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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010


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    [post_content] => Afterspending an amazing week with the mekong semester in Lao and areunionwith my homestay family in Ban Xiang Mene I got back to Kunming on Friday. Chilling in Kunming for the weekend, I caught up on some much needed sleep after our 24 hour sleeper bus (were sleeping was not really accomplished) and met back up with the group and John. I pack my bags and yesterday night got on a 8 hour train to theAncientCity of Lijiang. After a great sleeper train (much better than the bus) I caught a mini bus to the watershead area of Lashihai where I meet up with my boss from Yunnan Eco Network at their Green Education Center. I havesettledin here and am awaiting an exciting week in this beautiful place and preparing for the arrival of the Mekong semester.
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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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Safely in Lijiang

Chris Megrue,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Afterspending an amazing week with the mekong semester in Lao and areunionwith my homestay family in Ban Xiang Mene I got back to Kunming on Friday. Chilling in Kunming for the weekend, I caught up on some much needed sleep after our 24 hour sleeper bus (were sleeping was not really accomplished) and met back […]

Posted On

04/19/10

Author

Chris Megrue

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After traveling in South East Asia for three months last fall on Dragon’s Mekong trip I began to appreciate the art of Traditional Medicine. Now back in Asia, after living here for 2 months I see Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) being practiced often. Although it is widely recognized around the world, I feel as if many westerners approach it with preconceived myths and hesitation about its effectiveness.

In today’s world of scientific proof, I empathize with those who approach it skeptically trying to grasp the ideas with no explanation of why. However, I must say that I am a first hand believer of what it can accomplish. When I had a cold I went to get cupped and the next day the cold was gone, when my back flared up from a previous injury, acupuncture relaxed me. Although I completely believe in effectiveness of TCM, I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts. The idea of energy points throughout the body that effect other parts with no logical reason is hard to understand.

Through out my treatments I try to meditate, feeling the energy flow though my body in a systemic way that they say it does. When an anion is put on a qi line of the body, the body focuses itself to deliver energy more effectively than before. Don’t ask me how, I have no idea about how it works, but I can balance better and am stronger as each muscle is contracting at their full potential working together.

TCM in conjunction with meditation is an out of body experience. While being cupped I feel as if I am floating above the table and at times I am mentally disconnected from my body, observing as a third person from above. The 20 needles or so that are inserted are so small that they can’t be felt piercing the skin however, when precisely placed the surge and flow of energy tricks the body into a natural reaction of healing. The result is something that I cannot begin to describe. The hour and a half that I am on the table feel as if it was 10 min.

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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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TCM

Chris Megrue,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

After traveling in South East Asia for three months last fall on Dragon’s Mekong trip I began to appreciate the art of Traditional Medicine. Now back in Asia, after living here for 2 months I see Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) being practiced often. Although it is widely recognized around the world, I feel as if […]

Posted On

04/17/10

Author

Chris Megrue

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Photoessay from 峨山 (Eshan) | April 5, 2010
This weekend, I embarked on a roadtrip across Yunnan with my homestay family. I visited their hometown, 甸中 (Dian Zhong), and 峨山 (Eshan), as well as other varied and interesting locations around southern Yunnan provence such as Fuxian Lake and Yuxi.
On Monday, we visited Li Ten Thousand Clouds' tomb, on a hill outside Eshan. Li Ten Thousand Clouds is my grandfather, on my mother's side. He came with us to inspect the progress on the tomb he will share with his wife, who was too tired to make the climb. I later showed her these photos, and she was thoroughly pleased.
We arrived at the unnamed mountain sometime after lunch, and all the family came along.
The following text is the transcript of the image captions, provided for accessibility. I composed my images because the Dragons website limits caption length.
The tomb is a handsome structure of dressed stone masonry with an ornate facade and inscribed monument. I have blurred the inscription, as it is bad luck to show a headstone before its owner has passed.
Grandfather 李万云 (Li Wanyu; Li Ten Thousand Cloud)

Grandfather appraises his tomb. He came over to me after I took this picture. He prodded the stone, then pointed to himself, smiling, and asked me if I thought the tomb was good to look at. I told him, “非常好看” (Fiechang hao kan; It's extremely good looking) and patted his shoulder. He laughed.

