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From Bows to Vows: Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs Issue Recommended Wedding Vows

January 15th, 2010 8 comments

(If this one by General Song Zuying Mr. Sha Baoliang gives you goose bumps, visit here for an earlier version of the same song)

In America, I haven’t seen anybody getting married without an exchange of vows that goes something like this: “I, (Bride / Groom), take you (Groom / Bride), to be my (wife / husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part. “

Traditionally Chinese wedding does not have such formal vows.  The newly-weds just have three bows during a wedding, usually announced by a wedding host:  “First, bow to the heaven and earth; second, bow to the parents; third, bow to each other!”  Read more…

Categories: News Tags:

Learning about the Chinese Mind through Chinese Food

January 13th, 2010 22 comments

This may not be a profound truth that I just discovered, but have you noticed that Chinese food and Chinese thinking have a lot to do with each other? Obvious as it may seem, one can become more reflective after encounters with another type of food and thinking behind it. In my case, the comparison is between China and America.

1. In cooking we don’t have “1 cup”, “1/4 cup”, “1 teaspoon” measurement, we say “a little salt”. Exactly how little is little, it’s all a matter of exposure (to other cooks), exchange (of experience) and experience (of your own practice). We don’t have “preheat oven to 425 degrees” either, we say “small fire”, “medium fire”, “”big fire”. Scratch your head and think what these mean. The Chinese mind is similarly conditioned to process such chaotic vagueness with ease and patience.

Read more…

Categories: culture, education Tags:

Global Warming or Global Fussing?

December 15th, 2009 59 comments

Chinese philosopher Liezi once described a story about a man from the Kingdom of Chi who was so worried that the sky would fall down that he was losing sleep and appetite and generally the will to live. The phrase “Qi Ren You Tian”(杞人忧天) has then evolved into a generic idiom describing a big fuss over nothing, used typically in negative connotations. After the global warming theory came into fashion, now once again, people are worried about the sky falling over!

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Chinese Copyright Protection in the Age of Digital Books, Creative Commons, Remixes, and Mashups

November 15th, 2009 4 comments

This may sound like a Dilbert kind of approach, but some problems are solved if you wait long enough. Copyright protection is certainly a case in point.

The United States has been a patient critic of Chinese copyright protection, but according to Wei Gu, columnist for Reuters, such calls for action has fallen on deaf ears (see: Copyright protection battle in China).   The hope is that Chinese government and individuals realize themselves the importance of protection for intellectual property.

That day may come sooner than expected. Read more…

Categories: General Tags:

Fear of Kubin is the end of wisdom

November 13th, 2009 38 comments

Wolfgang Kubin, Bonn University Professor of Chinese Studies, is a well-known critic of Chinese literature, a critic in every sense of the word. Every time he speaks about Chinese literature, he makes waves among observers of Chinese literature. He was famous for “trashing” Chinese literature, which has at various times being interpreted as trashing of Chinese literature in general, Chinese novels in particular, or novels by the sentimental “beauty writers” to be more exact. Chinese writers probably can also claim that Kubin is trash, but they have not done so.  That shows a humility that contrasts sharply with Kubin’s elitist and dismissive criticism.  Read more…

Categories: Analysis, culture, language, Opinion Tags:

What Lies between Chinese Writers and the Nobel Prize

October 8th, 2009 39 comments

Nobel Prize for Literature was just awarded to Herta Müller, born in Romania and productive in Germany. This came somewhat to my surprise even though I had not been playing with a crystal ball. Shortly before the announcement, one prominent member of the jury Peter Englund admitted to the Associated Press that the prize has become too Eurocentric with most jury members being European . Americans have not won any Nobel Prize in literature since 1993. Englund’s confession sparkled some hope in America that this time it might be an American author. And the disappointment that followed!
Read more…

Interview with Dr. Edwina Pendarvis (III): Teacher and Parent Roles in Education

October 5th, 2009 5 comments

Question: In your opinion, are teachers in the US given enough latitude to teach effectively?

IDEA (a law for programs for students with disabilities), Title I (a part of a law for programs for economically disadvantaged students), our equal opportunity laws and even, to a certain extent, the No Child Left Behind law, as well as many other laws and influences have created a system that does a good job at providing the basics (except computer basics ) to almost all students. In doing that, we’ve made teachers’ jobs much harder (though it’s worth it). Read more…

Categories: education Tags: , ,

Interview with Dr. Edwina Pendarvis (II): Chinese vs. US Education

October 2nd, 2009 7 comments

Question: If you can comment on the differences between the Chinese and US educational systems that would be great. If not, from your experience working with US students and Chinese students, what are some of the things that stand out to you as being very different? What could Chinese students learn from their US counterparts and what could American students learn from their Chinese counterparts?

Dr. Pendarvis: Lucky for you I know very little about the Chinese educational system, and so I won’t go on so long in answering this question! I can only talk about the few Chinese students I’ve worked with. They were ALL more intellectual and interested in ideas than most American students I’ve taught. They were also more respectful of others’ ideas, including the professors. Whatever their private thoughts, they consistently asked questions rather than dismissing others’ ideas without giving them much thought. Read more…

Categories: education, General Tags:

Interview with Dr. Edwina Pendarvis (I): Anti-Intellectualism in US Schools

October 1st, 2009 10 comments

Recently there has been much discussion in both China and the US about the advantages or disadvantages of education in both countries. For instance, Mr. Robert Compton made a movie called 2 Million Minutes, which advocates learning from China and India in its K12 education. Views by Mr. Compton was largely rejected by scholars such as Dr. Zhao from Michigan State University who suggests the US system is doing fine while the Chinese one needs reform. In the meantime, someone in China seems to have forged an article by Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., former President of Yale, attacking Chinese higher education as basically a joke. If that article showed anything, it indicates extreme dissatisfaction with the Chinese educational system.

