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Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16


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For our final excursion before we leave Kunming at the end of April, we have decided to go to Xishuangbanna, a Dai minority autonomous prefecture in the very south of Yunnan province. We’ll be staying there three days, arriving Saturday morning after a night bus from Kunming and returning Tuesday morning after having taken a return night bus. Below is our intended itinerary. We can’t wait to go and experience Xishuangbanna!

Friday March 18th:

Meet at the South Bus Station at 8pm having already eaten a 20 yuan stipend dinner. Depart from the station at 10PM.

Saturday March 19th:

Arrive at Xishuangbanna at 9AM. Take the bus from Jinghong to Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens. Spend the night at a small hostel outside of the park in Menglun village. Lecture on the Dai Minority by Natalie and Linda Saturday night.

Sunday March 20th:

Either A) Hike to Mangdian Waterfall through contact at the Meimei Café in Jinghong,  B) Visit the Single-Tree Forest in Daluo Town (home to a 230-foot-tall banyan tree!) outside of Jinghong. C) Check out the Manfeilong Village outside of Jinghong. Couple of hours personal time in the afternoon. Spend the night at the Hello Guest House in Jinghong.

Monday March 21st:

Scavenger hunt and reflection activity in Jinghong in the morning, optional trip to Dahuosi Temple in Jinghong in the afternoon. Approximately 10pm bus back to Kunming to arrive on Tuesday morning in the city.

Love from Bridge Year China

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Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

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Xishuangbanna Excursion Itinerary

Group Yak,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

For our final excursion before we leave Kunming at the end of April, we have decided to go to Xishuangbanna, a Dai minority autonomous prefecture in the very south of Yunnan province. We’ll be staying there three days, arriving Saturday morning after a night bus from Kunming and returning Tuesday morning after having taken a […]

Posted On

03/25/16

Author

Group Yak

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    [post_content] => As we wrap up our enchanting recharge week in the Himalaya foothill town of “Lashi Hai,” Bridge Year China departs on our first week of entirely student-directed travel. Below are our upcoming plans!

Saturday 2/13 – 7:00 AM departure from Lashihai on a bus from Lijiang, the neighboring city and China's largest domestic tourist site. We'll arrive around lunchtime at Qiao Tou, the base of our hike on the Tiger Leaping Gorge, and arguably Yunnan's most well-renowned trek.

Sunday 2/14 – Eight hour hike along the Gorge, ending at a homey hostel for a good night's rest.
Monday 2/15 – Wednesday 2/17 – Drive back to Qiao Tou to pick up our bags, then turn around for a bus ride to Shangrila. We'll spend the next couple of days soaking up China's most heavenly site, hoping to stay warm and catch a glimpse of the region's magical monkeys and snow covered peaks.

Thursday 2/18 – Sunday 2/21 – Thursday morning drive to Deqin, Yunnan's Tibetan border region. While there, we'll embark on a glacier hike and visit Feilai Si, a Tibetan tourist site and monestary. We're also toying around with the idea of hiking Baima Xueshan, or the White Horse Snow Mountain, which is home to hundreds of China's endangered species. On Sunday night, we'll take a 16-hour long night bus back to Kunming.

Wish us luck on our adventures, and have a happy happy Year of the Monkey!
Love,
BY China

 
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Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

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Student Travel Itinerary

Natalie Nagorski,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

As we wrap up our enchanting recharge week in the Himalaya foothill town of “Lashi Hai,” Bridge Year China departs on our first week of entirely student-directed travel. Below are our upcoming plans! Saturday 2/13 – 7:00 AM departure from Lashihai on a bus from Lijiang, the neighboring city and China’s largest domestic tourist site. […]

Posted On

02/16/16

Author

Natalie Nagorski

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    [post_content] => It was a chilly morning as I rolled out of bed, put on some jeans, and walked over to the chicken coop to collect that morning's freshly laid eggs. As I walked there, the baby water buffalo in the enclosure headed over towards me and began butting my legs with his head; I'm pretty sure he wanted me to pet him. After obliging the baby water buffalo, I handed the freshly collected eggs to my homestay dad and he began to fry up breakfast for us: himself, his son, and me.

Lashihai is a small village about a half an hour's drive from Lijiang, a major city in Yunnan province. It's home to the indigenous Naxi people, and will be our home for a week. We were struck with wonder as we approached the village for the first time; surrounded by mountains and bordered by a large lake, Lashihai is an absolutely beautiful place. The natural features and the instantly recognizable Chinese architecture blend to make the village emanate with tranquility and a sense of home.

We're lucky enough to be able to stay in this amazing place for the most important holiday of the year: the Spring Festival, the New Year of the lunar calendar. All across China, people are flooding home from cities to villages to spend time with their families, and Lashihai is no different. Every day, more people come home to spend the holidays with their loved ones.

After breakfast, the people of Lashihai spend time together, warming their hands by the fire, going to each others' houses, and preparing food together. On one special day, after eating a breakfast of fried glutinous rice patties dunked in sugar, our families brought a picnic up the mountain to the grave sites of their ancestors. There, they showed us how they honored those that came before them. First, they gathered pine needles and spread them out over the graves, making a base for the offerings. Next, they placed various kinds of food: meat, candy, fruit, and other things on the graves for the ancestors to eat in the next life. Groups of people walked around, lighting incense and putting it next to the graves, sprinkling alcohol and tea on the ground, and burning up paper money so the ancestors would be rich in their next life. Our families were sure to include us: I lit incense, set fire to the money, and laid out candy on the graves. The whole event was very lighthearted- lots of people laughing, drinking, and having a good time together. After the ancestors' needs were attended to, we ate a delicious meal, and then rested on the side of the hill, chatting and relaxing.

This excursion is not only special because of our proximity to Naxi rituals and customs, but because of the bonds we have made with our host families and the time we've spent with each other that we wouldn't have been able to in Kunming. Talking with my homestay dad is such a rewarding experience because of his infectious enthusiasm and gigantic heart. Though I don't understand most of what he says, as he speaks an amalgamation of the Naxi language and the local Yunnan dialect, it's always nice to watch some TV or warm our hands over the fire together as he teaches me snippets of the Naxi language or talks to me about life in the village. With my homestay brother, we've been able to spend time together playing soccer with the other village kids, Coby, and Alexander, as well as play some Chinese chess together. I'd learned the game while in Kunming, and fortunately enough, when I asked my homestay brother what he liked to do in his spare time, he said he liked to play chess, so we were immediately off to a good start. Besides my immediate host family members, it's been amazing to spend time with other members of the community. Many people are related in the village, so we're always going to each others' houses to eat and talk. As for the rest of my group mates, in Kunming itself, life can be hectic and it can be difficult to arrange times to hang out in the city. Here, we've been able to go down to the stunningly beautiful lake just north of the village, and talk about our experiences or just chat about whatever we're thinking about. Once, Alexander and I went at night to the lake, intending to read some books, but ended up talking for a few hours while gazing at one of the most spectacular night skies I have ever seen.

Staying in the village of Lashihai has been one of the most incredible experiences of our journey in China so far. It's provided a welcome break from our routines in Kunming, beautiful scenery, a chance to meet and bond with new people, and insight to the lives of one of the Chinese ethnic groups. We've been able to ride horses, go kayaking, and hang out as our families play mahjong together. I can't wait to see what the next few months in China bring!
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Ringing in the Chinese New Year

Ben Parker,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

It was a chilly morning as I rolled out of bed, put on some jeans, and walked over to the chicken coop to collect that morning’s freshly laid eggs. As I walked there, the baby water buffalo in the enclosure headed over towards me and began butting my legs with his head; I’m pretty sure […]