It was extraordinary to see an old man smiling next to his own tomb. Few in the United States contemplate death, much less visit their future resting places.

The view from the tomb. It's a beautiful resting place, high on a hill above Eshan. A cool breeze blows through the pine grove. 靳取 (Jin Qu), my homestay brother, says the panoramic view is auspicious.

The construction will be complete by the time you read this, and the cement slab in front of the grave, where visitors kneel and leave offerings, will by drying in the Yunnan heat.
The workers have brought a rooster with them to "dissipate evil spirits." Jin Qu: “In ancient china, rooster was regarded as mark of deity, so rooster is the ghost-killer.”

I've been told the Han chinese aren't religious, but I think it depends where you look.

My family: Grandfather 李万云, Father 靳翠才, and Mother 李继萍

Jin Qu and Father toss water bottles to each other. This is not a sober occasion.

The buildings here have been torn down by the government because they were too old. The brick is being stacked so it can be sold or used in construction of new buildings.
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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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Visiting the Tomb of Li Ten Thousand Clouds

龙子杰 (Long Zi Jie; Dragon Outstanding Son),China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Photoessay from 峨山 (Eshan) | April 5, 2010 This weekend, I embarked on a roadtrip across Yunnan with my homestay family. I visited their hometown, 甸中 (Dian Zhong), and 峨山 (Eshan), as well as other varied and interesting locations around southern Yunnan provence such as Fuxian Lake and Yuxi. On Monday, we visited Li Ten […]

Posted On

04/7/10

Author

龙子杰 (Long Zi Jie; Dragon Outstanding Son)

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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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Great public speakers in Toastmasters Club

Alyssa Li,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Our interns has been making great efforts in giving good quality speeches at the Toastmaster International Club meetings in Kunming, I am really proud of them!

Posted On

04/4/10

Author

Alyssa Li

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Reading a Menu, it is something that I take for granted at home. The simple thing that I need to do at least 2 times a day is always an adventure. Learning some basic characters is where I started. For example 肉 (rou) is meat. However, it gets a lot more complicated after that determining whether it is innards, pieces, strips or even possibly feet of the selected meat. However, although I can guess most of the time about what I am ordering I am never quite sure about what will hit the table.

However, China has a very defined dinning experience with certain types of dishes that are necessary to a meal. The waitress, although most of the time pushing me to hurry up, is very (extremely is more appropriate) helpful in ordering. Knowing exactly what we should get and what we are missing normally says 你要汤么? (ni yao tang me?) or do you want soup, noticing that we are missing a soup. When asked what type of tofu dish they have “ni you shen me do fu me?” (你有什么豆腐么) she will rattle off seven to eight different dishes; I usually pick the 3rd and try to remember the name so if I like it I can recognize it for the next time.

One thing that I have become accustomed to, and which I can imagine will test my patience when I get back to the states, is the service time. Here’s a break down:

0 min 00 sec- arrive in restaurant and greeted by waitress

0 min 15 sec- seated at table

0 min 20 sec- menu brought by second waitress

0 min 22 sec- waitress taping her foot waiting for you to order

1 min 00 sec- after scanning the menu, start asking questions and ordering

2 min 00 sec- waitress realizes that you take a long time, gives the order so far to the kitchen

3 min 00 sec- finish ordering, waitress leaves

3 min 20 sec- waitress brings the first 2 dishes

4 min 00 sec- after asking three times the rice lands on the table

4 min 30 sec- all six delicious dishes are on the table

Not only is the service incredible, but the food is amazing too. I can walk into a random restaurant (one that I would not even think of going into in the states) and it will serve amazing food above all my expectations. There are fresh ingredients everywhere and occasionally I get a plot twist with vegetables that I have never seen before.

And the cherry on top: 6 dishes for under 15 dollars.

