Connecting Mandarin and English,
The Adventure has Started, but the Visas are
(July 5, 2008) (return
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
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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