Posted On

02/16/16

Author

Ben Parker

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        Tomorrow, our group will set off for a weekend getaway in exotic Heijing Old Town, a speedy three hour train ride outside of Kunming in Lufeng County. Known for its restored old town that gives a visitor a bit of a taste of old China, Heijing is a well-regarded yet not overly-visited tourist spot. The goals for the weekend are twofold: First, we hope to rest up, and take a break from the busy city life of Kunming. Second, we hope to gain some experience handling our own affairs while travelling.
         These first two months in the city, we have been kept very busy by the combination of daily language classes, NGO work, homestay family time, and a wealth of opportunities available to us to engage with different communities in Kunming. This weekend will be a chance to step back from all that, relaxing in a laid back environment while we prepare to create our own schedules, which will kick into effect in December. Hopefully, we can use this opportunity to evaluate our priorities for the coming months, and how we want to best use our time during this weekend when there will be fewer ways to use our time.
         This weekend, we will also be assuming a far larger role in organizing our own travel than we previously have. Though the instructors, Jessie and Long Yun, chose the location (and did so wisely, many tout Heijing's natural beauty, pretty views, and old-school vibe), we are responsible for organizing our travel there and back and our accommodations during our stay, as well as finding nourishment during our stay in Heijing. On the whole, we're very excited for a fun weekend away, in which we can have ample time to reconnect as a group, gain leadership skills, and see a new, very different part of Yunnan Province.
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Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

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Preparing for our first weekend away

Group Yak,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

        Tomorrow, our group will set off for a weekend getaway in exotic Heijing Old Town, a speedy three hour train ride outside of Kunming in Lufeng County. Known for its restored old town that gives a visitor a bit of a taste of old China, Heijing is a well-regarded yet not […]

Posted On

11/13/15

Author

Group Yak

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image3 [101064] image2 [101062]
  "my brother is an ambidextrous tea picker" the sun dances off the beads of sweat on my brothers neck, mirroring the grace in his hands and I studiously try to imitate the instinct and mimic the method in his movement the sun beats down on my head and I feel suffocated; my clumsy hands do little to nurture the tree, to pick the tea (or better yet: pick the money?) but my brother: my brother is an ambidextrous tea picker. last night I looked upon the fullest sky of stars and in their twinkling lights I imagined: there at the top of a mountain I dreamed I might exist indistinguishable from the dying stars. it's quantum entanglement, the way I escape to the sky the way my brother lives with his tea as if they have known each other for so long that he has tea-telepathy. he has an indiscernible bond and I'm lucky to observe it if I could channel my envy I'd tune into Bangdong Radio 88.8 (all about tea tea tea) "breaking news from the top of the hill; the government decided to raise the price of red tea for the autumn season..." and in some burst of knowing I could entangle. I imagine a magical connection with the trees around me, a myriad of secret whispers darting out to me like synapses my brother is a machine of whirring hands, the automatic snaps as the tea leaves are picked filters to my ears in a melodious cacophony; I could never dream to have that fluidity, too caught up in the mechanics of the art. my mind whirs with "too small?" "leave it behind" "too old" "pick it anyway" until I focus on naught but a pinhole in front of me my hands morph unrecognizably, they are killers; every plant I touch is infected with my own cultural footprint it's my own human realignment I touch them and their life span is 2 weeks: the duration of my stay in this hideaway. an idea blooms in my head, mirroring the tea blossoms in front of me and I wish I could remove my hands gift them to my brother; a tangible contribution! a worthy reinforcement! but we pull off the tea blossoms before they seed I felt utterly helpless during my first days in Bangdong, our rural homestay of two weeks. During my first interaction with the family, I fell down nearly an entire flight of stairs (right after they’d told me to be careful not to slip). That interaction seemed to shadow me at first: I wasn’t allowed to help wash the dishes because “the water is too hot,” I wasn’t allowed to cut the peppers because “my hands couldn’t stand it” (as it turned out, I was grateful for that one—the spice from the red peppers would have caused my hands to sting), and I wasn’t allowed to help with any of the sweeping. I felt like a rainy day in Bangdong: lazy, with nothing to do. This feeling of helplessness translated over to tea picking, the only task I had been allowed to help with, which prompted me to craft the above poem as I worked. As I struggled to pick the tea, I felt like I was actively holding them back by picking the wrong tea leaves, picking slowly, and breaking off healthy branches. As a guest, how was I supposed to show my appreciation for their hospitality if I couldn’t help out at all? When I asked how to help, they told me to take care of my two little brothers. This was a daunting task: neither of them could really speak Mandarin, and I hadn’t lived in the household long enough to understand what they were allowed to do. In the end, my brother’s ended up running to their parents anyway; I think they were used to bugging them as they worked. I was stung—it hurt a little to think that I had been delegated a “useless” task. I’m the oldest child; I’m used to helping around the house, doing chores and watching out for my sisters. At home, I’m expected (and often yelled at) to help out with chores, and otherwise I understand what I need to do to make the household run smoothly. After meals, I tried desperately to help wash dishes; the bowls were taken out of my hands and I was shooed away to “去喝茶” (go drink tea). At this point, my discomfort transcended feeling helpless. In my family, drinking tea is a men’s thing. While the women take care of the children, do laundry, cook, do dishes, etc., the men relax at the table with their tea and cigarettes. Cigarettes are the town’s social lubricant—for the men. Any guy can come over and chill with a cigarette, while the women stayed out of the way, except to bring out snacks. As a woman, I felt like I couldn’t sit in on that social scene. Especially when guests are over, it’s much more comfortable to sit with the female contingent, but when both my aunt and my sister were in the kitchen and I’d been sent outside, I felt like my role was unclear. My family’s gender dynamic wasn’t as severe as some families’ at the top of the hill: my brother still took care of kids, my uncle swept the house, but ultimately my sister and aunt were the ones doing the brunt of the work. But my first assessment of Bangdong was hastily done (on this trip I’ve often found myself forming an opinion, only to completely reverse it a couple of days later). I was soon able to help more around the house. The rain let up, which opened up more chores to be done, and I (slowly but surely) squeezed my way into sweeping the floor in the morning and doing dishes. I grew accustomed to their idea of cleanliness, and went through my morning/bedtime routines feeling like I was “properly” clean. Tea picking became easier as well—I braved through the long hours in the heat, and practice allowed me to commit some of the picking to muscle memory. It was easier to identify which tea leaves should be picked; some re-grown tea leaves showed me that I was able to pick tea without killing the tree. Once I showed that I was able to contribute to the daily routine, I felt my role in the family change. I was no longer the stranger who “didn’t know how to wash her feet;” I had found a place where I felt comfortable living there. As I showed more interest in their lives and histories, they showed more interest in mine; our conversations, though stilted by the language barrier, had a charming fluidity that helped me relax into the calm, content rural lifestyle. I think it would be ambitious or arrogant to say that I felt like I was part of the family, but I really value the mutual understanding I built with them. I think a lot of my relationship with them is lost in translation, and I don’t think that every minute I spent with them was quality time; yet the sheer amount of time we spent in each others’ company, sitting or working quietly alongside each other, fostered this mutual appreciation. By the time I left I was no longer a burden, but merely a guest. 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my brother is an ambidextrous tea picker