During such discussions on the differences between Chinese and American education, we interviewed Dr. Edwina Pendarvis for her input on what went wrong with the US education. Dr. Pendarvis is Professor Emeritus of Gifted Education at Marshall University and an Internationally recognized scholar of high-achieving students. Read more…

Reflections on the Compton-Zhao Debate

September 15th, 2009 33 comments

Video: The Zhao vs. Compton Debate

It’s surreal to hear Dr. Zhao from China working in the US defending the US educational system while Mr. Compton advocating that the US learn from China’s system. One thing is for sure: the world is getting flat.

The rest are open to debate.

As I watched this debate, a story that came to mind was the meteorologist forecasting a severely cold winter after seeing Indians hording chopped wood, while the Indian got the idea from the meteorologist who had suggested earlier that the winter would probably be cold. This happens when you make comparisons between two moving targets. In recent years, China is learning from “developed countries” such as US itself, ways to move away from the test-driven education system toward more “rounded education”. I am a reviewer of an educational journal in China and I constantly find papers describing “US experiences” and their implication for China. In the meantime, school curriculum is including an increasing number of subjects that Mr. Compton might be laughing at, such as life skills training. And here we are: Mr. Compton told us that the US should learn from China. Now what? Read more…

Categories: education, General Tags: , , , ,

Chinese Ethnic Policies and the Affirmative Action: One Rationale, Two Failures

July 7th, 2009 56 comments

Recent riots in Urumqi have been attributed by the Chinese government to the instigation of Rebiya Kadeer and her World Uyghur Congress. This may distract from a potential public debate on ethnic policies that badly need reform.

Years ago, in a high school politics class, I heard our teacher tell us a story about a Han soldier in Tibet. When this soldier saw broken pieces of human body being exposed at mountaintop and pecked at by birds of prey, not knowing this is a part of the Tibeten “sky burial”, Read more…

Categories: General Tags: ,

China Needs to Bridge its Digital Divide, One Official at a Time

June 19th, 2009 34 comments

Recent events in China suggest that a bunch of technological laggards are trying to play in a field they do not know much about. This ignorance causes increasing social tensions between the government and the netizens, in most cases unnecessarily. In the past month, the government has blocked sites such as blogger and twitter, and then they require the use of filtering software Green Dam, and in the most recent developments, CCTV reported on Google as spreading pornographic information, and the government conveniently suspended its Chinese operations.
Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Saving Grace

May 12th, 2009 39 comments

This post was a translation from Li Chengpeng’s blog as part of our effort to memorize the tragic earthquake one year ago.  The author Li was a sports commentator who later on became active in other public spheres.  After the Sichuan earthquake, he went to Beichuan as a reporter as well as a volunteer.   As far as I know, this blog post had not been published anywhere other than his blog.  However, I find it to be a touching story of the human spirit  when faced with such disasters, and the miraculous impact a good conscience may have.

Original title: 北川邓家”刘汉小学”无一死亡奇迹背后的真相  (The truth behind the zero death miracle of the Bei chuan Liu Han Elementary School)

Today, I am not going to write how many died. It pains me to write about these today. Let me talk about miracles. Read more…

What I talk about when I talk about copycatting

March 25th, 2009 60 comments

Recently a friend asked for help with the etymology of the word 危险。   She’s writing her thesis on the edge that artists have when they skillfully play with “danger.”  Her whole thesis revolves around the concept of Danger in art and all her professors keep telling her that 危险 has a different connotation in Chinese than danger does in English.  So she needs someone to help her to figure out what 危险originally means in Chinese.  Read more…

Categories: General Tags: , ,

Numbers as Language

March 13th, 2009 39 comments

NPR once broadcasted an interview talking about why Asian students are better at math (if I can be excused) . The speaker explained that in these mostly agricultural societies, the mindset is you reap how much you plant, hence their greater commitment. In America, there is more emphasis on “working smart” than “working hard”. Translated into educational jargon, he is saying that time on task still makes a difference. Read more…

Categories: language Tags: ,

What is the best country to get sick in?

March 12th, 2009 32 comments

This may start like a bar story, but it may end as a rant: one day, a Canadian colleague, an American colleague and I (Chinese) were having lunch, and we were talking about the health care problems each face in our countries.   In Canada, you pay high tax, but health care is free.  In America, you pay relatively low tax (according to the Canadian), but healthcare is ridiculously expensive.  China’s medical system is so diverse and constantly changing that I don’t know where to start.  Read more…

German and/or Chinese?

March 10th, 2009 23 comments

In a recent commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education (March 6, 2009, A33), Professor Brockmann (professor of German at Carnegie Mellon University) pointed out that the study of foreign languages should not be a zero-sum game.His commentary is a response to the University of Southern California’s plan to eliminate the German Department to usher in studies of Eastern Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese. I think he has got a point in saying that this is not a zero-sum game.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Do westerners care what we think?

September 23rd, 2008 96 comments

I felt honored to be invited as one of the authors for this site which seems to have a lot of healthy debate. I know that in the past, A Chinese blogger by the name Anti (安替) also started some effort to translate Chinese articles into English to let English-readers have a firsthand understanding of what the Chinese minds are pondering about. Read more…

Categories: culture Tags: