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Movie Night

October 25, 2016 — Leave a comment

A fellow teacher at the university where I taught in China suggested to me that I show a movie to my class sometime. Hearing and seeing a movie in a foreign language they were studying would help them with some of the slang terms we use, and help them with the speed of our conversations. I liked the idea, and I took it a step further.

I told a sophomore class of English majors that we would have a movie night. I reserved one of the auditoriums on campus, and I told them that we would make it a cultural event as well, so everyone was allowed to bring one friend and all the snacks they wanted. The only rule we had was that they had to clean up after themselves.

The class I invited had 50 students, and if all of them brought a friend, the 150 seat auditorium would have ample space for everyone. Well, I was in for a big surprise, because when I arrived about 30 minutes before the assigned time to setup the movie with the projector, the room was absolutely packed!

A funny thing I noticed immediately was there was a thin man sitting beside the area where the computer was, so I could start the movie and adjust the volume in the speakers, and he must have been at least 80 years old! Apparently the word had gotten out that there was going to be a free movie shown, so it was packed. That actually made me very happy!

Movie Night in China

This is a photograph of the auditorium where I showed the movie. These are some of my students, but this wasn’t the night when I showed the movie. Maybe I should have made a second rule addressing the number of guests they could invite!

 

Help is on the Way

September 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

After the group of foreign teachers, the former Director of the Foreign Language Department at the university where I taught in China, and I started financially supporting the orphans from the fire in a fireworks factory, I returned to the States. One of the first and most important things I did once I returned was starting Global Partners in Life. Believe me, there are a few hoops to jump through to receive your Letter of Determination from the IRS!

While teaching at the university, one of the things I enjoyed most were the English Corners, where the English speaking students would gather to practice their English. From those causal conversations, I made many wonderful friends. One of the English teachers who was helping support the orphans had a wonderful idea, and I am delighted to say that some of the students from the English Corner stepped up and assisted the orphans we supported in an interesting way.

Help Is On The Way

In the photograph above, you see some of the college students who agreed to become mentors for the orphans we were supporting. The students were assigned to an orphan, and they became something like a big brother or big sister to the child. They would communicate with them, check on their homework and grades, and even try to teach the orphans some English. They would also follow up with the student’s teachers to see if there were any areas where they could help tutor the orphan. What a wonderful idea!

It absolutely thrilled me and warmed my heart to learn that the students from the English Corner were willing to help the orphans Global Partners in Life was supporting! We can all contribute in many ways to help others less fortunate than ourselves. So, would you like to help Global Partners in Life?

The Chinese are very financially responsible as a rule, so I think that is what is at the foundation of my story for today. It is VERY common to view laundry hanging out to dry in China. For a country with all of the wealth that China has, you would expect to see many clothes dryers, but that isn’t the case.

Iimage002n the picture to the left, you can see where someone tied a cord between two trees by a street and used that as their clothes line. I wouldn’t recommend using this approach, because that bus going past it may spray exhaust all over the nice clean clothes!

On the college campus where I taught, it was very common to see the student’s clothes hanging outside their dorm windows to dry. As you can see from the photo, there is even a clothes hanging rack outside the dorm window.image004

In most apartments there is an enclosed balcony with clothes hanging lines in it. That is what I had at my apartment at the university, and in some of the other places I lived I had a folding clothes rack.

I salute the Chinese for not wanting to have large utility bills, and opting to air out their laundry!

In areas of China where coal is used for heating, cooking, and in industry, it is common to see people wearing an additional sleeve from their wrists to their elbows. The reason for this is to keep their clothes clean. There is a very fine black dust that gets on everything when coal is used in these various ways, so people want to protect their clothes. When I was teaching at a university in China, the students would wear these sleeves over the sleeve of their coats. Since they would spend so much time with their forearms on their desks, their sleeves would constantly get the coal dust on them if they didn’t do something to avoid the dust. Nobody wanted to wash their coat every day, so the external sleeves are a great option.

AllYearLong

As you can see in the picture above, taxi drivers use the sleeves during the summer. Actually, many people use the sleeves in the summer, because they don’t want to sun to darken the color of their skin. It is also common to see people walking around in the summer with an umbrella, even when it isn’t raining. Again, this is to protect their skin from the sun’s rays. Many people in China believe that lighter colored skin is preferable, which is ironic because there is no telling how much money and time is spent by Americans trying to get a better tan. You can also see how this driver is wearing a glove on his left hand to protect it from the sun.

