Showing posts with label Youth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Youth. Show all posts

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Uncle Sam Wants Some Students from Hengyang

When I visited the University of South China in Hengyang earlier this year, I was surprised to see a familiar uncle.

Poster with Uncle Sam and the words "I WANT YOU!" on a chain-linked fence

But Uncle Sam wasn't recruiting people for the U.S. Army Instead, the poster claimed to be advertising paid internships available in the U.S.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scenes from University of South China and Xiangtan University

In the spirit of the shouts and photos of recent university graduates in China, I will share some photos I took during brief visits a couple of months ago to two universities in Hunan province — University of South China in Hengyang and Xiangtan University in Xiangtan. They are focused mostly on buildings and landscape and represent only a small part of each university. Many of the taller buildings in the background of the University of South China photos are from the surrounding neighborhood. Like many other universities in China, Xiangtan University was not located in an urban area.

University of South China:

Xiangtan University:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Compute Actions Louder Than Words

The winds of change have blown across Beijing yet again.

Not only did students at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management not chant "revive the A shares, benefit the people; revive the A shares, benefit the people" at their graduation ceremony, but they also did not chant the updated slogan "Actions speak louder than words, shoulder responsibility, be innovative, benefit the people." Perhaps the university considered the point I made about the phrase "Actions speak louder than words".

Cecilia Li in Sinosphere reports they instead shouted, "Tsinghua S.E.M., benefit the people!" It doesn't seem as poetic as the previous versions or as creative as pink ribbon graduation photos.

Fortunately, slogans shouted by other schools proved to be a little more interesting. My favorite is the one shouted by the School of Information Science and Technology: "Compute lives! Compute the world! Compute the future!" I can't help but think that adding "Compute this!" at the end would have spruced things up even more.

Strangling Pink Ribbons and Vigorous Elves Appear on Graduation Day in China

Although People's Daily got it wrong in connecting No-Bra day to health risks, at least the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper has drawn a bit of attention to breast cancer prevention elsewhere. For example, in one series of related photos People's Daily explained:
Recently, several college graduates wearing pink ribbons took photos in Shandong University to advocate the "International activity of breast cancer prevention" and commemorate their university lives.
The details of how the graduates advocated the cause raise some questions though. Here is one of the photos:

six young women wearing pink dress holding a large pink "ribbon" which is wrapped around a young man's neck

I would like to explain the symbolism, other than the color of the cloth, in the scene and how it relates to breast cancer awareness.

However, I cannot.

For some useful context, though, People's Daily once again comes to the rescue. Here is a photo from another series, this one titled "Creative graduation caps of ‘vigorous elves’":

group of young women standing in formation and pulling out their shirts with one hand and looking down

I would like to explain the symbolism in the scene and how it relates to, well, anything.

However, once again, I cannot.

But People's Daily does offer this explanation:
Graduates from Nanjing University of the Arts pose for a group of creative graduation photos in their ballet costume on June 30, 2015. The history of the university can be traced back to the year of 1912.
I would like to explain why the date of the university's founding was mentioned.

However, yet again, I cannot.

More relevant here is that both sets of photos are examples of a common practice in China — students finding fun ways to make graduation photos more creative and memorable. And in this respect, it is hard to argue with the results of either photo.

I would like to explain why such photos receive the amount and type of attention they do from the People's Daily.

I have some guesses, however . . .

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tsinghua University Graduates to Now Shout "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" in Beijing

Yesterday I expressed hope to see a video of Tsinghua University graduates shouting "revive the A shares, benefit the people; revive the A shares, benefit the people" tomorrow as required by their school. Sadly, or happily, the event won't occur.

The South China Morning Post reported today today that the slogan was originally submitted by students as a joke. Although an official e-mail notice from the school stated students would be expected to shout the slogan, after news about it broke the school sent another notice stating that the slogan had not been officially approved. Some have suggested that the school had been playing along with the students' joke and was simply caught off guard when the issue became known to the public. Others don't buy that story and believe the school genuinely thought the slogan was a great idea.

