Archive for the ‘WKMS Abroad’ Category
In the last few days here in Weihai I’ve had time to visit a zoo, eat dinner with university administrators, give a presentation on student activities at MSU and go to a KTV to sing my heart out.
Let’s get the official (literally) business out of the way first. Part of a MSU delegation trip to Shandong University at Weihai is to have a reception and meet with university administrators. So, on this particular evening we met with the president, the secretary a dean and professor. We were all presented with gifts and we reciprocated, then on to dinner. Here’s where the fun begins. First, to my knowledge professional/business banquets in China involve significant consumption of high proof alcohol, and there are some “rules” to the drinking. Picture a round table with assigned seats. The party host sits directly across from the entrance of the room. The second host sits directly across the table. The role of the first host is to welcome guests and give three toasts. The role of the second host to my knowledge, as told to me by our intrepid leader Issac, is to get drunk. Now on to the guests (us MSU folks) The guests, who sit next to the first and second host, historically should do as the hosts do, or at least give it the college try. And who gets the seat next to the second (drunk) host???? Me. He was a great man who spoke little English, but I gathered he got his graduate degrees in the Koreas, South and North (interesting). I also gathered he has quite the tolerance for high proof alcohol. The traditional drink for these dinners is a “white wine” but to us is more like fire water. (tested and proven, burns a blue flame) 54 percent alcohol, translates into 108 proof. Three glasses translate into a sweaty headache, a fire in the stomach and smidge of blurred vision. But, we made it. By the end of the dinner the second host referred to me as his little brother and gave me a hug (He stands to my left in the photo next to Sarah Clark). Good Times.
Believe it or not the firewater buzz didn’t lead to a night out singing karaoke, but a day at the zoo and visiting the easternmost coastal point in northern China did. You can see more about our zoo trip and beautiful photos on Dana’s blog. Anyway, our group had some busy days and wanted to blow off some steam, and we did at a family- oriented KTV. I write family oriented, because a quick Google search of KTV’s in China sometimes brings up some questionable photos and stories. So, here are a couple of things to note. KTV’s are individual singing rooms you rent for an hour or two where you and a group of friends shut the door, sit on couches drink various beverages eat some popcorn and sing as loudly and obnoxiously as you’d like. If you find yourself in a Chinese KTV be aware there are an array of American pop songs, but not all are translated correctly into karaoke versions, and the music videos don’t make much sense. For example, we sang “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” and the video depicted a series of grand prix car wrecks. Or, John Lennon’s “Imagine” had some very beautiful shots of vines, cherry trees, children crying, soccer matches and a frying pan. But we did have fun, with our popcorn, drinks and friends, new and old.
Tonight was the last presentation for our delegation regarding MSU. Dana and I gave our presentations on student life and organizations to a room full of SDUW students. They went well. But, honestly the best part comes at the end. Students flock to the floor of the presentation room to chat with us about all things American or Murray State. I spoke with a delightful girl whose American name is Amy. Amy asked if our group was going out to party tonight. I said no, and then returned the question. What about you? She says… “No, partying isn’t too popular here.” I suppose the campus-wide curfew puts a damper on late night gallivanting. Anyway, I asked what they do on the weekends when the curfew is extended to 11:30 p.m. Amy provided no real response, because she was bursting with excitement to tell me that she and her friends had a huge weekend planned. Was it windsurfing on the beach? Was it going on a road trip to visit another school? Was it an off campus party? NOPE. Amy and her friends were going to a mountain two hours away to pick cherries. Not the exhilarating beach, coastal schoolgirl’s response I expected. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when the hottest seller on campus is not an ice cream cone, soda, or candy bar, but huge slices of melon on a stick. Anyway, it just goes to show the sheer innocence these students possess. It is absolutely amazing. When is the last time you got uncontrollably excited about picking cherries with your friends? When is the last time you took time enjoy the company of people without any outside distracting influence? I’ve tried to hone in on what makes these people so accommodating and genuine, and I don’t think I have the complete answer, but I think Amy gave me a tidbit of it. What a great experience.
So, I learned some interesting things during the past few days. Some are newsy, some not. Let’s start with the newsy.
- An American couple named Finnie and Deb have transplanted here for a couple of years from a university in Nebraska. Deb attended our seminar on Tea. (See #2) So, Deb mentions to me an interesting aspect of the one child policy in China I hadn’t thought of before. (not that you are terribly interested in what I’ve thought before, but nonetheless) Twins. What does a family do if they obtain a permit for one child, but become pregnant with twins? You get to keep them. But, for folks who violate the one child policy the penalties are fairly strict, like 15,000 to 30,000 RMB (Currency) or you lose your job if you are a government employee. For some folks twins can be the perfect way to circumvent the policy. But, of course raising a two children is still expensive, but less so if the twins are different sexes. It is no surprise though that things here are a bit backwards than the U.S. Here boys are expensive. Traditionally, the groom’s parents pay for the wedding, and the home. So that’s a double whammy for the parents.
- The twin talk occurred during our tea tutorial. We sampled 5 teas: black, white, oolong, red and green. I’m no tea aficionado and you who are please feel free to skip this part. I was amazed at the process. It is simple and doesn’t take long to explain. First boil your water in a separate pot. Fill your tea pot and cups, then directly pour out the hot water. This heats up the pot. I’m not sure why it is important. I’m guessing not to shock the tea. Anyway, now that your teapot and cups are warm put your tealeaves in your strainer. Then pour your hot water over the tea then promptly pour out the water. This washes the leaves. Now you’re just another pour away from hot tea. Go ahead and fill your pot and then immediately pour the tea from the teapot into your cups. The kicker. No steep time. Well at least for those five teas we had zero steep time. Interesting huh?
Babies: So, picture a sumo wrestler. The diaper-like outfit. Got the picture? Now, picture babies running around the beach, or anywhere for that matter, with the complete opposite of that outfit. Two pant legs and a waist, but no back or front. Enough said. No need for detail or picture, but I can tell you it is true and for practical reasons, and maybe ingenious for potty training.
- The Liuong Island: Britain occupied a bunch of places for an awfully long time. This included the Liouong Island just off the coast of Weihai (BTW Pronounced Way- High) on the East China Sea. This is also home to the creation of the modern Chinese Navy. I also learned that you can take a lot of photos in China, but not of an old British home guarded by Chinese Naval Officers. (Out of sheer fear, I will post a photo that may or may not exist after I arrive back in the U.S.) So instead:
- Pandas are Cute
- Sometimes the sun has a ring around it. I saw it for the first time this week.
That’s all for now. Hope to post more soon. Hope everyone if faring well. Heard of severe weather in the region over the last day or so.
Day II in Wehai:
So, first of all, jet lag lives. Day two of waking up bright eyed at 4:30 a.m. and staving off crashing at 2:00 p.m. I disobeyed all suggestions of powering through the day to prevent further lag. I dozed for maybe an hour, and so far so good. I’m hoping to push through 10:00 this evening.
Since I last posted we’ve taken a tour of Weihai City, the Beach and Shandong University.
In other “news” During our tour of campus we learned that housing here and in most Chinese universities is a bit tighter than in the U.S. Many dorms have five or six students per room. And as far as necessities go, the campus has one major bath house for the entire student body. So, it is very common to see a large group of students walking around with towels and soap dishes into a building near our dormitory. Imagine sharing a bath house with around 15,000 people.
And, if you read my earlier post regarding waiting in line for the library, I can confirm it is true. I can also confirm that the library is the largest building on campus, 12 floors and full.
