Communication, Economics and International Business, also acquainted knowledge of many other subjects such as tourism, advertising etc.  Having a keen interest in culture, especially western culture, I may be concentrating on culture study in my postgraduate study.

[GK: Do students travel as tourists in China during summer break or is it

too expensive?] Not many as I know. Most of us are busy with our part-time jobs, and, of course, it’s expensive for a student to travel.

It was a joke we all talked about among our classmates when we were kids that if one day we had been the chairman of China, the first thing we would do is fire the head of the Ministry of Education. We generally complained the pathetic education system of China. Absolutely the first thing I would do is to reconstruct the education department. Totally erase the disgusting CP theories lessons from the list. It wouldn’t be compulsory any more. I would encourage small class. There are 70 or more students in a class in China now. The teachers actually cannot pay attention to every student equally.  Some students are ignored.  How the educational effect is can be simply imagined.   There are enough teachers but they are not well managed, some are too busy whereas others are just setting in the offices all day or even pay poker there.   Entrance exams would not be allowed, the admission standard should be different to different students, and count on their average performance.

. In Chinese high school, I don’t think there is clear conception of clique or territory, but the famous word ” birds of a feather flock together” seems to be very true. There is no reserved territory in cafeteria. You can sit wherever you like. But some people may reserve one or two seats for their buddies if they go to lunch together. The same as we do in college now, and going to the classroom. I remember in my high school, “birds of a feather flock together.” There were “the cool,” and “the bookworms,” which I belonged to. You can see they flock after class or hang out together. Top students like me are considered as ”teacher’s pets.” I felt when those “goof-off” talked to me; they seemed to think there was a line between us, and that we were different. It was like people intangibly divided themselves to a group. Nevertheless, I always treat everyone the same. We are born equal anyway.  ( ^ _ ^ ) Ethnic minorities are almost assimilated. In most part of China, you can hardly see a distinguishing clothing style. Only in some autonomous region I suppose.  I had two classmates in high school, whose ethnic minority identity only be found by us not long before graduation.

Secondary school is all about study. We should get up very early to make it to school at 6:20, especially those who live far from school.  I suppose only Chinese students have to get up so early to school in this planet. Morning class begins at 6:30. Until 7:15, we are supposed to read loudly to memorize.  Because the exams will ask you what exactly the books say. And most of the time you have to write down exactly the answers in the books. I hate this. But to keep my scholarship I have to read sometimes. Mostly I just read quietly, I think and memorize by my comprehension. 7:15 to 8:00 is time for breakfast. 8:10 to 12:00 is class. After morning class we go home for lunch. 14:30 to 17:00 is also class. One hour for supper, then 18:00 to 22:40 is the time we self-study, do the homework; some teachers use this time to continue their class. Finally we are free, go to our warm home. Yet we need to hit the sack early to get up early. This cycle is a boring routine. It’s only during the weekend that we can manage our life ourselves. In middle school we have a two-day weekend, in high school only one—Sunday, whereas in the third year of high school which is well known as Bottom of Hell we merely get Sunday afternoon to replenish our insufficient sleep. You can see how dull the life in secondary school is. We are confined. It’s just one aspect how pitiful the Chinese education is.

Fortunately, college life is great. We usually have two or three lectures every day on weekdays; some people may have one at weekend. There is plenty of time to do what we want. Many join in different student societies.  I am a member of the IT Association, and selected to the Advanced Ballroom Dancing Class in my university.  Different people have different extracurricular activities. Some of classmates switch between their lesion and the activities, which just makes their day.  My typical day recently begins with morning class. Then usually a whole afternoon is spent in the library to absorb knowledge extensively, if the teachers don’t have much I need to be assistant with. (I’m taking a part-time job as a TA.) The library is my oyster.

In the evening I spend at least half an hour practicing ballroom dancing. I love ballroom dancing and being a member in the advanced class let me know that practice makes perfect. After getting tired I get on line, update myself with the world. It’s a fun to immerse myself in the infinite library of Internet.  Before sleep I will review English and French. I choose to live abundantly with the time I have.

Meaning of Life

I believe that everyone has their own life, God gives each one their unique life, and we should get the answer ourselves. We are all searching the answers of life, questions make life mysterious. How could someone know the answer of your own life? Even he/she tells me, I won’t believe totally as I always do. It’s my own duty to find the truth. Sometimes you really desperately need someone to guide you from the darkness. The one who guides you is your teacher. A good teacher is one who shed a light; he/she helps you find the answer yourself.

I am very very interested in such noetic techniques and theories. I am always seeking similar books. Already read lots of such books, I definitely find these theories tremendously helpful. I believe my spirit controls my physical condition. I am actually giving myself a medicine-free treatment for my gastric ulcer. I use meditation and hypnosis to cure myself. Hitherto I haven’t taken medicine for almost one year. I don’t have any ongoing symptoms like before. I don’t feel chronic pain any more. (Only a few times when I danced Latin too intensely. And when I got a cold the pain was kind of like a complication last time) Yogurt also helps a lot, I suppose.

Also in the most stressful high school [senior year], which is well famed as The Bottom of Hell, those techniques and theories helped me reducing a lot of stress. Funny I suddenly realize at that time my help for classmates was also sort of “life coaching.” They thought I was good at that emotion stuff and consult me with that stress, apprehension and even tension in relationship with others. I felt like a psychologist then.

What I think different is that it’s not for emotion freedom, but kind of emotion enhancing techniques. I get emotionally tougher. It is tremendous emotion power within that I feel can overcome the external world.

Spirituality

I am listening to the meditation CD everyday now. Amazed, I am still thinking… Before I got your instruction of meditation from the CD, I never really had any compete lesson of meditation. I must have gotten fragmentary tips but I can’t recall where. I never thought of when I began meditating and how I learned it, as if meditating is a natural ability.

There are two cartoon books by Japanese cartoonists influenced me before I can read and write–Athena’s Saints, and Sailor Moon. Athena’s Saints is a fantasia story based on the Roman and Greek mythology. Athena’s each saint warrior guards one constellation and they have special power. From the book I learned the conception that there is a “small universe” in everyone’s within (a lot like “bio-field” or “energy field” you mentioned in the CD.) This small universe is where we get our energy. And we can let the small universe within grow. The degree of the power of Athena’s saint warriors depends on their small universe. If they ‘”burn” the small universe and let it explode as much as possible, they can conquer any evil power. That resembles the “Cosmic Energy” in your CD. And instead of getting Earth Energy, the book suggests seek the infinite energy and power within.

I do know western astrology.  I got to known it before school, as a kid I was obsessed with a Japanese comic book Athena’s Saints. In the story every saint guard a constellation. I’m also Gemini, I love Gemini’s guardian star, Mercury. In Chinese Zodiac, I am tiger.  Actually the Chinese Zodiac is not astrology; it is the way that people count the years in the ancient times. They use twelve animals to mark the years, twelve years is an around.

In the other book Sailor Moon, every warrior guards one planet in the universe, and their power comes from their planets. Interestingly, I learned to feel the power and energy from the Sun, the Moon, and the Galaxy, but I never tried to feel the Earth Energy. And the prayer–I seemed to add everything together to the daily prayer. I think I was about seven or eight years old when I started doing this. I prayed every night before sleep. I beg God to grant me power and heal any of my discomfort, I imagined the power came from the universe, joining to my bio-field and enhancing it. For example–how I take care of my stomach problem–I try to feel the cosmic power enhance my energy field. I put my hand on my belly and concentrate the energy to my stomach and let it heal the ulcer and wound in my stomach.