In either case, the new slogan is "Actions speak louder than words, shoulder responsibility, be innovative, benefit the people." Presumably this slogan is not intended as a joke. So perhaps when students shout "Actions speak louder than words" they will think of the words in one of my most favorite articles in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China:
Article 35 Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
Congrats to this year's graduates all across China, whatever they may be shouting.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Seeing Fame in Changsha

A bit of fame I saw Saturday night in Changsha:

young man wearing shirt with "FAME 08" on the back with a young woman

A bit of Fame I didn't see (or hear) Saturday night in Changsha:

[on YouTube]

In fact, I have never seen dancing like that (it really gets going just after one minute into the video) any night in Changsha. I have seen other styles of choreographed dancing here, though, including at the previously described pole dancing school. More about the non-pole style of dancing I have seen, often as part of mobile phone promotions, another time.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Shooting Rubber Covered Pockets of Air in Hengyang

On nights in May and June last year, I often saw people shooting balloons set up by various game operators at a multileveled riverside area in Hengyang.

young woman and man shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

several people shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

two people shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

three young women shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

And on one occasion, I saw people taking a creative, if not riskier, approach to the game.

two men shooting balloons from the side at night in Hengyang, China

When I returned to Hengyang this month, I saw that the balloon shooting remained a popular activity.

shooting balloons at night in Hengyang, China

Thanks to several friendly conversations last year, one of the game operators even recognized me and provided a hearty welcome back.

Like some sunken boats, the game was something that hadn't changed much in Hengyang over the past year. Though as one game operator set up for the night, I noticed a type of change common in Hengyang underway across the river.

woman setting up balloons to shoot with tall buildings under construction in the background

Friday, January 16, 2015

Activities At Scenic Chaotianmen: Outdoor Karaoke

At the scenic Chaotianmen docks in Chongqing yesterday, I saw two men setting up a portable karaoke system in front of a scene which has changed significantly during the past 6 years.

man setting up a portable karaoke station at Chaotianmen.

Elsewhere at the docks, I saw another man showcasing his karaoke offerings as well.

man singing at a temporary karaoke station on the steps at Chaotianmen Dock.

Nearby on the steps, I spoke to two college students visiting from Xi'an, China, wearing newly purchased flower headbands.

two Chinese female college students wearing flower headbands

When I later walked by the same area again, the students were the first paying customers I saw at the temporary karaoke stations.

female college student singing karaoke outdoors at Chaotianmen Docks

For singing two songs, they paid 10 RMB (about US $1.60).

Activity at the outdoor karaoke stations may have picked in the evening when people come for river cruises to take in more of the city's rapidly evolving skyline lit up at night.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dance Dance Revolution from Shanghai to 1812

Dance games similar to Dance Dance Revolution are popular in many video arcades I have seen in China. An arcade in the trendy underground D Mall in Shanghai has several. When I took a look today, most were in use, and some had people sitting in a row of chairs waiting to play.

people playing a dance video game in D-Mall in Shanghai

people playing dance video games in D-Mall in Shanghai

girl wearing a face mask playing Dance Evolution at D-Mall in Shanghai

Dancing games aren't my thing, so I didn't jump in. But recently a new online version of Dance Dance Revolution caught my interest.

screen shot from Dance Dance Revolution: 1812 Overture Edition

As described in Classic FM:
Ever wanted to be in the percussion section of an orchestra for the epic final bars of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture? Who wouldn't? All those firing cannons, thundering drums and crashing cymbals are just fantastic. Not to mention the full orchestra and rapturous audience in front of you.

The viral news site Us vs Th3m has created a game that lets you control the greatest percussive cacophony in music history.
I am not convinced the 1812 Overture is the greatest percussive cacophony in music history, but it makes a great choice for the game. Given my musical training, at first I found it odd I wasn't able to achieve a perfect score. The excerpt is not unusually difficult compared to other classical music, and the game allows a far greater degree of rhythmic freedom than most conductors would deem acceptable. After focusing on the music instead of the screen, I realized the visual cues, which aren't the way I am used to reading music, were sometimes causing me to hit the keys more quickly than the actual rhythms. So I tried playing more "by ear". My performance immediately improved, and I found 1812 glory. Perhaps there are some interesting perceptual/cognitive/motor issues to explore.

Whatever the case, you can play "Dance Dance Revolution: 1812 Overture Edition" here. Bonus points if you can explain how it is possible to score higher than the perfect score of 1812*.

* I have scored 1844, and see others have as well, but not sure how. I suspect it involves the series of triplets in the cymbal crashes.

Friday, June 6, 2014

An Expiring Deal with a Changing Chinese People

In "For Tiananmen leader, a permanent exile" Ananth Krishnan's interview of Chinese dissident Wu’er Kaixi touches on a deal the Chinese government made decades ago:
Despite the two decades of unprecedented growth in China since 1989, [Wu’er Kaixi] believes the Party will face growing calls for political reform and anger against rising corruption — the same two demands that propelled protests 25 years ago.