Sofie Kim,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

  “my brother is an ambidextrous tea picker” the sun dances off the beads of sweat on my brothers neck, mirroring the grace in his hands and I studiously try to imitate the instinct and mimic the method in his movement the sun beats down on my head and I feel suffocated; my clumsy hands […]

Posted On

10/14/15

Author

Sofie Kim

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    [post_content] => I have had the opportunity to travel abroad in the past couple years to countries like Costa Rica and Peru. In my experiences abroad, I never had to worry about the language barrier because I spoke fluent Spanish. I was able to talk to locals about their experiences growing up and could easily navigate myself around town by reading street signs and asking around for help. In a group setting, my fellow classmates often relied on me to translate conversations with the locals or help them bargain for some souvenirs. The feeling of security from knowing the local language in my travels abroad did not carry over to my experience in China.

As soon as I was dropped off with my homestay family in Bangdong, I felt a jolt in my mood as my family only spoke Chinese; at the time all I could say in Chinese was hello. I had been separated from my groupmates who I had relied upon to translate and communicate phrases for me. As my new “Ayi”, or “Auntie”, showed me around her home and gave me what were probably basic introductions, I struggled to understand anything she was saying. It was then that it hit me how hard it would be to break through my newfound language barrier. I had underestimated the work it took to learn a new language and communicate with others. I stayed up late that night trying to memorize simple phrases to get to know my new aunt's family, daily schedule, and interests. I was determined to have a conversation that extended beyond a hello and a head nod of understanding.

The next morning, I put my sentences to use as soon as I walked into the kitchen, where my aunt was cooking breakfast. I was confident that I would be able to have a nice conversation with her over breakfast, but my plan was quickly foiled when I could not piece together her answers to my questions. This is where our grand game of charades began, where our communication began. For the next couple days we would fill in the gaps of language with motions; an added bonus was all the laughter that came with it. We developed a system where we would explicitly tell each other when we understood something and when we didn’t understand each other, using the simple phrases of “ming bai” and “bu ming bai”. I saw this as a conscious effort to understand each other and I became invested in communicating with her. We would pick tea together while listening to her favorite Chinese pop songs on repeat, and during our fruit breaks she would excitedly point at the flora and fauna that surrounded us, showing me how to say them in Chinese.

My experience in Bangdong allowed me to develop a better attitude to approaching life in a foreign country. In these several months to come, Kunming’s street signs (full of mysterious characters) and inevitable gaps in daily conversations no longer seem like intimidating obstacles, but rather opportunities to learn about the new environment that surrounds me one word at a time.
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Learning From Ayi

Linda Pucurimay,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

I have had the opportunity to travel abroad in the past couple years to countries like Costa Rica and Peru. In my experiences abroad, I never had to worry about the language barrier because I spoke fluent Spanish. I was able to talk to locals about their experiences growing up and could easily navigate myself around […]

Posted On

10/12/15

Author

Linda Pucurimay

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    [post_date] => 2015-10-09 11:34:57
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    [post_content] => I’m supposed to peel all my fruit before eating it? What do you mean, there’s a hole in the ground rather than a toilet? I shouldn’t drink the tap water here? When I first arrived in China a little over a month ago, a myriad of differences between my American ways and the new culture I was immersed in shocked me.

Though I’ve had a lot to get used to, there’s one thing that’s been heartwarmingly constant: the kindness of the people here. In Shaxi, a small town where we spent several days acclimating to China, I can still remember the friendly, amused look on an old shopkeeper’s face as she tried to teach us some words of her native Bai tongue. At the Shi Bao Shan temple as we hiked up to a smaller temple on the very top of the mountain, welcoming arms pulled us into tiny rooms filled with people joyously singing. My younger brother in Bangdong, where we spent several weeks with a host family, unfailingly handed out moon cakes, gum, and other assorted treats. Even back in the city of Kunming, the hospitality is just as strong as in the villages. Voices cried “Hello!” as I walked through Yunnan Da Xue, a major university in Kunming, and a lady invited me for a game of Mahjong as I walked through some gardens near a canal. Just a few days ago, as I was haplessly asking everyone I could for directions to a Buddhist temple somewhere in Kunming, an elderly Chinese lady took me by the arm, pushed me onto two different buses, and led me to the gates of the temple herself. When I tried to thank her for all her help, she waved away my thanks, and typed out directions on my phone so I knew how to get back home.

I’ve more or less gotten used to the toilet situation and some other social mores, but I know there’s a lot left for me to learn. Looking back on the kindness everyone has shown me so far, and knowing how many helping hands I’ll have, eager to teach me and proudly display the culture of China, I think I’m going to be just fine.
    [post_title] => Helping Hands
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Helping Hands

Ben Parker,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

I’m supposed to peel all my fruit before eating it? What do you mean, there’s a hole in the ground rather than a toilet? I shouldn’t drink the tap water here? When I first arrived in China a little over a month ago, a myriad of differences between my American ways and the new culture […]

Posted On

10/9/15

Author

Ben Parker

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    [post_date] => 2015-10-09 11:33:20
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    [post_content] => I can scarcely believe that I have been in China for an entire month. As my long-term service project grows nearer, I think it’s useful to think a little bit about service, particularly the reasons for service and the expectations we have of it. We just recently left Bangdong, a rural village that hosted us for two and a half weeks. We were there to experience village life and culture, and we also had group discussions about possibly doing a service project of some type in Bangdong.

When American students leave to do service in other countries, a lot of times we bring certain conceptions with us. “We’re here because these people need help. Their lives aren’t good. We, in the scant few days we have here, can make a difference in these people’s lives. We know exactly how we can help them.” The first day in Bangdong my homestay Ayi (Auntie) had to show me the correct way of washing dishes, because I was doing it incorrectly. It struck me: if I’m learning the proper way to clean bowls, a task I thought I’d mastered, how is it possible to know all the needs of a village and the proper way to implement solutions to those needs within a few days of entering the village?

Such a task is impossible to someone new at service, and to anyone not intimately acquainted with the village in question. Instead of going to places like Bangdong to fix people’s lives whether they like it or not, it seems to me that we should view this as an opportunity to put the learning in service learning. Instead of leaping right in with the answers to everything, take a moment, and see what the village is like. Do they need or even want help, first of all? What problems would they like fixed? Is it feasible to fix those problems with a bunch of enthusiastic yet untrained students?

For me, one of the things Bangdong allowed me to do was reflect on how to do service. After we all went around to our host families and asked them they thought needed some fixer-upping in Bangdong, they replied with some fairly large-scale answers: the education system was a bit lacking, it took a long time to get their kids to school, and the roads weren’t great.

In the future, we’ll gain the skills, knowledge, and experience to deal with large issues like ones our homestay families pointed out. Right now, we can simply observe, see what might need to be done, and take this experience to heart so our service can be effective when we have the tools later. For Bangdong, I’m delighted to see how the village works, how people’s daily lives are and to learn something of Bangdong’s culture. When we the volunteers see problems that need fixing in the future, we’ll be able to do so in a manner that’s both effective and harmonious with the lifestyle of the village. We don’t need to effect huge change and upturn people’s lives, just learn about how to help when help is wanted and how to be as uninstrusive as possible.

I might not be able to fix the roads of Bangdong, but I can talk to my Ayi while watching TV and while picking tea, dance with the people of Bangdong at festivals, and play guitar and traditional woodwind instruments with my Ayi’s son Zhuhong over a cup of tea. I can learn about Bangdong, and keep the culture in mind when doing service elsewhere.
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Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

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Learning How to Do Service

Ben Parker,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

I can scarcely believe that I have been in China for an entire month. As my long-term service project grows nearer, I think it’s useful to think a little bit about service, particularly the reasons for service and the expectations we have of it. We just recently left Bangdong, a rural village that hosted us […]

Posted On

10/9/15

Author

Ben Parker

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    [post_date] => 2015-10-05 11:17:07
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    [post_content] => My homestay older brother isn’t one for village life. He finds tea-picking boring, and when I asked what his favorite things to do were his father responded that he "doesn't do anything." Years before I met him, he'd tried to make a new life in Beijing but, overwhelmed and struggling to find a steady income, he returned home. Now 28, single, and jobless, it’s hard to see where his future can point other than the tea fields.

Over the past two decades, hundreds of millions of Chinese people with dreams that they couldn’t realize in their hometowns headed to the cities to work. Living standards have risen rapidly. For the educated particularly, this journey has become far easier as reforms to the hukou system, which registers someone's official area of dwelling, have enabled those with bachelor degrees or technical skills to qualify as official city dwellers instead of "migrants" with lack of access to government services. The government has even coined a new slogan, "The China Dream," to embody the ideal that individuals can and should dream big (for the good of nation, being the caveat).

Twenty years ago, it was far harder for a young resident of Banddong to dream of city life. But as development has rolled along, T.V.'s, smart phones, and the hundreds of millions who have completed the journey make migration to the city seem doable. As increasing numbers of those who were once my brother's classmates head to the city, making enough money to send some home to the city, I can't begin to imagine what it feels like to be left behind by this movement.

Significant income inequality didn't used to exist Bandong (or so I've been told). But with money flowing back from the city migrants, certain families have been able to buy tea driers and install WIFI, while some remain unable to buy a shower. It only seems natural that this would push my brother to have tried his hand at city life. But like many young Chinese rural dwellers, he discovered finding his "China dream" was harder than the current government ad campaign would make it seem. One young migrant worker in a documentary described his future "as like a black hole." The worker didn’t want to go back to his home, but the city wasn't offering him the improved life or interesting work he had been imagined. I don't know what my brother would have said if there wasn't such a strong language barrier, but I can only imagine it'd be similar.

It felt disempowering to be welcomed into his home without understanding what seemed to be a truly depressing situation, let alone being able to help him reach for something better. I'm privileged to have grown up with the feeling that the world is mine; that whatever dreams I might have I can pursue, and that any experience can be opened with enough hard work. I can't possibly imagine what my brother feels like as he is literally stuck in what I consider a stiflingly small home, removed from the fortunes being created by hundreds millions of Chinese people as the nation develops. I can only hope that as China develops, more and more people like my brother can be given the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and fewer will have to watch their days pass by smoking cigarettes on the porch where they were born but no longer want to live.

China's development and urban migration has lifted hundreds of millions out of abject poverty. Moreover, while the cities prosper, some make the personal decision to come back to their hometowns and try to rejuvenate local cultures, to the benefit of themselves and their neighbors. But for some, development has just enabled them to dream without providing the necessary means to pursue those dreams. Mao's old vision of a fully equal society has vanished, even in rural China. On the bright side, people like my brother can only feel locked in a bad place if a better life exists just out of their grasp. Presumably that better life will be opened to more and more people like my brother as development continues to roll on in China. But while it's easy to appreciate what China's development has done for many, it's important to remember those it leaves behind, unhappier than if they had never known there was a better life out there.
    [post_title] => Life as a Young Rural Chinese Boy
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Life as a Young Rural Chinese Boy

Coby Goldberg,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

My homestay older brother isn’t one for village life. He finds tea-picking boring, and when I asked what his favorite things to do were his father responded that he “doesn’t do anything.” Years before I met him, he’d tried to make a new life in Beijing but, overwhelmed and struggling to find a steady income, […]

Posted On

10/5/15

Author

Coby Goldberg

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    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2015-10-05 11:13:51
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-05 17:13:51
    [post_content] => Dear Grandma, Auntie, and Jiejie,

It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in Bangdong, but much longer than two weeks since I first met you. Ayi, Nainai, thank you for teaching me not only how to turn on the outhouse light and how to crack open walnuts without hurting my palms, but also how to communicate with people when I don't speak a word of their local dialect. I'm sorry my friends and I devoured so much fruit, I'm sorry I'd say "I'm so full" to your constant generous offers of food, and I'm sorry for keeping you awake waiting for me to come home when our group meetings ran late. Also, I'm fully aware that everything I tried to help you with, you knew you could have done it faster and better yourself; thank you so much for giving me the chance to work beside you regardless.

Jiejie, I really don't know how you didn't get tired of me after the first few days. However, harvesting and cooking peanuts, learning bits of your livelihood picking tea by your side, climbing persimmon trees to get to the ripest fruit, falling asleep watching movies together, getting caught in pouring rain while picking mushrooms... I'll never be able to forget all the small moments we spent together. You quickly and voluntarily became the person I learned to rely on for virtually all the questions and little problems I ran into during my time in Bangdong. Your incredibly open, silly, yet caring personality is something I hope to emulate in the future. I've always wondered what it's like to have an older sibling, and you are just about the best older sister I could have asked for.

Many things I thought mattered before now seem rather insignificant, but people who I had expected to merely coexist with under the same roof for two and half weeks now seem like kin. Thanks to you, I didn't feel rushed or out of place in a setting that could have otherwise easily made me feel culturally estranged and inadequate in language skill. Looking ahead to my next six months in Kunming, it's not difficult to see how fortunate I am that my first experience fully immersed in a Chinese community was with people as warm as you. If it isn't clear already, I miss you very much and hope that our paths will cross again—sooner rather than later. 我真爱你们!
    [post_title] => 再见 means "See You Again"
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再见 means “See You Again”

Soyeong Park,Princeton Bridge Year China 2015-16

Description

Dear Grandma, Auntie, and Jiejie, It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in Bangdong, but much longer than two weeks since I first met you. Ayi, Nainai, thank you for teaching me not only how to turn on the outhouse light and how to crack open walnuts without hurting my palms, but also how […]

Posted On

10/5/15

Author

Soyeong Park

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