I had perfect health when I was a child. Looking back, that’s definitely due to the meditation I did everyday. But after middle school I gave all my time to study. I did meditation less and less, and the pressure just cracked me. I still can’t go back to the same state when I did meditation at that time. I can’t concentrate like that time.

And I get that I sometimes broadened the boundary of meditation. What I did sometimes was pure imagining or self-hypnosis. I really had unusual crazy imagining ability when I was a kid. The imagining is undoubtedly a crucial part of meditation but I don’t know whether I was just imagining sometimes.  And maybe some of the practices I do to get deep relaxation can’t count as meditation. That could be self-hypnosis.

One part I adapt when I do the meditating is the “gold Sun” part. Here in Wuhan, the last thing we like to think of is the Sun now (excerpt in the freezing winter.) The climate is extreme in Wuhan (That’s why the locals here are testy and cantankerous.) So I change the “gold Sun” part to “silver Moon”, which can calm the soul in this extremely sweltering summer of Wuhan. And that let me feel cool. Maybe you could adapt a little bit in the instruction when the audience is different, considering the region and climate. It’s like ‘the localization of the meditation lesson.” what do you think? ( ^ _ ^ )

Language/Slang

I never heard “put down” to refer a gay. There is no equivalence for it. But due to the movie Brokeback Mountain of Ann Lee, the first Chinese who won an Oscar for the Best Director”, the movie’s name is now slang. We say some is 断背山( Brokeback  Mountain ), if he is gay. So does 断背客 ( Brokeback Mountain boy ).  And there are less and less people use 同志 (comrade), as many people refer gay now.

We say “go to Chairman Mao,” or “go to Marx,” which means, “to die,” resembling  “to be with the angels.” We also say, “go to Heaven.”

Pig is also an offensive word in Chinese. It’s very rude to say someone is a pig, which means someone is stupid.

He is a 草包 (literally straw bag) means he is an idiot.  鸡婆 (hen) means someone is a gossip.

白眼狼 (literally a white-eye wolf) refer to an ingrate, treacherous and ruthless person.

We have a name for Michael Jordan –飞人 (flying man). head trip

Contemporary Chinese seems also not have many words to show love, just two verbs which equal to “love” and “like.” Other than that we simply add adverb to show the depth.  But ancient Chinese seems have many words for love. In comparison, I think English is more descriptive. There are many words are untranslatable to Chinese.

I do speak a dialect. Except for Beijing (Mandarin is the dialect of Beijing enacted at the founding of PRC) and few areas in Northeast China, every part of China has their local dialect. Funny that in China one’s dialect may be even a total “foreign language” for people from other places. In my dorm, my other three roommates are also from the same province, but if we speck dialect, no one will understand each other!

I find I don’t have much problem understanding the accents of people from different states in US. Is that because there are few dialects in US?  Everyone seems speak perfectly English in US except the immigrants who have strong accents. I also had some problem understanding my New Zealand teacher’s English. I do love American programs. DVDs of Discovery and are available in China and it’s one of my favorites.

Media and Music

I am a typical huge fan of Hollywood movies. Also American TV programs are quite intriguing. No question Friends is my favorite. Lost is too long and I don’t like the roundabout and get lost in the writer’s Byzantine layout. Kyle XY is very touching and Grey’s Anatomy is very heartfelt, and they make me know more and think more about life. No offense to Chinese movies or TV, but they are only garbage to me. I seldom watch Chinese programs since middle school. I either switched to the movie channel or turned off the TV to read.

Piano is my favorite. I prefer light music. I listen to New Age, meditation music or other light music very night before sleep and do a little meditation. I am a big fan of Mozart, collecting every CD of his music I can find. Maybe addicted to Mozart Effect, I just never get tired of Mozart. My roommates get crazy when I play the same CD over and over again( ^ _ ^ ). Of course like other peers I also like Pop, but nearly all Rock and Roll is just noise to me (some is good though.) Westlife is my favorite. Every one of their albums is a classic.

What I heard most about [in Tibet] is the riot, which is absolutely appalling. One who is in China knows a simple fact that we never get the real truth from the press. Anything involved with politics is abominably ugly. The press is the organ of the CPC. They control the TV, radio, even the Internet. Anything you see from the TV, and anything you hear from the radio about the riot, undoubtedly is like from the same voice–CPC. And of course few Chinese online forums about this matter against the CPC can be found. Most are deleted or blocked. So anyone who doesn’t know English might only know “the fact’ from the government. What they say is the Dalai Lama who is a “splittist”, and his clique instigated the riot and he continues to call on separate Tibet from China. After I heard the riot, I wanted to know more and found a video in Hong Kong Phoenix TV and I couldn’t bear to finish it. Sure lots of innocent people were hurt, with shocking death and injury. Most news is about the rebellious locals initiated the riot and inhumanly hurt non-Tibetan there, with arson, robbery.

God! They must have totally blocked the news. Never have we heard such shocking news. That is brutal! This is gonna be uglier. Of course I am always incredulous about anything they say. Like I said, they always want total control.

Except for forwarding to friends the “Mental Feng Shui” and the “interesting test”, with which I think it’s OK to be shared, all my email correspondence is quite private. And this my private email box, which I have used for years, and I haven’t shared it with others. Although the frequent annoying trouble with logging in, I suppose it’s safe. I understand the situation. Here if my thoughts go public, God knows what they will do to me. There is no absolute liberty of speech.

[GK: Are there Internet sites you can’t access?] Many.  The Internet connection is not good. But I think there is some government intervention. For example my school is using the educational server for the universities in Central China, I can’t access the Wikipedia site.

“Reactionary and immoral publication and propaganda material, indecent publication and audiovisual products are forbidden.” (One thing I can guarantee is that if anything contents something like anti-socialism, anti-CPC…  you sure won’t get it.)  But the truth is, whether you can get you package completely depends on your luck, no matter what you send. Many people complain they don’t get their mail. I heard that the people who check the packages and other post staff may “keep” our packages that are attractive to them. I didn’t know weather it is true until I can’t get the first package you sent to me.  They check everything! (One guy says they even opened the chocolates in his package.) One side of the bag was opened and sealed in a slapdash way. They broke the CD case! Thank god the CD is intact. One word—corruption!!

Generation Gap

There are many BBS so people can join the online forum they are interested in.”  There are chat groups about every topic. Everything that you can think of may be a theme of a group. Everyone can create a group about a certain topic. Others who are attracted will ask the host of the group to let them join in. Groups about hobbies, fashion, sports, IT, sciences, art….. There are also many groups about movie stars founded by their fans. The Internet is a free world. Anyone can talk anything they like. I don’t think people mostly talk about other students, teachers, or exams. About global issues, the most frequent used mentioned word would be “Bush and Iraq War,” “North Korea nuclear issue,” “Hilary Clinton” etc. I found mostly it is about politics.

One typical example shows the pop culture is not understood by the elder, is that they don’t like the pop music of Jay Chao that most young people are crazy about. Jay Chao is a pop singer in Taiwan. His pop music can really considered as a phenomenon. Probably, no one among the young people would say he doesn’t know who Jay Chao is. But the elderly may say they cannot understand a word of his songs. Chao doesn’t sing the lyrics clearly. No one would say they can totally understand what he sings without seeing the lyrics. And a lot of rap music is absolutely not the elder’s type. (I am not quite into his music, only like some of his songs.) And I’m sure not many elderly like Rock and Roll that the young like.

My mom doesn’t think her generation is rebellious. I agree. My mom is very conventional. Perhaps that’s the reason of our generation gap. More or less, there is some gap. There are many things we can’t make same agreement. (I’d say there are few people think in the way I do, not even my peers. I think differently. Even my peers think I am strange.)   Our values seem to have some diversity. It’s the thought that makes different. (But the truth is mom knows I’m always an unusual person. We understand each other and she supports me, respects my ideas.) In front of her I compromise so much because I love her so much.