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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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Reading a Menu

Chris Megrue,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Reading a Menu, it is something that I take for granted at home. The simple thing that I need to do at least 2 times a day is always an adventure. Learning some basic characters is where I started. For example 肉 (rou) is meat. However, it gets a lot more complicated after that determining […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

Chris Megrue

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On Tuesday I heldthe first of hopefully manyNarcotics Anonymous meeting at a small treatment center in Kunming called Sunshine Homeland, where I work . The center also treats AIDS patients and ex-prostitutes, andcan only continue to operate because many of the people whoare patients at the facilityalso volunteer. The one paid employee has administrative experience with disease prevention programs, but little to no knowledge of how to treat addiction. I figured I can help best by providing knowledge on recovery, mainly through the Narcotics Anonymous program.

I had a lot of expectations beforehand because I have been attending 12-step meetings for 21 months. I also spent 6 of those months between two treatment centers. The 12-step community is like my extended family and there is no place that I feel safer and more comfortable than with my fellow members. I wanted to start this meeting not only to help my fellow addicts but also to keep my own sanity during my stay in China. I figured this meeting would be like coming home. China had other ideas in mind!

In China, the idea of giving proper attention to drug addiction is still in infancy. Prison is currently the main institution for drug rehabilitation. One recovering addicttold me the provincial government in Yunnan hadrecently began reinforcing their anti-drug policies. He said the number of incarcerated drug addictsin just oneKunming prisonhas increased to as many as 4,000.In addition,the police stationed nearby the only established NA meeting in Kunming (and all of Yunnan)are instructed to arrest as manydrug addicts asit takes to meet a designated quota. This recent crack-down has discouragedsomedrug addicts who are still usingfrom coming to the NA meeting, even though they have a desire to get "clean" (off drugs).When I went to that meeting, their numbers were down 70%, leavingonly 4 of us in attendance- including myself.

Drug addiction is very taboo in today's culture in China. The ignorance and prejudices are very real and serious. For example, my homestay could potentially end if my family were to know my history. If they were made aware that I am a recovering drug addict they might not trust me enough to live in their home; despite my being sober for nearly 2 years, and being extrapolite and respectful.However,I can see that these fearsare probablyjustified considering the utterlack of knowledge and experience inrecovery.I imagine that, regarding drug addiction in Yunnan, the culture is similar to America in the early 1960s when NA wasstruggling to establish itselfin and around the Los Angeles area in California.

I came to Sunshine Homeland with Alyssa (to act as translator)prepared to discuss Step 1.Iwasvery nervous.While NAoffers their books and informational literature in 36 languages, Chinese is still in the process of being translated. The World Services Office generously offered to send me the parts they have completed, but for this meeting I had to carry on without it. To ask Alyssa to completelytranslate Step 1 into Chinese would be an exercise in pain tolerance for her; and if I decided to wait for the translations to arrive I would lose precious time because lack of funding and staffing, whichprovidesus onlyone meeting a week.

Essentially, Iacted as the sole voice of NA's Step 1, with Alyssa trying her best to translate with the hope of not losing too much of the content. There was roughly 10 of us in attendance. For the first half of the meeting I went through thetext describing what I believed were the most important aspects of the step. Some people seemed interested and others acted the same asmany Chinese do in these situations,staring blanklyand probably thinking, "What is this foreigner doing here?" The second half went better because Alyssa suggested that I ask them to share their thoughts.

At first no one wanted to speak. I was empathetic; this was not a typical meeting.Ask any addict and they will tell you they haveproblems trusting people. It took me my first 6 months of sobriety before I trusted people enough just to sharehow I was feeling. I can't imagine telling two complete strangers my experiences with powerlessness and unmanagability. However, that is the miracleof the program. They had built such strong relationships in their common struggles that once one member spoke, everyone followed suit. Each person told their story. I was very moved by the experience. I found out that most of the addicts present had between 2 and 7 years of "clean time" (time off drugs). Each story shared a common thread; while they could not stop using on their own, together they had been mostly successful at Sunshine Homeland. Theysaid they were like a family and it gave them hope for the future.

