Only in China: "Ni Pang le"
Only in China will MALE acquaintances casually, cheerfully and publicly inform you that you’ve gained weight. They actually use THE word. Then they thoughtfully translate it for you in English, as if your sudden speechless daze is due to the fact that you FORGOT the Chinese word for “fat.” They say it as if you’re buddies, they’ve got your back and are sacrificially...
It’s hard to say goodbye.– One of my students, very sincerely, at the end of our end of the year party. So sweet and moving.
For some reason this made me LOL
I think it’s the slightly awkward formality, yet endearing frankness in which my Chinese student writes in his second language. In his homework notebook about marriage: Many people think that getting married is a vital ingredient for happiness in life. They don’t, however, recognize the consequences of marriage. Rather than happiness, many are victims of tormenting attributes . Marriage...
Passing-on the last 100 years of history
Yesterday I met with a Chinese friend who has been photographing old people in Shanghai. She said that her grandparents don’t talk about their past in detail or discuss the Cultural Revolution. They may mention one or two points when pressed, but skim over the details. She thinks they are ashamed, afraid or maybe it’s too painful. I thought, if they won’t tell their own...
Gotta love the Chinese language
Student: “I heard you know how to play, “kill people.”
Me: “Um…? Oh! Yes. In the U.S. we call it, ‘Mafia.”
Student: “Oh. We call it, “kill people.”
Gotta love Mandarin for being so literal.
Oops in translation
I taught my Chinese co-worker “oops” after she heard me use it and thought it was hilarious. Later, after she inadvertently walked us out on a red light, she was throwing her hands in front of oncoming cars, chirping to herself, “oops, oops, oops.” Glad my lesson came in handy.
A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock,...– EMILY BRONTE, Wuthering Heights
Why was I such a young fool Thought I’d make history Making babies was...– Tracy Chapman, All that You Have Is Your Soul
Well it’s life informing art informing life again Like every stupid kid...– Glen Phillips, Train Wreck
It’s better to burn out than to fade away.– Neil Young, My My, Hey Hey
热情 (re qing), warm and enthusiastic
Yesterday I was complimented for being 热情, a word I learned a long time ago meaning “warm and enthusiastic.” I think Chinese value a 热情 person, as it is one of the first personality-trait vocabulary words I learned. I was flattered but wondered why in Mandarin those two words are so often associated. In the U.S. I don’t think we would naturally associate a warm person with...
减肥是个女性一生的事业 (Weight-loss is a woman’s lifelong career).– Said with a shrug by my student, on the way home from the grocery store after explaining why she didn’t buy her usual snack. I feel ya sister. Life is certainly not fair in America either.
Prices on the mainland rivaling Hong Kong?
I visited my friend in Hong Kong last weekend at the same time that I went to a journalism conference. This friend is from mainland China, so it was interesting to hear both her nostalgia for her home as well as her perspective on Hong Kong, where she has been living, working and studying for the last three years. She kept saying that Hong Kong was so expensive, and I have to agree that 6,000 HK...
Tumblr friends: I have been commissioned to write a monthly column for Shanghai...
Style & Glory: What language is hardest to learn? →
styleandglory: The Foreign Service Institute at the United States Department of State rated 63 languages based on how difficult they are for English speakers to learn. They concluded that Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean were the most difficult, with Japanese typically being the hardest of the…
While China has 350,000 millionaires and 115... →
A recent poll by Renmin University showed that only 5.3 percent of respondents...– http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/20/a-deadly-ferrari-crash-in-beijing-leads-to-more-political-intrigue/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss (via timquijano)
Overprivileged Chinese Kids Tour Europe →
fluffcloudyao: The first article in this two-part series, by journalist and author Pallavi Aiyar, describes China’s children of privilege during one whirlwind European tour. Children learn so much by comparisons, and Aiyar’s conversations with the young tour group offer candid insights into China’s inequality and newfound sense of cultural superiority. I have a feeling I would not enjoy...
Conversations with 5th grade ESL students.
Student: Teacher is married?
Me: No, I'm not.
Student: Teacher has boyfriend?
Me: Ha, no, I don't.
Student: What? Umm...why?
Me: Umm...because I don't?