There is also a rebellious generation in China. Generation gap is always a topic, especially as China undergoes a fast development. People born in 1980s seem to be very different from people born before China’s opening up and reform. I don’t understand my grandpa’s favorite Beijing opera, neither does my mom. Nor do my grandparents understand the pop music. Parents and children more or less have generation gap, too. Some of my classmates’ bizarre hairstyle and weird dress are their parents’ headache. Some may dye their hair with unusual loud color. This gap still widens. Personally, I think the most remarkable reason is parents’ high expectation of their children. As I mentioned about China’s education system, the parents concentrate too much on their children’s marks of the exams and may pay little attention to the children’s inner world. Also young people like follow pop culture that the elder may not understand. The generation gap seems tacit. It’s common.  My mom and I also have generation gap, but it doesn’t matter. (I believe love can fill up the gap.)

Everyone in my class has a QQ number. (QQ is a copy of MSN, Instant Message chatting software) We have a group of our class.  Almost all the young people do on-line chatting. Even my ten-year old cousin does. We do chat groups to exchange ideas on common interest. And there are may BBS people can join the online forum they like.

Friends

My best friend is Kui Wang, nick name Z. We know each other since primary school. All the ups and downs in my life he’s been there for me. I once had I a difficult time and I questioned myself. Z let me find myself and believe in myself. I really appreciate that. And that really made him an irreplaceable best friend of mine.  [GK: Is there a problem about more single males than females because of the one-child policy? Do you notice that among classmates?]

Personally, I don’t see such problem around me. On the contrary, as a matter of fact, I always find there are more females around me. Ever since primary school, there have been more females than males in the school. I only hear girls worried about finding a boyfriend.

[GK: Do university students go out as a group or do some students pair up

and go on dates as a couple?]

Mostly in couples if one has a girlfriend/boyfriend. Often you can see friends go out as a group.

GK: What’s the attitude about premarital sex?

I feel that our generation is quite open about this comparatively. I know my male classmates don’t care about virginity. Girls, as I know, if think they find the right person, they wouldn’t care that much.  But some insist keep their virginity until they find the one, which includes me. About premarital sex, I happened to read an article “Love, Caution” in China Daily 21 st Century Today, which talks about premarital sex among young Chinese people. Here is some data:

Percentage of people who had premarital sex, by age group.

18~21            15%

21~24           39%

24~27         58.7%

27~29            73%

Source―RENMIN UNIVERSITY 2006

Although people are trending to be more open, there are still people who hold a traditional view of premarital sex. They somehow regard sex as an item after marriage.  Some think virginity is holy, should save to the people that they love. I am one of those people. But not necessarily after marriage, for me sex has nothing to do with marriage, if I find the person I really love, I will follow where love leads me.

Want in a Wife

Benevolence is the most important quality that I expect of her. I hope she is a caring and understanding wife. And she is a confidant of mine that I can share everything with. Virtually, my mom never had a marriage, at least a successful one. My father betrayed the family before I even knew him. I grow up with my mom. Now I even have a fear of marriage. I know I will be a committed husband at the first place. And I will not get married until I find someone knows the commitments of a family.

Role of Women

When I first heard Riot Girl, Punk Girl, and Gal’s Power, I thought they must have been rock n’roll bands. They are leaded by young women, who are influenced by Riot Grrrl. They love punk, and are proponents of the feminist movement. Feminism is their supreme goal.  About Riot Grrrl, Punk Girl, and Gal’s Power are leaded by young women who are influenced by Riot Grrrl. These Chinese young women love punk, and are proponents of the feminist movement. Feminism is their supreme goal.   Riot Grrrl apparently was very influential. Because the carrier of their ideology is music, which is timeless and universal, without boundary. Obviously those Chinese women named their after Riot Grrrl.     “Chinese woman hold up half the sky” comes from Mao, but the leading star of the feminism movements was his wife Jiang Qin, a very ambitious woman.  She caused a stir in China, a main character of the Cultural Revolution. After the Revolution the feminism movements still went on and were very effective.  Some say all Chinese women should thank her.

I didn’t mean Jiang Qin started an organization. She was a remarkable feminist. The Culture Revolution is an eternal scar in Chinese history.  Most books seem avoid this sensitive topic. When in secondary school, the history books minimize content of it and the teacher didn’t say much. So I sought books about it. As what I read she was a feminist, undoubtedly. As the most powerful woman at her time, she was too ambitious in that she wanted to replace Mao. Some say she wanted to be a “female emperor” in China. For her political position’s sake, she tried her best to improve women’s status and spread the idea of gender equality in public. It seemed that she was an influential activist. She was once a famous actress before that. Although she failed for her totalitarianism, she immensely wakened Chinese women’s yearning for an equal, better world. She let the concept of gender equality get deeply rooted in Chinese women’s hearts. Chinese women’s awareness of their role in the society and their equal rights is a crucial reason why they can get their expected respect now.

Jiang Qing or Chiang Ch’ing, 1914–1991, Chinese Communist political leader, wife of Mao Zedong. Born Li Yun-ho, she changed her name to Lan Ping in 1938 when beginning an acting career, joining the Communist party the same year. In 1939, she married Mao Zedong and thereafter remained in the background of Chinese Communist affairs until the outbreak of the  Cultural Revolution (1966–76). Appointed deputy director (1966) of the Cultural Revolution, she incited radical youths against senior party and government officials, and replaced nearly all earlier works of art with revolutionary Maoist works. A member of the politburo (1969–76), she was one of the most powerful political figures during Mao’s last years. For her role in the Cultural Revolution she was arrested (Oct., 1976) by Hua Guofeng, Mao’s successor, and sentenced to die.      (from Encyclopedia )    She committed suicide

All the books I read that mentioned about her were almost with disfavor or even with distain. Obviously she was loathed by the whole nation and even now not many would say good about her. I never judge people and I never have the right to. But she was a person that put the whole nation in the abyss of suffering. She wanted to control everything. She used people’s belief in Mao. There is only one word I can think about that time—CRAZY. I said people believed benevolence was a virtue, but I still cannot understand the unconceivable actions in the Culture Revolution. Due to her personalized, arbitrary politics, the revolution was betrayed, was twisted; a great people were taken for granted like a herd of tame sheep; a nation was diverted from economic development to the vain rituals of court politics. If you want know more about her, I recommend the book Madame Mao: the White-Boned Demon, written by American scholar Ross Terrill. The Chinese version was published in China. I remember it is a very old book. Objectively, some feminist sympathized with her because she published the idea of gender equality.

I know in history how Chinese women’s status used to be. Before the founding of PRC (People’s Republic of China), Women and man were totally different in social status.  But nowadays I hardly hear anything about feminism movement.  Sex discrimination is not obvious.  Women in China have the same social status with men by law. As the law enables woman enjoy equal rights with man in all aspects of political, economic, culture, social and family life, they have the equal rights (Personal Property Rights) to share and possesses property and land, their status is increasing steadily. It seems that the “Chinese woman hold up half the sky” feminism movements in my grandma’s time are effective. Comparatively Chinese women’s social status is very high now.  I’m surprised when I see some old movies, woman were treated inconceivably irrespected.

However, at the rural areas where people are not well educated, women are still not treated equally. They even don’t have the sense of equality and consider themselves as the husband’s property.  That’s why there are many organizations fighting for them.  Besides All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF), Women and Children Work Committee of the State Council, there is also National Committee of Female Workers, China YWCA, China Female Entrepreneurs Association, Geological Society of China Female Workers Committee, Chinese Female Scientist Association, etc.  I also heard of some unofficial feminism organizations like Riot Girl, Punk Girl, and Gal’s Power.

