For Payton
and Deona


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

A Tour of Nanchang
(October 19, 2008) (return to Homepage)
     Riding the 232 is as routine as driving home from WOU. The university is only the third stop from the beginning of the route which is in the "suburbs" so finding a seat is not difficult. After our stop the bus stops at several other universities and within three more stops there's only standing room and that may be limited to the door well. Out our windows we see the busstops are filled with buses as well as people. It's Saturday and that may explain the number of people and buses but the number of people continues to astound us.
     At our destination we're met by our friends Kan and Yiqi with whom we share lunch at a local restaurant. The goals of the day are vague and so we plan a casual day looking for yarn and strolling in the park. The park was around a lake and the day was warm on the verge of hot for northerns like us. Some conversations were around our ailing health and the reason for not walking too, and other conversations were around the corruption among officials in China and how difficult it is to prove anything and prosecute. My mind flashed on Senator Stevens from Alaska and how he is being questioned about his acitivities.
     There's that continuous sweet tension being the China culture that says that the host should aggressively offer food and the fact that as guests you can only eat so much. Within three hours of a huge luncd we were set before dumplings and soup. We did say no before we ate ourselves sick, but I think in this sweet struggle between the host and guests,
the guests won a couple battles but clearly lost the war.

A note about Chinese romance:
     Sometimes it is more important than others for you to realize that you are reading one person's impressions. This may be one of those times.
     College is a time when young men and women find a special friend of the opposite gender, and so we were a little surprised to see so little pairing up or couples on campus at first. Now the picture has changed. However, in the meantime we heard students talk about how if a boy and girl walk together, even if leaving or going to class, they are seen as a serious couple with a serious relationship. There are no theaters or other apparent forms of activities that young people can use to share time together as a date, so we don't know what they might do. During our walk in a park of Nanchang today we saw several couples walking and sharing time on a bench. On campus one can also see similar scenes. Apparently after several weeks of classes in the fall, students find time to become more serious.
     At English Corner on the new campus, I asked "Do you have a boy friend?" They were mostly girls and I didn't have a better opener. "No, we're only freshman." was the response heard in unison. "We have to study." And truly that is their concept; we're here to study and having a boy friend takes too much time. In part there remains a strong residue of the past that says once you've agreed to a relationship, the boy dominates the activities and sets the schedule.
     Another side of this picture are the girls that walk in pairs or trios, arm in arm or hand in hand. It is completely acceptable and expected. After reading some of the paragraphs from the students, it seems there is a security is being together and close. This behavior is American would be taken completely out of context and turned into a point of gossip and rumor. Just as a Chinese girl walking in America with a Chinese boy as perceived by another Chinese student.
     While arranged marriages still occur, it's not very common among college girls. Typically a father of a college girl has already made a decision that his daughter will become educated and advance beyond some of the antiquated traditions.

     In the evening a couple students came by the apartment to practice a speech for an English speech competition Monday evening.

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