The meeting was successful in thataddicts were helping other addicts -a keyaspectof the program. However, the language and cultural barriers are exceedingly challenging. There is much to learn from thatexperience, and much to prepare for the next meeting when we willtalk aboutSteps 2, and 3. I only hope that I can help them as much as they are helping me!
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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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Recovery in Kunming

John Anderson,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

On Tuesday I heldthe first of hopefully manyNarcotics Anonymous meeting at a small treatment center in Kunming called Sunshine Homeland, where I work . The center also treats AIDS patients and ex-prostitutes, andcan only continue to operate because many of the people whoare patients at the facilityalso volunteer. The one paid employee has administrative experience […]

Posted On

03/31/10

Author

John Anderson

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Censorship in America it is something that we take for at face value, intrinsically bad. Living here in China for the past 5 weeks I have seen my fair share. However, throughout my time here I have heard people like JJ, a US navy expat who we had talk to us about the history and changes in China, argue that censorship is necessary for the existence of a peaceful China. I was taken back when he started describing his views and ideas about the necessity of censorship. It challenged my American values and beliefs. Trying to open up my mind to approach the idea that censorship is “moral and necessary” was making my head throb. JJ argued that anarchy would reign if the government did not censor the media as China has such a large and diverse group of people. Right now, an entire province where people rioted for days, killing hundreds of people, is under tight supervision. Almost a year after the riots, only 20 tightly controlled websites are available. Email and international calls are prohibited and each person is only allowed to send only 20 text messages a day. Does this lack of information actually secure peace and quorum? If people could email would that cause more riots? Many like JJ say yes.

"I want to ask you a question,” my boss said on the way to work yesterday. "You don't have to respond. However, if you choose to do so, please say what you truly believe. Don't give me the American government's stance" I laughed a bit and agreed. “So what do you think about Tibet?” he said. I was taken back. One of the first things I was taught about cultural appropriateness in China is to never talk about or mention Tibet, Japan, or Taiwan. The fact he brought it up to me threw me on my heels. I told him my honest opinion. I believe that Tibet deserves meaningful autonomy, and the Chinese government’s suppression of Tibetan's culture and beliefs is unjust. Unfortunately, I we had to leave before I could get his opinion. However, I asked my boss’s assistant, Mei, what she thought. She understood some of my points but disagreed with a few, saying that China developed Tibet pulling them out of a society where they “lived in caves and only had animal skin over their privates.” Shocked, I agreed that China gave them the opportunity to develop but asked her why she thought that local authority would be bad. “Well,” she said, “if they are allowed to govern themselves then they will look down upon the lower people in society and suppress them animals.” Censorship, I thought. She admitted how there was not much information about the subject in China but she firmly believes that they would treat people like animals if they were allowed to rule themselves.

Propaganda and censorship is all around me, and I can often see the effects of it. However, when I address these topics I have to be very careful to be understanding to the Chinese viewpoint and not offensive. I always mention just how bad America is as well. If you don’t think that the government represses a minority go visit some Native American reservations in the southwest. And if you think that America does not have censorship just go ask for some “classified” files on the Vietnam and cold war. The government argues that they keep these files “top secret” for maters of national security, 30 years later. The US is in no way a model country, and American citizens have no right to criticize other nations for policies that actually exist in the US as well. US citizens rallying for a free Tibet are actually hurting the Tibetans cause. The Dali Lama and Tibetans are not, and have not been calling for an independent Tibet; the fact of the matter is it would NEVER happen. When people are rallying behind causes that don’t actually exist, i.e. a free Tibet, the Chinese government feels threatened and thus names the Dali Lama an “international terrorist,” making his job to conduct peaceful negotiations that much harder.

Throughout my travels I have found that the Chinese government has “brainwashed” 1.4 billion people with successful censorship and propaganda. However, thorough realizing this I have had to reflect on my own country I have realized how hypocritical we are. I hope that through this experience I can further realize my own lens and bias so that in the future I can approach subjects with an open mind.