But the thing is not about law or any organization. It’s about mind, about perception. The feudal ideas die hard. Some of women don’t know they are treated unequally, they think it’s natural as the way it is. They follow the feudal moral principles. They think they are property of their husband and the family, their duty is to serve the whole family.

Gender equality will be mentioned when we talk about finding a job. Despite of the law enables women have the same opportunity as man, under the same circumstance, the job interviewer may prefer to hire a male candidate.  Even some female are in favor of male.  If a woman give a birth to a girl, her status at the family may be not the same as before any more, because many mothers-in-law want male heirs. At this point, women even have sexism themselves.

One woman appeared at Forbes magazine ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” as the top 2.  As the highest-ranking female member of China’s Politburo, a vice premier, State Councilor, director of the Women and Children Work Committee of the State Council, and minister of health, Wu Yi is the most powerful woman in China. She really makes Chinese woman proud. More and more women appear in political affairs. More and more women make effort.

Environment

In my opinion, after different policies that have been carried out, the next step, the crucial part is changing people’s view about having a child in a family. The shift of the values will play a tremendous role in the population control.

China has been taking measures about the overpopulation for many years. Most parts of China see the effect of the strict control of population and the Family Plan which urging one child one family. So far as I am concerned, the majority urban families only have one child now.

About cars, as I know most Chinese can not afford to have one, yet those who can are trying their best to get one. Some car manufacturers are trying to produce cars that people can afford. Chery recently presents a series of cars pricing RMB 26,900~45,800, which surprises many. Chery Automobile Co. not Chevy. Interesting that I heard the news that recently General Motors is going to accuse Chery for its resemblance in the name to Chevy, surely surprised us with its low price cars. Cars in China are very expensive, usually pricing more than RMB 100,000. Chery’s low price strategy has already seen a big success that last year it accomplished a sales volume of 305,200, an increase of 62% over the same period of the previous year, and had a share of 7.2% of the Chinese car market, ranking 4th in the Chinese passenger car industry. Chery has already become a famous national brand in China. We discussed about it once in my International Business class. Now many of my teachers are talking about buying a Chery. Compared with prices of Chinese-foreign jointly funded brands and overseas brands, Chery is apparently a big temptation.

[China is the world’s largest producer of the greenhouse gases and the world’s second-largest consumer of energy after the US.]

Environment Protection is being discussed everywhere in China. Even in tests we are asked about the problem, and what should be done. Also it is a question asked for long. I remember from primary school we have been learning texts and asked to write essays about environmental protection.

I can even sense the greenhouse house emission.  It’s said that as a developing country, China’s per capital energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission are both much lower than the world average at present, and it will remain so till to the end of this century. But I doubt it. Nevertheless, I know China has been taking effort to change the situation for long. Mindful of its responsibility to protect the global climate, China follows the principle of attaching equal importance to economization on energy and expansion of the energy industry, striving to raise its energy utilization efficiency and to readjust its energy structure. While developing nuclear power, China spares no effort to develop hydro-power and to promote research on and exploitation of geothermal power, solar energy, wind energy, marine energy and other new energy source so as to reduce greenhouse emission.

I hate the air quality here. Even in the suburb area you cannot get rid of the annoying air problem. There is dust everywhere. What disappoints most is the trees are even covered with dust. China is a country with coal as its main energy source. As a result, air pollution is serious in cities where industrial activities and population concentrate. Acid rain is another headache, which has occurred and the situation is worsening in some regions and cities. The Chinese has adopted measures to encourage the development of clean coal technology and clean-combustion technology to control it.

[At home during power outages] There is water stored in very large buckets in toilets. But we don’t have outhouses. Only the refectories and stores have generators.

Economic System

China is still a socialist country, not really encouraging capitalism. The government claims they develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, China’s own socialism. Although they are using some capitalism means of managing economics, but that’s just superficial, they won’t change the foundation of socialism. Like they encourage free market, but this “free” is certainly under the governmental intervention. Like the joint-stock reform, the government is always the key and largest shareholder. In the key areas of economics, they always hold over 50% of the share. So they still are at the controls. In one word, the government is not encouraging capitalism, they just adopt some means.

As far as I am concerned, all those problems are what China is facing during the developing. China is still taking effort. But the task is not easy.  Maoism is always there. And as China’s developing, the policies vary accordingly. Although the socialist market is under the way, free market is encouraged; certainly intervention is also there.  Everything is being tried to promote China’s economy as long as the foundation of socialism is not changed.

The expression “Little Emperors” are commonly seen in our writings, especially in primary school. We refer it to the coddled children.

China ‘s economic system is socialist market economic system, with the public ownership as the mainstay and multi-types of sectors developing side by side. The government says all kinds of components are encouraged as long as it can animate the national economy and accelerate economic growth. They certainly encourage capitalism, but under the condition that the public ownership dominates the national economy, so that the CP [Communist Party] maintains the control. The government keeps state-owned economy dominant in the national economic lifeline of the important industries and key areas. The government is still further enhancing the control of state-owned economy. The truth is that the CP is controlling every field.

People are purchasing estate in cities or suburbs like crazy now. They throw their money to the estate agencies. The price is still increasing now. My aunt wants to buy a house in Wuhan, but the price is too high. However, the government will control the situation when it goes too far.

Health Care

As to medical system, many poor people die because they cannot afford the cost of needed medical care. Medicine for even a common cold can cost much. Yet poor workers and farmers don’t get health care. Some will say some people have got health care. But its funny people who can afford have got it while the most deserving people have not. One of classmates went to the countryside last summer. She told me that the rural cooperative medical system is being built.  If the villagers pay RMB 10 to the cooperative medical system every year, then if they get some serious disease, they can get 30% of their bill from the system. And the children don’t have to pay tuition fees to school now.

I know my problem. It is because of stress that I got gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer. I got it in high school, which is unusual at my age. I went to the hospitals, spent a lot of money, no signal of getting better. The charge is too high. I don’t want let my mom get burden so I gave it up. One single examination will cost more than RMB 300, one bottle of medicine (dose only for a week or two) costs about RMB 200. First gastroscopy, they told me I got a polyp in my stomach, but they said they were not sure whether it was a tumor, and told me I should go to a big hospital. Unexpectedly, the big hospital said they could not judge whether it was a tumor, too, I had to do another one. I was also asked to do an enteroscopy. I did, they could find nothing. Three months later, I did another gastroscopy, they said the polyp was smaller yet they still didn’t say it was not a tumor. Again, at the ultrasonic echo gastroscopy that charged RMB 800, they were supposed to cut the polyp when they thought it was not a tumor, but they did nothing. I couldn’t bear this any more. It’s unaffordable and every gastroscopy is unbelievably intolerable physically and emotionally.

After tried many kinds of cheap medicine in the hospital of my university, I gave up trying. It was when I read a book about aloe vera saying it can help cure ulcer that I began to try it. I bought some aloe at the flower market and ate it everyday. It worked! I didn’t feel such pain as usual. But there is side effect, it’s toxic. I can’t eat too much. Now I also use yogurt. I’m actually taking risk, I am supposed to get another gastroscopy, as the polyp may still be there, I can feel it when I get a stomach sometimes. But the hospital can’t help anyway, they are irresponsible. They don’t care you. Money is their concern. As I said, those who need the health care most cannot get it. I’m one of them. Many elderly and senior when find they got cancer commit suicide as they can’t afford the medication, especially at rural areas.

