On Sunday March 17th I attended the first year’s party on West Campus of JUST. Students were holding a party in honour of the soldier Lei Feng. Lei Feng was a soldier in the PLA (People’s Liberation Army). He has gone down in history as a selfless and modest character and was endorsed by Chairman Mao. In 1963 he became the subject of a nationwide propaganda campaign “Learn from Comrade Lei Feng” ( 向雷锋同志学习) and remains a cultural icon to this day, inspiring a host of events throughout the month of March which celebrate his legacy.
It is quite apt that recently in my classes we have been speaking about and nominating people that we think are heroic and have (or will) go down in history. Were you in one of these discussions? How do you feel about it now? I learnt a lot about your views and contemporary Chinese society in the process. Some of the nominations included Lei Feng himself and amongst others the bus driver Wu Bin, Abraham Lincoln, Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, government official Bao Zheng from the Northern Song Dynasty, journalist Chai Jing, Kuomintang soldier Dong Chunrui, scientist Yuan Longping, Hua Mulan and who could forget Kobe Bryant.
I was invited to “perform” – never quite sure what this means as I can’t sing, I definitely can’t dance and anyone who knows me knows that I’m more of a ‘behind the scenes’ sort of person. I thought I would do a reading (surely I couldn’t mess that up?) I looked hard through my collection of books and articles for something to read, a passage that would sum up the meaning of this guy. I didn’t really have anything that I deemed suitable so went back to square one. One night whilst listening to some lectures about China online there was a discussion about the novelist Mo Yan who shot to international fame recently. If you have been living under a rock for the last six months then you mightn’t have heard that Mo Yan won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature. I read several extracts from his work, much of it auto-biographical; many jokes, idioms, often self-mocking or metaphorical. I felt that this would be hard to communicate on stage so continued reading. Eventually I found an extract from ‘Change’, from 2010. The passage was about how Mo Yan, a once cocky and mischievous student became alienated for his outgoing character at school. He was thrown out of his school repeatedly but would break back in every day by climbing the wall into the playground where he would hide from teachers, hoping to benefit from the knowledge of his peers. The sentiment of the extract is that despite these shortcomings, nobody loved school more than he. His bad behaviour and outgoing nature were misunderstood and that he did in fact care for and respect his teachers dearly. I felt the spirit and determination demonstrated by his persistence and self improvement summed up what the Lei Feng campaign was all about.
我被邀请去表演 – 我不知道这意味着什么，因为我不能唱歌，我也绝对不能跳舞，认识我的人都知道，我更倾向于做一个幕后的人。我想我可以阅读一些东西（当然我不能搞砸了）我艰难的通过我收集的书籍和文章中找一些东西来阅读，找一段可以总结雷锋的句子。我真的找不到什么我认为合适的，所以又回到了原点。一天晚上，在网上听一些关于中国在线讲座时，有一个关于小说家莫言引起的，最近谁对国际声誉开枪了的讨论。如果你一直在岩石下生活了6个月，那么你可能没有听说过莫言荣获2012年诺贝尔文学奖的事。我看了一部分他的作品，其中大部分是自动履历;有许多笑话，成语，常常自嘲或隐喻。我觉得，这个很难拿出来讨论，所以我继续阅读。最终我发现了一段摘抄叫做“更改”，从2010年中找出来的。段落是说莫言，一个骄傲和调皮的，被学校的学生孤立的学生，如何变得外向。他反复的被学校赶出去，但都每天爬墙进入操场，在那里他会躲着教师，希望从他的同龄人中获益知识。得到的总结是，尽管有这些缺点，没有人喜欢学校比他多。他不好的行为以及外向的性格被误解了，事实上，他很关心和尊重他的老师。我感受到他坚持中变现出来的精神和决心以及自我提升，总结了一下就是雷锋活动上要说的了。
Change by Mo Yan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012.
First published in 2010 by Seagull Books as part of its ‘What was Communism’ series and translated by Howard Goldblatt.
I wanted to write this because I was so nervous about speaking in front of that many people. For the first few minutes, my voice ebbed and flowed. I scratched and squeaked a bit, I felt my face go redder, redder still, hands shaking … but eventually I found my rhythm and began to enjoy it.
I don’t think most of the audience were very fluent in English and there were less language students than I had expected – but this was not the point. The point, as always, was to be understood, so I dug deep and tried to give it all a bit more stage presence by moving about a little, adding gesture wherever I could and involving the audience directly by looking up from the printed notes as I became more confident and tried to make them feel the story, make them laugh and think. It worked and I could see the crowd begin to understand the context of the piece.
Speaking of Lei Feng and his legacy, this made me smile … a selection of photographs by artist Dai Xiang (戴翔) recently featured on the Beijing Today website, entitled ‘What if Lei Feng served today?’ See also Dai Xiang’s blog.
Each class was asked to pick a famous international tourist destination and to design, plan, build a miniature model of the landmark. The materials used for the actual model had to be recycled and the landmark recognisable. Bellow are pictures of the participants and event which was held at Jiangxi University of Science and Technology Located in Ganzhou City.
Wednesday Class 1:
Wednesday Class 2:
Wednesday Class 3:
Thursday Class 4:
Friday Class 1:
Bellow are the pictures from all the classes that took part in this Competition.
On our second day in Manila we woke up early and made our way to the walled city of Intramuros (meaning: within the walls) which is one of the oldest, historical and protected parts of Manila, It was at one point home to the Spanish government during the Spanish colonial period. Outside the wall was known as extramuros (meaning: outside the walls). Arriving there one of the very first places we saw was the very impressive Manila cathedral after which we headed directly to the walled city to see the gate of Fort Santiago which had gone through a lot of reconstructed after nearly being completely destroyed in World War II. There’s a museum which was home to a Spanish governing officer, the old theatre and guard post towards the end near the river. Thought it is worth visiting, I suggest that you only go if you are really interested in colonial history, an architecture enthusiast or if you have some extra time/or a day to spare and like walking. The place is vast and tiring, you can hire a horse and carriage or go for the White Knight Electric Chariot Tours. My friend and I walked and explored both the inner and outer walled area, there are some great restaurants and museums dotted around. At one point I even ended up skating with some local kids and in a wedding inside San Agustin Church.
Lost in Thailand is the first Chinese film to make over 1 billion yuan, It is a Chinese comedy directed and co-written by Xu Zheng. Two competitive Chinese businessmen (who where once best friends) go searching for their boss in Thailand in order to win a contract, whilst there they meet a naive Chinese tourist and embark on a funny, scheming and at times unbelievable journey across Thailand.
This film will have you laughing out loud so keep it for a cloudy or rainy day.
Lost in Thailand Directed by: Xu Zheng/ 徐峥