I apologize for my week hiatus. I have been putting together my graduate applications, which have been overly time consuming lately. But, I wanted to check in today to write about some hot topics – but not about Obama’s visit, you can read the NYT for that! (Also, Obama’s visit was as restricted as has been reported, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to anyone who happened to see him.)
1. For all the Twilight fanatics out there, New Moon is coming out tonight! If anyone happens to see it, I’ll post on the Twilight craze. Suffice it to say that the series is the most popular in China right now, so I’m sure that there will be a big turnout.
2. One of my goals of this blog is to compare the news in the media – American and Chinese – with my day to day experiences here. Interestingly, Sharon LaFraniere, one of the NYT’s China beat reporters, wrote an article on scholarships that have been awarded to the sons and daughters of Namibia’s elite political figures. While the article focuses on a global topic prevalent in news about China – its financial relationship with Africa – I feel as though Mrs. LaFraniere should have put a few more facts about scholarships for African students in the article. Because she writes about China’s larger relationship with Africa, not only with Namibia, she should have also given the figures on how many African students, who are not related to political figures, do receive scholarships.
But she did bring up a really interesting point: scholarships can be seen as a form of “cement[ing] diplomatic alliances.” At Jiaotong, the majority of international students are from Africa (this may not be the case at every university). I have met students from Sudan, Gabon, Namibia, Cameroon, Rwanda, and several other countries in Africa. And I’ve also gotten to hear a bit about the politics of being a student from Africa in this country. A friend of mine from Senegal had been studying in Taiwan until 2005, when Senegal decided to switch its diplomatic relationship to China, whose government does not recognize countries in alliance with Taiwan. Subsequently, my friend’s scholarship was terminated and he had to apply for a scholarship in Beijing.
Of course, the overwhelming amount of African students on scholarship does point to China’s diplomatic interests, but does it necessarily point to corruption? In the case of Namibia, yes. But after reading the article, Iwas left wondering whether or not all scholarship agreements imply bribery and corruption on China’s part. Thoughts on this?
3. I find the juxtaposition of Mao and World War II documentaries on CCTV quite interesting. Just an hour ago, both were airing on different channels. The Mao documentary featured recreated scenes, with Mao portrayed as a commander-in-chief with a chip on his shoulder. The WWII doc, on the other hand, used primary souces, such as video clips and photos (quite graphic, I should say) of Holocaust victims and proud European and American soldiers. As China was on the side of the Allies for this war, of course it makes sense that they would be glorified. What’s strange, though, was the documentary’s rendering of Hitler as the insane murderer that we, in the States, are used to seeing. Mao, on the other hand, was depicted as a calmer figure. Instead of seeing this as typical, I think it’s more useful to look at these two documentary forms and ask how our pereceptions of the world’s leaders have been formed. Does the style of documentary affect our views? And what do you respond to more, recreated scenes, real footage?
4. If you want to sound cool, here are some words in Chinese that you can nonchalantly insert into conversation:
Jewish person: You tai ren (yoh-ty-ren)
Summer camp: Xia ling ying (shee-ah-ling-ying)
I love you: Wo ai ni! (wo-ay-nee)
Any other requests?
5. I went to Beijing University – China’s premiere university – with Isabel last week. It was snowing (silver iodide induced (?)), so it was a really picturesque scene. We stopped off at the building where the Chinese literature department is housed and took some pictures over there. The school has maintained many of its older buildings, which makes you feel like you’re walking around the same institution students did a hundred years ago (minus the new tennis courts and behemoth structures along the periphery of the campus). I’m putting some pictures below. Off now to a meeting with my language partner.