I have read loads of books about health, how to keep fit, how to relax and handle the stress, hypnotherapy, etc. I thought I might be a specialist on health one day myself, ha ( ^ _ ^ ). I know a lot theories, I know where my problem is.

But when I’m busy I forget everything. I can predict I may be a workaholic, working too hard, ignoring everything, which will kill me eventually. That is a tremendous fear. So I think I should be a scholar, academician, professor or teacher, just do the research, just keep studying. That may be good for me. I don’t think I am suitable to be a businessman. Stress will kill me. Actually my grandparents are both doctors, and I have an aunt also a doctor. I lived with my grandparents for years when I was a kid. When I started to learn to read and write, the books I could found were all about medicine. My grandparents had many books and periodicals about medicine. So I certainly got influenced and interested in medicine. They all expected me to be a doctor. But I could not bear the nightmare that a doctor’s slight carelessness may take away a patient’s life. If I hurt someone I will feel guilty all my life. I might be a psychologist but never a surgeon, I told them.

The Elderly

The elderly, by law, should be unconditionally taken care of by their families. Everyone has the obligation to take care of his or her old parents. So whether the rural senior citizens live a good life depend on their children. But some people don’t treat their elderly parents well. (Or realistically, many people even cannot treat themselves well in the rural areas. I heard that extreme poor people can get some allowance for their basic living, but RMB 100~200 is far more than enough, I suppose.) I asked some of my classmates from the rural areas, they said if the elderly don’t have children to them, the government will allot some allowance, but the local village government keeps part of it, the money the elderly finally get is very limited. So the truth is many of the frail elderly in the rural areas are living a miserable life. That’s why I hope the adults take more care of the old.

Home is always sweet. East or west, home is best. Being my home is being with my mom. Only one day I begin to miss her so badly. I told my mom about you. She was very glad I can be of some help. Mom is always proud of me, and I am always proud I have such a great mother.   My grandpa’s nephrolith (I guess it’s Kidney Stones in English)  went worse and had an operation. We went to the hospital to take care of him. The whole holiday is almost spent in the hospital. Relatives and friends paid a visit a lot. Grandpa was never alone in the room. The ward was full of joy rather than depression.  When everyone was there grandma started to tell the stories that she has repeated for countless times.  But we all listened carefully like it was the first time.  And this time she recalled some stories that I had not known. Like a family get-together, although it was in the ward. Felt as if it had been the New Year Eve, we shared the fruits from the fruit basket some visitors brought and all kinds of snacks. We chatted.  The warmth was in the air and the room was full of laughter. Grandpa recovered very soon and now he is at home.  It was a wonderful holiday.

My grandparents (my mom’s parents) live with my uncle. My grandparents have 5 children, my mom as the eldest, my three aunts, and my uncle the youngest. Although my grandparents live with my uncle, my mom and my other aunts also take care of them. In China, almost all the elderly live with their sons, as after daughters get married, they move to the husband’s home. But daughters also look after their parents though they don’t live with them.

Government

I am neutral about the Chinese government. I look at it objectively. As a new generation, I witness the development of China. I marvel at the progress that China has made in such short time. But I am also disappointed at the government with many aspects. Anyway how could it manage to manage so many things?

Tibet is always a mysterious place. Things seem to be sensitive and controversial when come across to this place. But I hardly hear any real discussion about this among my peers. It seemed that no one question things about this.  Because in their mind Tibet is no doubt a part of China no matter in the past or present. They are taught so and told so. (Well, I am always a different thinker. I won’t totally believe what the Chinese government and media say. ) Somehow I guess there may be things covered or sugar coated by the government and the media. But I don’t know which version is true. The truth is vague that makes Tibet more mysterious for me. Officially it’s an autonomous region.

As what I read before, the Wei Dynasty (1279-1368) in the 13th century brought the divided Tibet under the unified rule of the central government, and then it became a part of China. The question is that, during the founding of the People’s Republic of China, whether it’s Chinese troops and communist party that saved the Tibetan people out of their ancient and cruel serfdom or Chinese troops and communist party invaded their holy land around 1950s and forced them to subjugate with violent means? Only the Tibetan people know the truth. So far as I know, there is nothing like devastating the culture. The Chinese government’s policies are favorable to the minority ethnic groups. They have many privileges at many places. Ethnic culture diversity also encouraged. All ethnics groups have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own customs.

The survey I mentioned last time was conducted by East China Normal University. The result of the survey appeared on many newspaper, including China Daily. The figure is three times than that the government estimated. Most Muslim in China are ethnic minorities. In the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, majorities are Hui and most of them are Muslim. I have a teacher who is Hui. She told me that all her family members are Muslim. It’s like she was born in a Muslim area.  No certain figure shows that there is really how many Muslim in China.

The polices and theories are compulsory subjects. They are everything about the CP theories, not only Marxism, Leninism, but also Maoism, Deng Xiaoping Theory, Three Representatives, and everything about their policies. They write their thoughts into books and tell you how right they are. Every time a leader comes up with a guiding ideology, they will make it a subject. In the exams they will show what they did recently, and ask you to point out what kind of theories direct them. It’s very ridiculous.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip of Brazil. I was shocked by the favela story. I know there are gangs everywhere, but the Brazilian gangs obviously have gone too far. How could the government just simply ignore such chaos?  I’m sure there are also gangs in China, but only few are drug dealers I suppose. Once I went to a small restaurant nearby. The owner said there is some gang there and she has to pay money to them every time they come so as not to get trouble. They told her she pays money so that they will cover her (offer her safety).

“Three Representatives” is the theory of the former chairman Jiang Zemin—the Communist Party of China must always represent the development trend of China’s advanced productive forces, the orientation of China’s advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people.

The current theory: The new chairman Hu Jintao came up with his new theory “Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces”, which shows socialist’s concept of honor and disgrace. It’s kind of communist ethics:

Honor to those who love the motherland, and shame on those who do harm to her;

Honor to those who serve the people, and shame on those who are divorced from them;

Honor to those who quest for science, and shame on those who prefer to be ignorant;

Honor to those who are hard working, and shame on those who detest having to work

Honor to those who unite and help people, and shame on those who gain at the expense of others

Honor to those who are honest and trustworthy, and shame on those who forsake good for the sake of gold;

Honor to those who are disciplined and law-abiding, and shame on those who violate laws and disciplines

Honor to those who uphold hard struggle, and shame on those who indulge in a dissipated life.

About sending the intelligentsias to the countryside, I don’t agree that the poor are good and the educated are bad. In my impression, I don’t think it’s my preconception, that benevolence is a very common virtue, like a belief. So sending the intelligentsias to learn the goodness from the peasants is obviously not a good excuse.   The intelligentsias at that time never stop complaining about sending them to the countryside. They call it deception. Most of them were not willing to go to the countryside, where they couldn’t make something of themselves. They call it a waste time of their life. I can imagine what a tough time they went through.   The articles I read written by the intelligentsias back then are all like “mourning for their gone tragic youth”. “In memory of our youth” appeared commonly.   I heard many stories from the elderly when I was a kid.

Due to the Culture Revolution, the universities didn’t give admission, so the graduate could not get employment. They thought knowledge was useless at that period. It’s so ridiculous that such twisted notion could be conceivable then.  Mao urged the intelligentsias to go to the rural areas was mainly because of the severe employment problem. According to biography of Mao Zhedong, Mao wanted to send the intelligentsias away to the countryside resulted from their Culture Revolution protests. It sounds like he wanted to “kick them out of the cities.” And many advocated because of their fervent belief in Mao. Others just couldn’t resist the trend.