At the university in China where I taught, foreign students, foreign teachers, and employees lived in apartment buildings.  If you were fortunate enough to be a high ranking employee or someone with many years of service, then you would be permitted to have a first floor apartment.  There were some noticeable benefits of a first floor apartment besides not having to walk up the stairs.  And to answer your question, no, we didn’t have elevators.  su

Some nice features of a first floor apartment included a courtyard behind your apartment that was yours and you received a storage unit.  The storage units had no electricity, water, or heat. They were just concrete walls with a roof.  To my surprise I found that some people tried to rent their storage units, not for storage, but for a home!  The university frowned on this, so they made a rule that all of the units had to be locked at night, and the security guards that patrolled at night would check the units to make sure they were locked.  Some college students were so desperate to get away from the crowded dorms they would still rent the units knowing they would be locked in at night.  Did I mention they had no electricity, water, or heat?  The owner would probably be the person that locked them in at night, but the renter had to make sure they had someone to unlockthe door in the mornings.  My greatest fear was that there would be a fire and the tenants would be locked inside!

Another option some people chose with their storage units was to turn them into a small shop.  Many sold snacks or home made tofu from their units, and these were usually a great place for friends to gather.  You could always come across a card game, board game, or chit chat when going by the storage units that were open to the public.su2

Some people would paint the exteriors of their units, and they looked much nicer than the ones that were not painted.  I lived in the north east section of the campus, and nobody in that area decorated their units, so our area didn’t look as nice as others.  

On the campus of the Shanghai Jiaotong University is a library to honor a scholar named Tsung-Dao Lee. Actually, he was much more than a scholar, as you will see. He left China and enrolled at the University of Chicago. In 1950 he received his PhD at 24 years of age. When he was 30 years old, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. At that time, he was the youngest person to receive a Nobel Prize! Later, he became a professor at Columbia University.

The library is a new building and not all of it is open to the public. One of the really interesting aspects of the library is the way chosen to show the impact Dr. Tsung-Dao Lee had on so many people. When his wife died, he started a scholarship to honor her, and he assisted many people in China and help some come to America to study. The second picture below demonstrates some of the correspondences he had between America and China.

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004b_JiaotongUniversity_Library

Below, you will find the entrance to the library. The photographs going up the stairs were very interesting as well. Also, I am including a picture of the professor from a display at the university. Truly, he is an accomplished student and professor of Physics!

004c_JiaotongUniversity_Library

004d_JiaotongUniversity_Library

 

 

 

 

While touring the Shanghai Jiaotong University campus, I saw something I had never seen before. It was a wonderful gesture, and I was truly impressed by this act.

003a_JiaotongUniversity_Campus

The notes you see tied to the tree limbs are for a professor that passed away. I was told he had been a professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University for many years, and he was loved and respected by the students. I don’t know how or why this location on campus was chosen for this memorial, but perhaps it was because the tree was beautiful and it was so quiet and peaceful beside the creek. This gesture by so many students made us want to meet the man and know his secret to having such a strong relationship with his students. Honestly, I can’t think of any professors I had that strong of a relationship with, so my hat is off to this gentleman.

Near the tree memorializing the professor were two other interesting things I noticed. The first one was a wall that was holding nothing up. The use of the stones and open areas within the wall were unique for me to see. Perhaps it had something to do with feng shui, but I don’t know.

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The next item I noticed was a wooded area that was very thick and lush. It also had a bird house hanging in it, so this was a surprise to see on the campus.

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This oasis was wonderful to find in a huge city like Shanghai!

On a recent trip to Shanghai, I was given a tour of Shanghai Jiaotong University. This university is renowned as being one of China’s oldest, most prestigious, and selective universities. It was founded in 1896 and currently has over 42,000 students, 1,598 of them are international students. This institution is known as a research university and offers 203 Ph. D. programs and 28 post-doctorate programs. The Academic Ranking of World Universities lists Shanghai Jiaotong University between 6 and 15 in all of Asia!

Their campus is lovely and has many interesting sights. I was told this statue symbolizes the freedom wisdom gives someone.

002a_JiaotongUniversity_Intro

Like most university campuses, there are beautiful locations to relax or study. Sometimes you can find wildlife or hear water nearby.

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002c_JiaotongUniversity_Intro

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As with most of the university campuses I have seen in China, the use of bicycles and scooters is very common. Jiaotong University was no exception to this observation.

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My friend that was giving me the tour is a research scientist at the university. I actually met him in 2002 during my first trip to China. He was a Physics major, and it tickled me that his English was better than the English majors I met. I am very thankful for all of my good friends in China, even if I don’t get to see them very often!