Today we had our first “shadow boxing” lesson. It is nothing like boxing, more like miming with a side of kungfu. Technically, it is Tai Chi and our crew put up a good fight, but ultimately ended up looking completely awkward. Documentation of the awkwardness might never be revealed, but cameras were present. We also had a great culture lesson from our fearless leader Issac. And we learned a bit of calligraphy. The photo below is work from our teacher. My work might best be compared with the artistic ability of an infant.
We topped off the evening with a wonderful meal and the first round of our presentations to students regarding Murray State. One of my colleagues, Dana Howard, is also blogging. See more here: Dana Discovers China
Jet Lag is starting to win again.
Well, reporting the news of Western Kentucky, Northwest Tennessee and Southernmost Illinois is in the capable hands of WKMS News while I’m away on a Murray State sponsored trip to Wehai, China. The round trip takes a little more than 24 hours depending on layover time. Four Murray State colleagues and I are visiting Shandong University. We’ll be here until May 31st. Shandong’s enrollment between two campuses is around 95,000.
We’ve spent the morning on a city tour. This town, bordering the East China Sea, has been called the most “comfortable” city in China. Weihai is more of a tourist city and, according to our friend and tour guide Isaac, doesn’t fall in line with a Chinese industrial city. But, Wehai has clear signs of the 8 percent economic growth. (The U.S. growth rate is around 1.8 percent) It is impossible to look anywhere in the city without seeing massive cranes and gigantic buildings under construction. Much of the building going on is in the housing sector. I’ve never been one for economics, though I do frequently tune into Marketplace, it is amazing to see clear evidence of what is being reported.
As expected some of our internet freedoms that we take for granted in the U.S. have been cut off. We are without youtube, gmail, facebook, and twitter. But, the Chinese have their own versions of the latter social network sites. Just this morning while watching China Central (CC) T.V. I caught an interesting conversation about Micro Blogging. More than 200 million Chinese folks are Micro-Blogging (tweeting). Something interesting noted in the video is that the Chinese “tweet” can contain more information in the allotted amount of characters than us Americans because of their symbol based language.
We are set to go on a campus tour in the next few minutes. Another interesting note, students wait in line to get….. in the library. And, no, the Library isn’t small by any means, it is actually one of, if not the largest building on campus (I’ll have to confirm during the tour) Students here are just that serious about studying. They are held to a 10:30 curfew and the power/lights are turned off in their dormitories after curfew. So, no late night youtubing…wait well no late night micro-blogging I guess.
I’ll check back when I can.
Iowa State University economist David Swenson has spent twenty years monitoring the biofuel industry in the United States. During his presentation at Tuesday’s Food, Fuel, and Society conference, Swenson argued for more conservative estimates on the potential jobs created from biofuels.
A study released last year by BIO, the biotechnology industry organization, estimated the number of jobs that will be created in the coming years. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section concluded from the report, “Increasing advanced biofuel production to a modest target of 45 billion gallons by 2030, which can be achieved by maintaining the same pace of technology development, could create more than 400,000 jobs within the industry and 1.9 million new jobs throughout the economy. Further, it could provide an economic boost of $300 billion.”
Kentucky is a fringe member of the major corn-production belt, but that hasn’t kept it from signing on with biofuels. In 2008, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear released his Energy Plan, which sets a goal of meeting 25 percent of the state’s energy needs through “reductions through energy efficiency and conservation and through the use of renewable resources.” As part of that, the administration added a Division of Biofuels. A task force within the agency estimated Kentucky’s biofuel industry alone could create, “as many as 10,000 permanent jobs.”
But Swenson says no way. Read the rest of this entry »
by ANGELA HATTON
It’s good to be back at work. Yesterday afternoon’s panel discussion brought out some interesting figures about the immigrant workforce.
Let’s start with some statistics shared by Domingo Martinez, director of the Cambio Center (Research and Outreach on Latinos and Changing Communities). It’s important to note that the United States government counts ethnic groups, not immigrants, which means the statistics on exactly how many Latino immigrants are in the United States legally and illegally is difficult to pinpoint, though some have tried. Read the rest of this entry »