We have compulsory military training at the first year of college. We had that for 22 days. Two weeks is the minimum. We have to get at least two week military.  Different universities take it differently. Many middle schools and high schools also adopt military training. I experienced three times. The purpose is to discipline us. They hope to enhance our awareness of national defense and collectivity, let us feel the spirits of soldiers, and cultivate patriotism. I doubt standing under the burning sun for hours and hours and following the commands like “attention”, ”right face” and “left face” can really strengthen our willpower and perseverance. “Military is military” can just not justify the inhumane elements in the military training. I saw more than three cases of students’ sudden death in newspaper because they have heart troubles. They modified the policy after the appalling news of course. But what’s the use of that?

You can find everything we do in the training in this video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ettgo4mLnzY

And you can see the result:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtydWCmVg90&feature=relatedbout the scandals

Speaking of sandal, I did read some astonishing ones on paper recently. The Finance Minister, Jin Renqing, has been forced to step down after having an affair with the mistress of another senior Communist Party official last month. Last year The Communist Party chief of Shanghai was fired in Pension Scandal and thirteen officials have been expelled from the Party. Now this year, Ling Baoheng, who was charged with taking bribes totaling 500,000 Wei (US$65,789) when he served as deputy director of the Shanghai Economic Committee, vice president of Shanghai Light Industry Holding Company (Group), and director of the Shanghai Municipal State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

Most common scandals I heard were about some TV programs. Like Super Girls, a household name in China (actually it’s copy American Idol), recently one singer exposed that the result was unexpected was because the voting company got bribes and manipulated the voting. She said, “If you want to win, you family have to be rich.”   Even some competition like the 10th National Games, three judges took bribes and they now have a lifetime ban on judging.

People can travel at will if they have money, whether go abroad of within the country.

About the Cultural Revolution, intelligentsia was not valued at that time, because Mao thought they are detached and distant from the workers, peasants and soldiers. People had unbelievable passion of building the new China, but they ignored the objective laws of nature, they only believed faith will move mountains. They thought they could build a better world without knowledge. The most specific story I read about Jiang Qing’s suicide: (She was sentenced to death, later changed to life imprisonment.)  In prison, she once tried to kill herself by taking 50 sleeping pills after her requirement of a family get-together was refused in 1988. The next year she was diagnosed with throat cancer and taken out for medication. She refused operation; on May 14th, 1991, she committed suicide by hanging herself.

Olympics certainly urge China to improve its human rights. In 1993, China bid for the host city of 2000 Olympics Games, China lost the chance just for 2 votes. That was mainly because of the problem of human rights. When bid for the 2008 Olympics Games, China didn’t avoid this issue. The government admitted its problem and promised change the situation of its human rights in seven years before 2008. China promised it would present the world a good Olympics Games with the theme “Humanistic Olympics.” In 2004, for the first time the concept of human rights was into introduced into the Constitution. The government says being the host country 0f 2008 Olympic Games, China will take measures under the supervising of the whole world.  The government claimed that the preparation of Beijing Olympics promotes the development of China’s human rights, as the Beijing Olympics emblem, mascot and slogan, and other selections including the design of the Olympic venues are widely solicited the views of the public. Other things like they will some survey twice per year (never know what kind of survey though). But I really can’t say I sense any remarkable improvement.

Objectively, to be competent as a host country of Olympics, the government did take some measures. Last year, the trains all over the country increased speed, the quantity and the quality of roads increased. On the whole, transportation has improved. China is still updating the communication facilities for Olympics, like the facilities for 3G technology is still being built. And of course, the environment is a mainly concern. The government has shut down small-sized enterprise which were unqualified for certain standards and as they were harmful for the environment. They also encourage eco-friendly fuel, control the sum of private vehicles, and encourage people to use mass transportation and use bicycles.

Religion

Students can learn about deity from parents if their parents are theists. Parents’ beliefs are very influential at this point, I suppose.   My mom is a theist, so I got influenced. But my mom believes Buddhism, whereas I am a Christian.  I believe in God since I was a child because tons of books about western world I read.   Buddhism has a tremendously deep root in China.  I reckon that there are more people believe Buddhism than any other religions among the theists.   As for Taoism, it’s like a story to us. However, I seldom hear of my classmates talking about their religious beliefs. I feel that most of my peers are atheists.   I did have a fervent Christian classmate in high school though. She disciplines herself strictly by the Bible. She carries Bible everywhere with her and goes to church regularly.  She is from rural area. She told me there are more and more Catholic churches in the rural areas and many Christians give sermons there. It’s said that within 20 years, there will be 500~600 million Christians in China.  There was a survey about religions weeks ago. My class was closed to answer the questionnaire.  I hear that the result suggests there are approximate 300 million people who are theists in China now.

Sharon Stone’s comment about the 2008 earthquake being karma for mistreatment of Tibet was totally ludicrous. Just because there was Hitler and his Nazi government, doesn’t mean we should regard all Germans as fascists and put all Germans in the Auschwitz concentration camp and execute them. If we had done that after World War II, what would be the difference between us and Nazi?  Has she ever thought of the innocent people there?  So many innocent people died and that was “karma?” Dose she mean the 69010 innocent people deserve to die for the government’s fault? She has no respect for life. This is the most tragic thing in this world, the gulf between human beings, not the catastrophes. That’s the ultimate reason of wars and other tragedies we have made ourselves. Till now most Chinese still think Japanese are all monstrous after the brutal Japanese Aggression and WW II. What do the innocent ordinary people have to do with their government’s sins?

Elderly

At present, China’s aged (60 or older) account for 11% of the total population, this shows that China has entered the aging society.  The elderly largely rely on the pension insurance. Yet the pension insurance coverage is only about 15% and most migrant peasant workers are not considered. Like in Chongqing Province, pension coverage of migrant peasant workers is less than 2%.  Even Beijing’s rural pension insurance coverage is only 24.4%.  Approximately, more than 90% of the rural elderly depend on their family to take care of them by estimate. But more than 70% aged are in rural areas. I know in the city, the retiree can count on their enterprise. And most of them get medical insurance by their enterprise.  If their enterprises get bankrupt, the government helps them get pension insurance. My grandma only gets RMB 600 (about $75) monthly from her pension insurance.

Holidays

In China, no other holiday is so valued as the Spring Festival (lunar New Year).  It’s just like Christmas in the west.  The Spring Festival is from lunar New Year Eve to the Lantern Festival (15 days).

October 1st is the National Day in China, we have a 7-day holiday. I plan to go home. But I don’t know whether I can get a ticket yet. Every time I go to the train station I feel I can’t breath—–too many people there. Especially, you cannot imagine what it is like when the holidays come.

In my opinion, the revival of the traditional holidays is just one step they made in the overall plan of  “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”  By reviving tradition they want to enhance people’s notion of national identity. They hope people can be nourished by the traditional culture from the folk festivals. They want the tradition penetrates into people’s real life and their beliefs. It’s more like the wish of the strengthening of the traditional values. In one way or another, I can say that they want to influence people’s ideology.

There is certainly more behind this. As I can sense, in this increasingly globalized world, people’s mind go globalized. Naturally our values of folk custom and culture are changing. (There is nothing like wrong or right I think.) Apparently there is a breach in the value of the custom between the elder members in the family and the young. There are only two people besides me went home last Tomb-Sweeping Day in my class while 44 didn’t. In fact I went home simply because I missed my mom. But the elder members in my family treat this tomb-sweeping very seriously. Not once did they not go to graveyard on that day every year.

A folk festival is not complete without the special rite; otherwise it would just be a mark in the calendar. As before they were not official holidays, not much attention could be paid to the rite on the folk festivals. They were just like ordinary days. More or less we become oblivious about the traditional festivals. Now they made them official holidays, to make people free and to feel those days are different and be more aware of the cultural connotation.

