For Payton
and Deona


Connecting Mandarin and English,
          Chinese and American,
                    people with people

The Adventure has Started, but the Visas are not Here
(July 5, 2008) (return to Homepage)

Yesterday we sat around the house discussing Tiananmen, why Chinese ignore "No Smoking" signs and the number of provinces in China. All but Gail and I were Chinese and most of the conversations were in Chinese. The eight Chinese were primarily instructors at Chinese universities. We watched as they assembled a homemade puzzle of the provinces of the China on the floor. Yazhou, the only male Chinese instructor of business looked at the book on learning the Chinese language and said that if was very difficult for a beginner. It was almost exactly how we expect to spend our time in China.
     Interesting enough we were not in China; we were at our home in Oregon. The Chinese are all instructors from universities in northern China living in Monmouth to observe classes of their particular interest and field of study. The scholars teach business, art (fashion design) and primarily English in China. One is here at Western for the summer, another for six months and the others for a year.
     I sat on the couch with Ms. Feng and discussed her classes at Western, the challenges of taking five courses, and exchanging questions and answers about each others' countries and cultures. Trivia intermingled among more serious questions about education and the ramifications of the one child per family law. The repercussions of this law baffles my imagination as I start to realize that almost none of the international students and even these scholars have brothers or sisters, which means their single child will have no siblings or aunts or uncles or cousins. Family reunions as we know them in America will be very different in the future in China.
     None of the instructors who are all instructors at universities have their PhD degree, and some are still working on their Masters even though they've taught for as much as a decade or more. One talked about her plans to study for her PhD and how they expect that in the future more and more instructors will earn their PhD degrees and universities will start favoring PhD degrees.

     Actually our Fourth of July started out to be a quiet one with a parade around noon, an afternoon in the yard and some fireworks after dark. However, at the parade we shared a bowl of ice cream with several Chinese friends, who, as it turns out, were in need of a table for their new apartment. I commented that I had several old ones in the barn and we could look at them and see what we could find and fix. So we spent the afternoon sharing stories, nurturing friendships, cleaning and painting a table and cooking some American and Chinese dishes. At dusk we headed to Independence to watch the fireworks with the largest crowd we've ever seen at this event.
     If these Chinese are any indication of the 1.3 billion still in
China, these are some of the most curious I have even met. This Fourth with our international friends was one of the best I have ever experienced.

A note about Chinese provinces:
There are 23 provinces similar to our states in China. There are also five cities who have a status similar to the provinces and there are six other areas which have a status similar to provinces but with a little different independence.
There are no straight borders on provinces unlike many western states in America. They all found the rivers, lakes, ocean or mountains.
The names appear random until one recognizes that the some names translate as north or south of the river or the lake, or east or west of the mountains, or define the location. Bei, like in Beijing, Hebei and Hubei is north. Nan is south; dong is east, and xi is west. Jing, like in Beijing, is capital and shan in Shandong is mountain.

    We expect the visas in the mail this coming week. We discovered that our agent in San Francisco didn't work this last week.

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