“They struck a deal with the Chinese people in 1992 to give people a certain degree of economic freedom in exchange for political submission. That was a lousy deal because both economic freedom and political freedom is something that, to begin with, the Chinese people are entitled to. But this deal is also expiring. Once you give people economic freedom, they will become a little bit more powerful and they want more freedom. Because they want to be able to protect the money they made, they want rule of law, fair competition.”
In "Tiananmen, Forgotten" Helen Gao shares what it has been like for some to grow up under that deal:
[In] the post-Tiananmen years, life was like a cruise on a smooth highway lined with beautiful scenery. We studied hard and crammed for exams. On weekends, we roamed shopping malls to try on jeans and sneakers, or hit karaoke parlors, bellowing out Chinese and Western hits.

This alternation between exertion and ennui slowly becomes a habit and, later, an attitude. Both, if well-endured, are rewarded by a series of concrete symbols of success: a college diploma, a prestigious job, a car, an apartment. The rules are simple, though the competition never gets easier; therefore we look ahead, focusing on our personal well-being, rather than the larger issues that bedevil the society.
And in "The economic backdrop to Tian'anmen" Rob Schmitz highlights how even though people may want a new deal, whether because they feel "left behind" or a "little bit more powerful", people whose life has been more "like a cruise on a smooth highway" can have concerns about possible changes:
University of California’s Jeffrey Wasserstrom says 25 years later, with China’s economy now slowing down, there are signs the Chinese people want to renegotiate this deal – it’s no longer clear that making more money is an option. "Now I think there’s a sense that if you’ve been left behind, maybe you’ll be permanently left behind," says Wasserstrom. "And also, with the rising concern with issues like food safety, and heavy polluted air and water, I think it’s not so clear to people anymore that they can assume their children will live better lives than they did."

"People are angry, but people are worried that if something changes, would anything get better?" asks University of Michigan's Mary Gallagher. "I don’t think people in China have much confidence in democracy right now, and looking around them they may feel particularly people in the cities and people in the middle class may feel that democracy could end up even worse. It’s a much more segmented society, and people who are wealthy and who are middle class have much more to protect. And when they think about democracy, they think about majority rule. And I think majority rule is scary to them."
These excerpts together tell a story which resonates with what I have learned in China. In the future, I will share some thoughts on some of the seeming contradictions and important issues they raise. But for now, I simply recommend reading the pieces by Krishnan, Gao, and Schmitz. They each have their own story to tell about China 25 years after June 4, 1989.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Buggy Experience on a Zhanjiang Student's Mobile Phone

At Guangdong Ocean University in Zhanjiang, I met a student who on her own initiative showed me a photo on her mobile phone.

iPhone displaying a photo of a bug walking across English text

The photo contrasted with a Starbucks photo I saw several days earlier about 1 hour away on a Zhanjiang Normal University student's phone.

Starbucks and a bug are two genuine experiences Zhanjiang students' captured with their mobile phones. On the surface such photos can seem very different, but what they hold in common at deeper levels can be more revealing.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Starbucks Experience on a Zhanjiang Student's Mobile Phone

While meeting the students at Zhanjiang Normal University who, to varying degrees, were cleaning up a grassy area, I saw that one student's mobile phone had a notable image prominently featured.

female Chinese university student holding a Samsung mobile phone displaying a photograph of two drinks in Starbucks cups

I found it notable partly because Zhanjiang does not have any Starbucks stores. But the photo represents a genuine Starbucks experience, something I suspect both the student and Starbucks appreciate, and she took the photo at one of the many Starbucks in Shenzhen, where her family lives.

At least for the moment, the photo likely sets her apart from many other students at her university. But soon they and the girl I saw wearing the Starbucks Gangnam Style shirt will have more of an opportunity to have their own genuine experience when a new Starbucks opens in Zhanjiang. I would not be surprised if the occasion leaves a mark on many other mobile phones.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Non-Voluntary Volunteer Work at a University in Zhanjiang

On a large grassy area between several classroom and dormitory buildings at Zhanjiang Normal University, one group of students happily posed for a photo:

Part of their happiness may have been due to me offering them an excuse to take a break from their "volunteer" work of cleaning the area. The quotes are used because "volunteer" was their initial word for it, and they later explained that the work was a university requirement for freshman students. At other universities in China, I have seen freshman students engaged in similar required activities. It is supposed to be more about instilling certain values than providing the university free labor.