During the Tomb-Sweeping Day, many people visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall to mourn the victims. The Memorial Hall will let people remember the past and cherish the precious peace. In my hometown, the primary school where I studied when I was a kid organized the children a visit to the Martyrs Mausoleum. What a great chance of cultivating their patriotism. Also lots of people paid a visit to some departed celebrities’ former domicile and their museums. There were various activities that I didn’t hear about before.

Meanwhile, more holidays spread throughout the year, will do more to promote consumption and they expect to boost the tourism sector. So besides the cultural awakening, economics-promoting is a by-product.

I am heading home for the Qingming Festival, or the Tomb-sweeping Day, a traditional Chinese holiday honoring the late [DEAD] ancestors.    Following the accident ANCIENT folklore, many Chinese believe that the spirits of deceased ancestors look after the family all the time. Sacrifices of food and Mingbi (spirit money) could keep them happy, and the family would prosper

In most places in China, when a baby is one-month old, the family will hold a banquet and invite all the relatives and friends to celebrate the child’s birth. In some places, the family will shave the baby’s hair and even the eyebrow for good luck at that day. We don’t have baptism or similar ceremony. But if the family is of ethnic minorities, they may have different way to bless the baby. Like I mentioned last time, most Hui people are Muslims, they may have a different way for blessing. In China there are 55 ethnic minorities, they have their own customs.

Here is something you can add to the baby blessing, although he is yet one-year old. In some places in China, at the first birthday of the baby, the family may let the baby play a game. We put pen, musical instruments, football, basketball, books, calculator, etc. (anything you like) before the baby, and see what the baby will pick up. They like to use this game to predicate what the baby like to do in the future. Like I remember my cousin picked up pen and calculator, so they said he may be an accountant and be good at deskwork. It’s just for fun. And my grandma took photos when my little cousin picked the items. It was a beautiful moment to remember. You can try it. Like if the baby chose a football, they may think, wow, my baby will be very healthy and good at sports, if the baby picks up a musical instrument, you can tell them they will have a talented musician in the future. So far as I known, many Chinese don’t really have any religious belief, they won’t mind how you do the blessing, because they love the baby, they feel good as long as their baby get blessing. So I think baptism can also be included.

Historic Preservation

It’s really sad that some old houses are torn down. Boos from the public never stop. The owners of the old houses complain both the willing ones and the unwilling ones: Those who live in the old dangerous houses are willing to leave, but the demolition compensation is limited, not enough to buy a new apartment; for some the old houses are like antiques passed to them from their elders, they surly unwilling to let go. The government claimed the valued heritage won’t be hurt. After Beijing won the bid for the host city, I saw the TV news that the government would spend RMB 2 billion to repair the relics and monuments. Then I did hear some movements like the Forbidden  City was closed for a while for reparation. I think the old Beijing rhyme should be preserved. Beijing’s charm is the aged part through the history not the modern part. Anyway the modernization is changing Beijing’s face. I wonder whether I still can recognize this sage who once witnessed human being’s civilization. How should I seek the clues of the memory of this old city one day I go to study its old culture is a problem.

His Future

My apprehension of the future is not about finding a job. (Actually, somehow I always believe I can get a job.) My apprehension is whether my life will be the one I dreamed about in my childhood, whether I can make my mother’s life better. As I told you I’m a very imaginative person. When I was a child I always had fantasy about the future. As I am getting to the reality closer and closer, I often have the weird feeling like what if I would let myself down, what if I couldn’t fulfill my childhood dream. And the commitment that I cannot let my mother down gives me enormous pressure. My mom never thinks about get anything from me. But I’m not a selfish person that not motivated by her unconditional after everything she has done to me. It’s just a kind of strange feeling that brothers me sometimes.  Then I remind myself I have a promising future, my worry is unnecessary.

My childhood dream is that I can take my mom travel around the world. I often asked God,” Why let me be born in the wrong continent?”  I always want to be a cosmopolitan. After graduation, I hope I can get further education in the western culture study in a foreign university. Kristof, my English teacher from Belgium, said why not go to study abroad if I want to be a cosmopolitan. He came to China to study Chinese after he gradated from law school. So I am preparing for GRE and TOEFL. Hope I can get an offer from an American university. After my study, I want to start my trip around the world. Find a job there, stay for a year or two, and then go to another country.

As I said, I want travel the world. Europe is most attractive to me since it’s the birthplace of western culture. I’m dying to experience everything I read about it.  The first place I’d like to visit is Ireland. The emerald Isle is the kind of place where I want to buy a house and spend my last days. The breathtaking green and marvelous scenery is incredible. I love nature. I love green. It seems that everything is green there.

I actually think about the possibility of being a teacher sometimes, but I must become a professor first, to be knowledgeable enough to teach someone else. I think I can make a good teacher. I will be a life-long learner. I love study. I love the unknown and I have the desire to exploit it. But not until I gain sufficient knowledge would I think about teaching. To be a teacher is not easy, to be a good teacher is even more challenging. I know what an amazing job they do. I respect every teacher.

Psychology

At Mao’s time, anyone who mentioned psyche would be considered as against Communist materialism. The stopped psychology just began to revive in recent years. The current education of psychology in China is no more than duplicating the Westerns achievement. Most psychology textbooks are just the translation of the textbooks written by US professors. I just read the original books I found because I don’t need to read other translators’ works. I would have more space of development in the field of psychology. People begin to understand psychology after the devastating earthquake in Sichun when China’s short of psychologist for the post-traumatic stress.  And the development of psychology in China need young people’s contributions.

According to Prof. Huang, who is the vice president of Association of Mental Health Education and Consultation in Hubei, relationships is the major concern of the Chinese youth currently and also what bothers them most. Youth mental health is one of Prof. Huang’s major researching fields. He is teaching me Health Psychology. During his long years of consultation work with youth, he finds most of youth who consults him worries about their relationships (generally their relationships with family, friends…).   www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/wyr07.htm

Being at the Olympics

actually wrote you an email while I was in Beijing but I didn’t send it. I was trying to calm down. Considering that I shouldn’t let the emotional surge affect my rationality, I thought it might be better to wait, until everything is over, until I have a peaceful mind again. I tried everything to be positive because I knew I may always have some bias towards CCP. I had some clash inside between my ideal and the reality. I had to reevaluate what I believed and face the truth. Growing is a painful process, in which there are unstable and immature thoughts. I wanted to tell you everything but I hesitated to express.

The schedule was too tight that I couldn’t blog (Moreover I hate Internet café. They are like smoking rooms! ). But I wrote journal whenever I got some free time. It was a wonderful journey of my soul, a journey of discovery. I don’t think such a long story can be told in just one email.

Beijing is not the cultural mecca I knew any more. The modernization has cut Beijing into a thousand-faceted diamond. It is dazzling. But I was sad I saw less of the original color behind the glow. I welcome change. However, I more like to see the historical legacy than the modern buildings. It’s disappointing that many stuff have been commercialized and lost its original flavor. Nevertheless, Beijing is ancient yet young. I am happy to see the vigorously growing city leads the developing of a country.

Seeing is believing. I have been trying to be an objective observer in Beijing. Now I am calm, with less indignation. Yet the disappointment is inevitable. I was incredulous about what the press says, both the foreign press and of course the tongue of CCP-the national press. Who is telling the truth? I found my answers there.