Student: I make teacher boyfriend.
Me: Haha. Noooo, that's ok. Please don't.
Ni chu shenme tou?
I love learning phrases in Chinese that tell me a bit about the culture. Yesterday in our text we learned 你出什么头？”Ni (you) chu (go out) shenme (what) tou (head)?” In other words, “Who are you to pop your head up?” In in a situation where nobody is saying anything, nobody is calling out the boss or being confrontational or speaking up to say what everyone else might be...
All we are given is possibilities — to make ourselves one thing or...– Jose Orega Y Gasset
A tribute to those who have helped us
Today on Facebook, a friend I met at a training program for young minority journalists during my job at The Kansas City Star, posted about a champion for diversity newspaper recruiting who was included in the latest round of layoffs at The Chicago Tribune. It was troubling news and a sign of the times—newsrooms are not only thinner but less diverse, and that’s affecting coverage. The...
On Chinese hospitality
Went to dinner with two of my favorite students and their two friends last night. As we were walking there, Sky says to me, “I know you like red wine, so I bought three bottles.” Ha, how did I get a reputation? I swear it was just that at a Spring Festival party hosted by the school I didn’t realize that in China you generally only drink when toasting. The students were so cute,...
One is the Quirkiest Number: The Freedom and... →
From the New York Times: Living alone means freedom to come and go and space and solitude to recharge. It can also unleash eccentricities. A great lifestyle article in the NY Times. This is my first year ever living alone, and I have started to wonder if I can ever go back to having roommates. Before I couldn’t justify paying more rent, but now the Chinese university where I teach...
When comedy does(n't) translate
Today in conversational English class we talked about crime and punishment, so to end on a lighter note after our discussion on capital punishment (most students didn’t know China ranked number one in the world in its administering of capital punishment), I introduced them to the Darwin Awards. Only the ones with the best English understood most of them. Only a couple understood this one,...
Trailing Siblings: Redefining Family in Shanghai →
A story for Shanghai Family magazine inspired by my own experience of being drawn to China because my brothers were here first. We can create our own satellite families here and hopefully ease our parents’ worries. It makes the overseas experience a little less lonely.
Luxury Market: The Chinese Wear Prada →
A recent story I wrote on luxury shopping trends in China. Most interesting thing, I thought, was that mainland Chinese are buying luxury less and less for show and more for personal enjoyment. Made me think that maybe I should buy a luxury bag someday, after I research the “culture” of the brand and figure out which brand’s “heritage” and “legacy” fits...
What's in an English name?
This week I asked my students to explain why they chose their English names. Branch said the class is a tree, and he just wants to do his part as a branch. Bing said he is the only one who looks like a round piece of soft bread, Chinese word: “bing.” Only Wang said it sounds like “only one,” and he wants to be unique. Linkin said he likes Linkin Park, the band, and Lincoln, the president....
My Alma Mater voted "trendiest Christian college" →
According to Huffington Post, Pepperdine’s applications jumped 17.46 percent in 2011 and the university landed a spot on numerous “top college” lists. Recently, student reviewers rated the campus No. 3 Most Scenic on Collegeprowler.com, as well as No. 11 in Best Course Variety. They didn’t fail to mention the university’s excellent student body either, referencing the record number of...
Michigan State University surveyed more than 700 employers seeking to hire...– Bring Your Parent To Work Day: So-called helicopter parents have hit the workplace, phoning employers to advocate on behalf of their adult children. Human resource managers say more parents are trying to negotiate salary and benefits and are even sitting in on job interviews. (via nprfreshair)
My Alma Mater on Jeopardy
We didn’t really do this though. We were good students ;) We just would stare mindlessly at the ocean when bored, tired or stressed. Glad to be going back tomorrow though! Speaking of procrastinating… I’ve got to pack!
The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to...– ~G.K. Chesterton
Inspiring travel site for aspiring travel writers →
Reading: A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable... →
“I have heard of this woman through Christians I know here in China, so I’m interested in what she has to say. I came across it as part of one of Kindle’s daily book deals (Only 1.99!). In the first chapter I was struck by this line: “And many middle-aged Chinese no longer talk about the reform movement. In a more prosperous China, they no longer are interested in...