Saturday May 3
We called the boys back in
I spent most of the day doing laundry, downloading photos from the trip, catching up on email and online news, and finishing last week’s blog. I had not had a computer all week so it was a long process. Stephen spent the day practicing his Chinese. It amazes me that he is so into this. He has several online lessons and a few books and together he’s determined to master at least basic Chinese. This may turn into a family competition, to see who can learn the most. I am more than willing to concede defeat.
After dinner we called my mother and we all sang her Happy Birthday in Chinese: shang ri quai le. Stephen also checked in with his mother, and learned that his father is doing well in rehab after breaking his hip last week. He should be home in a few days. All in all an uneventful, but necessary down day.
Sunday May 4
We headed into the Temple of Heaven Park. Stephen had never been and I had been there in the freezing winter of 1998 and scorching summer of 2005, but never been there on a nice day. After yesterday’s storm, it was turning out to be a lovely day outside.( The China Daily today says there have been 84 “blue sky” days in the first four months of 2008…..which sky were they looking at???). The park is vast, but not much activity. I thought we’d see more kites and Frisbees, but this seemed more solemn. But the peonies, roses and wisteria were all in bloom, so it was pleasant. We went from there to the Pearl Market across the street and bought a few more gifts. Stephen patiently waited while I haggled. Rui Pei Pei Pearls is not what it used to be – more expensive and more perturbed bored salespeople. We then ventured to the toy market next door, where Stephen and Katie were about to buy a Nintendo DS for 700 quai until they got down to the real price (which included games), that was more than 1000. No go.
We took a cab home and I noticed several Chinese flags hanging out dorm windows of a nearby university. This is the first overtly nationalistic symbol I’ve seen. I wonder if the dorms at Renmin are similarly adorned –I see only one at this end of our campus.
I am reading The Bookseller of Kabul and for all my complaints about life in
Monday May 5
Head into my office for a full day of work. I’m prepping for this week’s classes, plus two guest lectures in Renmin colleagues’ classes on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, plus I’ve agreed to give a lecture on Chinese adoptees at
The research for the adoption lecture is tricky to find. All my books and resources on this topic are back in the States and online sources are often blocked blogs. But I send out a slew of emails to adoption aficionados and get a fair number of positive responses, with leads to good information. Several years ago, I read Kay Johnson’s book Wanting A Daughter, Needing A Son and remember the highlights. The piece that is hard for me to get my head around is her research that indicated that 80+% of adoptees have sisters still in
I return to my colleague “Judy’s” class to give her students feedback on US journalism practices. The students have done a content analysis of several
Another student looked at the NYTimes editorials over the past seven years and found 11 on
Then the discussion devolved into
I am very curious what the students’ final papers will look like and I request that they send them to me. If I get any, I will include them in the blog later.
What has been encouraging is the reporting done by Chinese papers on both the child labor scandal in
I go to my afternoon undergrad class and I am a bit disappointed on the stories they have written. Most are fluffy features, taking video and copy right off websites. I give a lecture on plagiarism and then stress that original reporting, digging for facts/truth/depth, is what journalism is about, not being a stenographer and regurgitating facts supplied from PR folks. They need to remember to ask WHY something is happening, not just tell me it happened. I hope their next two assignments are stronger. I would like to post those on the blog in the future as well.
After class, grad student Michael interviews me for a travel story in the China Daily. I reluctantly agree to help him, even though the China Daily is my least favorite publication. I will be in next week’s edition, complete with photos. Check it out!
Later, Eve stops by. She has been contacted by five Yiyang adoptive families asking her to get information or take photos for them. So hopefully she’ll have a little business next time she returns home.
Today I give a guest lecture in Li Qingsi’s class. He is a fellow I met at a luncheon of Fulbright alumni when we first arrived in February. He teaches International Relations here. The students were armed with examples of what in their view was negative coverage of
I am slowly beginning to realize how effective the Chinese government has been in developing a whole generation of Chinese who unwaveringly support them. Lulled by a booming economy and an educational system that discourages critical thinking and reinforces the Chinese history of oppression at the hand of westerners (not their own government’s repression), most of the next generation of Chinese is not looking for western style freedoms. Any criticism from outsiders is viewed as racist or imperialist, anyone who criticizes from inside is seen as unpatriotic or a traitor. The brilliant public relations strategy, to turn the news about the
After this lecture I head to my afternoon class where we discuss ethical issues of what images, stills or video, are OK to publish, and what crosses the line. The same three students engage in discussion, and the rest of the class remains mute.
Before I leave my office, I finally take the time to listen to the interview I gave to BU Today, the
I spent three hours on line or on the phone last night working out the logistics for the next four days. Katie goes to the city of
Katie is up early for her field trip to
We saw on the web that the Olympic torch had made it to the top of
I had lunch with Li Qingsi, the international relations guy whose class I guest lectured to yesterday. His specialty is US-China relations and he had just returned from a conference in
Katie gets home late afternoon from
I spent the remainder of the day and late into the evening on the power point for the adoption lecture I will give in