It was such an “honor ” to be assigned to work in the provincial government office building in Beijing. I had that precious opportunity to know the inside of the government. I know the society is complicated, but the government is more complicated than I could ever imagine. I just understood there that the essence of the feudalism still exists through thousands of years. I can’t believe it. It’s like it roots in people’s mind. All they want is domination. They want total control! They want lambs not people with their own thoughts. It’s such a pity that the bureaucracy changes people. I met all kinds of people and made a lot of good friends there. The newcomers are very nice. They are pure and “uncontaminated.” I like to get along with them. But some of the experienced officers are just hard to understand. I was afraid of them. I didn’t know which was their mask and which was their true face. I talked with some staff about how they think of the politics. It’s like tacit rules for them, if you want survive in such a society you have to adapt to it. They know the social ills perfectly yet instead of doing something to it they choose to be someone they are not. My director and I had a long talk and she told me that they don’t need independent thinkers but people who obey their control. Some of them are smart and they know what they want, and they will do anything to achieve their goal. Some just dutifully finish the job. Some are just trying to climb the social ladder rather than fulfill their self-value. I felt sick for the unnatural human relations I saw. I am proud that I had my soul intact. I remained who I am always.

I had to admit there myself that there is no human right or whatsoever sometimes. I believed there is always a choice. But I personally encountered the fact you just have no choice sometimes. There are a lot of things were covered during the Olympics. The Olympics is top of all priorities. Anything else is secondary and can be sacrificed. You must have heard the recent appalling scandal of China’s milk industry. They add chemical Melamine into milk so that the protein proportion appears to be higher. Many babies get kidney stones because of it. Now the whole national milk industry is in crisis as it turned out that all the manufacturers added Melamine into their dairy products according to the test. No one dare to drink milk bought in markets now. They certainly wouldn’t let out such scandals during the Games. One hotel owned by the provincial government is provided with students by schools as workers. The students, most are 16,17 or younger, work there in the name of “interns” as house cleaners or guards. They are deceived about the work condition. When they get there and find the truth most of they naturally like to leave, because their schools have contracts with the hotel whereas they don’t sign any contracts with either the hotel or their schools. But if they leave their school won’t let them graduate and the hotel won’t return their money paid earlier as deposit. They are really stuck in a dilemma. The nightmare is that they have to work there for one year doing things they don’t like everyday. Where are their human rights? Most of them are even minors.

There were lots of dirty things I wanted to reveal during my stay but I was too in a dilemma myself. I worked in the government and I talked to hundreds of foreign journalists everyday. What do I do? I asked myself everyday! If at that time I talked more than I should, I would shame the whole nation. But how could I just let it be pretending I saw nothing? I have been too critical with this society because I am too disappointed we lack a power of criticism. I felt so helpless when I saw people tried to “fit in” rather than change the society. Now I have totally lost my faith in CCP when they fool the people again and again.  9-15-08 I think the traditional family roles already began to sway after the New Culture Movement. The New Culture Movement in 1915, which was the basis of the May Fourth Movement, strongly scolded and devalued the Confucianism, and promoted science and democracy. It enlightened people to seek individual freedom and women’s equal rights. Lots of Western doctrines thrived at that time. Confucius’ value was trampled and labeled with “decrepit feudal doctrines” and was the focus of the criticism. The enlightenment movement shook the Confucianism, the corn foundation of the traditional value of family. But I agree that the impact of culture revolution accelerated the changes in family roles.

Did I tell you that a lot of middle school and high school students go to tutorials for the entrance exams? They either get private tutors or join a tutorial class, mostly in weekends or holidays. Students get instruction and practice in the subjects that they are not good at, so that they can get a higher mark in exams.  Teacher is a good job in China because during the winter and summer holidays they get a lot of chance to earn money. Many parents like their children to go to the tutorials instead of sitting at home. Rich parents may find private tutors to give their children individual instructions. A teacher revealed that he can earn RMB 20000~30000 from his tutorial class in a summer holiday, which is eight to ten times of his one mouth salary.

I wouldn’t be surprised by the result of the survey. However, the survey took all the samples in Nanjing, which is one of the most advanced cities second after Shanghai in Yangtze River Delta, so it would be natural that over 70% of them like to stay in Yangtze River Delta and find a job there. Unlike life in US, people here don’t have such a mobile life as Americans. Location is one of prior considerations when many Chinese students choose their colleges. We may choose a city to study there and then later it will be easier to work there. Colleges in advanced cities like Beijing and Shanghai require higher scores to control migrant waves. Clearly the governments don’t want people all go to the advanced cities. Colleges in less developed areas require low scores to encourage students to go there and promote the development there.

And based on my observation, more and more girls like to put ” a good job” before ” a good husband” in their priorities.

 

November 16, 2014. Notes on our Skype conversation from Finland:

 

Equality is the key characteristic, like don’t hold out a chair for women. You see women on the side of the road fixing their bikes and men don’t stop to help. Fins have poker faces, they don’t show expression. The always talk about being shy. In a college class, no one raises their hand unless the teacher asks a question. They don’t want attention. My Czech friend I told me nobody is trying to impress somebody. I don’t see any same sex couples holding hands People are so modest so there’s much under the tip of the iceberg that you can’t see. Everybody should be the same. Teachers don’t think one student is smart or dumb. In the high school I asked if they had any questions in a Mandarin class, not one. So you don’t show you know more or show off their talents, or show you’re rich. Should be on the same level. They don’t buy a fancy car or big house. All the houses are almost the same, not rich neighborhoods. City government owns housing company to provide student housing. It’s astonishing that so many listen to rock and calm, and they’re calm when they listen not moving their feet. Kind of creepy. A student showed us a movie called A Man Without a Past. He lost his memory when he got robbed on a train. He was calm. Soldiers listen to radio playing rock and roll. Speed ticket based on income. TV cable too. Positive discrimination. If two people complete for job, give it to the less capable because the other one can find a job elsewhere.

Finland is very Americanized. So many TV shows they know like Grey’s anatomy, America’s Next Top Model, CSI, south Park, Once Upon a Time. A Finnish girl told me she was very concerned about the US elections; a factor is they’re anti-Russian. Another thing that surprised me most was they almost all speak American English, especially the German students almost without accent. i thought in Europe they would have a British accent but even the senior generation has an American accent, probably because they always have American TV shows

For the few weeks I was here, I didn’t feel like I was in another country because most speak English. This town is so beautiful, feel like home. At 4 it’s dark. It snows all the time. People feel tired in the winter. Lapland is the best place to see the Northern Lights.. It’s a dream come true, but it’s so expensive to live here. The students are very poor. So second hand stores are common. They have goods from America like makeup. Have affinity for American culture because they grew up with it.

You can go into a master’s program without applying. You can test again till get a good score. The student union plays an important role for students. Free education is a result of student activism. Volunteer mentor. Free health care with student card. Discounts at school restaurants. 8 euros for lunch, 2. 20 with discount. No inspection or evaluation for teachers on all levels except student teachers. Highly respected profession, like doctors and lawyers in the US. Younger people proud to be a teacher, not like China where it’s a last resort. We trust them. Get teacher training when they start, senior teachers observe student or probation teacher suggestions. They believe in education and the teachers. A teacher told me there are more and more naughty students, more rebellious. I talked with a teacher who taught for 16 years, now they’re more difficult to manage. There’s no ranking of students, they don’t show the ranking list in high school. Matriculation examination, college entrance exam, but don’t worry about it. They’re more motivated than Chinese students because they’re responsible for their own studies. Have electives, minors, as long as have enough credits to 180 credits. Required to learn 2 foreign languages, learn Finish and Swedish and decide the level of the exam. The government is cutting funding for universities. Before government pay their salaries, now they get less money. High school students earn more than college universities. The economy was hurt when Nokia was bought by Microsoft.

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