One of the students emphatically explained that she "really, really, really" didn't want to be doing the work. I can't say I was surprised, since I had earlier observed that few of them seemed very engaged in cleaning and several of them simply stood in the middle of the grass holding still brooms while engaged in other activities, usually involving a mobile phone. In the next post, I will share what I saw on one student's mobile phone. It ties back to an earlier post about Zhanjiang and suggests what she and probably some others would rather have been doing than sweeping the grass.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Science Labs at Zhanjiang Normal University

Today at Zhanjiang Normal University in Zhanjiang's Chikan district I stopped by a Colloid and Surface Chemistry Lab:

a Botany Lab:

a Chemistry Measurement Lab:

a Food Nutrition Lab:

and an Environment-Friendly Polymers Lab:

The last photo includes a prominent hint of one of the reasons behind my visits to these labs. My main reason to share the photos here, though, is to simply provide yet another look at China.

This probably concludes the science lab portion of the tour, but I will later share other scenes from Zhanjiang Normal University while touching on issues such as creativity and Western brands in China.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Starbucks Gangnam Style Arrives Before Starbucks in Zhanjiang

According to an outdoor promotional video at a new mall under construction, the first Starbucks in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, will soon open. But already one can see signs of Starbucks here.

back of a t-shirt with a Gangnam Style Starbucks logo

Possibly inspired by a modified cup, this Gangnam Style Starbucks shirt isn't sold at Starbucks, even in China. However, like the girl in the photo, you can buy it on Taobao. After a quick search, the lowest price I saw is 9.9 RMB (about U.S. $1.60), though a more typical price seems to be around 20 RMB.

With disappointment in her voice, the girl told me she has never been to a Starbucks. She perked up when I told her about the soon-to-open store. I wonder if she knows her Starbucks drink might cost more than her shirt.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Yangjiang Kiss

When I meet people, even if briefly, I often ask to take their photo. Sometimes, as with these teenagers in Yangjiang, there are unexpected results:

Two of four teenagers in Yangjiang, China, kiss while posing for a photo.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Connected Balancing

To continue the "balance" theme in the previous post, here is a scene including some wobbly, connected planks at Fung Tak Park in Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong:

people playing on a row of wobbly connected planks at Fung Tak Park in Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong

The boy on the right joined uninvited and discovered balancing on these planks is especially challenging for two people at the same time.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Healing and Hugs in Taipei

If you are looking to get over a failed relationship, some help can now be found in Taipei. As reported in Want China Times (via Shanghaist):
Hundreds of people flocked to an exhibition, centered on failed relationships and their ruins, in downtown Taipei Saturday to take part in a hugging event that organizers hope will heal locals who have experienced broken relationships.

The visitors, mostly young girls, held cards reading "Can I hug you?" or "Can you hug me?" during the event, in which strangers are expected to share stories about their previous relationships.

Organizers of the exhibition, titled Museum of Broken Relationships, also had an elephant mascot on standby for those who were too shy to ask for hugs from humans.
The exhibition began in Croatia and according to its website:
The Museum of Broken Relationships grew from a traveling exhibition revolving around the concept of failed relationships and their ruins. Unlike ‘destructive’ self-help instructions for recovery from failed loves, the Museum offers a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation: by contributing to the Museum's collection.

Whatever the motivation for donating personal belongings – be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity – people embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony. Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect. In the words of Roland Barthes in A Lover's Discourse: "Every passion, ultimately, has its spectator... (there is) no amorous oblation without a final theater."
If you are interested in attending, the exhibition will remain in Taipei until September 1 (details here).

The news about the hugging reminded me of an experience I had in Taipei in April. While walking around a popular shopping area, I met five friendly people.

5 youth in Taipei holding signs reading 'Free Hugs Share Your Love'

They held signs declaring "Free Hugs -- Share Your Love", and I hugged everyone. There was no mention of failed relationships. Instead, they said their goal was raising money for a children's charity.

Both events were remarkable to me since Taiwan was a bit more "conservative" regarding hugging when I first stayed there over 10 years ago. So even when the The Museum of Broken Relationships leaves Taipei, a variety of opportunities may remain for hugs in Taipei. Finding an elephant to hug might be harder though.