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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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Censorship

Chris Megrue,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Censorship in America it is something that we take for at face value, intrinsically bad. Living here in China for the past 5 weeks I have seen my fair share. However, throughout my time here I have heard people like JJ, a US navy expat who we had talk to us about the history and […]

Posted On

03/26/10

Author

Chris Megrue

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Journal Entry fromDe Hang |February 20,2010
After each step, I looked up. The steps appeared to be falling off, just ahead. Then Chris would raise his light and more of those small cliff faces would swim out of the darkness. The hike up was physically strenuous, but that wasn't what made it difficult. What made it hard was that I always thought we were about to arrive; that I'd be able to take off my pack and set up my tripod.

When we finally reached the last step, a sheltering roof structure loomed out of the darkness. The ground dropped off into the inky blackness at the edges of the paved cement floor. Trees reached up the slope covering the view to the east. So, we climbed up onto the roof of the shelter. There we had a convenient little crow's nest, and there we sat, waiting for Mr. Sun to make his daily appearance.

A sunrise is a wondrous thing. My wonder at the careful coincidence that is our universe is renewed every time I see one. Photons produced years ago escape the dense mass of the sun and travel eight minutes to reach the horizon in front of me. They slowly paint the sky blue as the earth turns towards (my) new day. Some of these little little things bounce off the vault of the sky and make their way down to us, creating that eerie pre-dawn light. I squint to make out the plumb/level bubble on my tripod. My hands are stiff even with my gloves on, and I have trouble making delicate adjustments.

As the world's spin brings Dehang, its surrounding karst mountains, and me closer to our fusion friend, the mountains become clear through the morning mist. I stand still behind my lens and associated cluster of tiny mirrors and silicon, ready to capture (in vain) every moment. The sun and its surrounding mass of planets climb with surprising speed.

A tree's bare branch silhouettes against the coming dawn.

Behind me, I see that I'm not on the tallest peak as the sun's light crawls down a cliff face (Figure 1).

Clouds begin to catch the yellow light.

The sun peeks over the hills.

My finger fully depresses the shutter button.

Twenty minutes later, as we sit discussing our plans for the day, techno music begins to play as locals warm up before today's basketball tournament games.

I'm here so I can share my awe, my joy, my glee in the specatacle of a simple sunrise. I'm here because I want to know what the town looks like from above. I'm here because I want to be, and I chose to be.
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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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Sunrise

Jake Teton-Landis,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Journal Entry fromDe Hang |February 20,2010 After each step, I looked up. The steps appeared to be falling off, just ahead. Then Chris would raise his light and more of those small cliff faces would swim out of the darkness. The hike up was physically strenuous, but that wasn’t what made it difficult. What made […]

Posted On

03/21/10

Author

Jake Teton-Landis

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    [post_title] => A Lovely Day(快乐的一天)
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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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A Lovely Day(快乐的一天)

Miss Li and the Shuai Ge Conglomerate,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

Posted On

03/18/10

Author

Miss Li and the Shuai Ge Conglomerate

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As I sit here at a long maple wood table, gazing out onto the purple-tinted Green Mountains, trying to write a paper for a class, I seem to only think about one thing: Southeast Asia and China.

Jake + Chris,

Reading your yaks has been such a treat for me....I am thrilled to both see and read about what you have been doing (oh you know, meeting famous authors, learning other words besides zhen zao gao, etc). I am pretty sure the other 10 Mekong Manatees share my sentiments. Keep up the great, worldly work.

I am off to fix my citations...a task that shares the same level of excitement as watching Chinese Cricket fights.

Love,

your one and only personal trainer, Mindz.

p.s. Hi Stew.

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China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

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HI

Lady Mindy,China Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2010

Description

As I sit here at a long maple wood table, gazing out onto the purple-tinted Green Mountains, trying to write a paper for a class, I seem to only think about one thing: Southeast Asia and China. Jake + Chris, Reading your yaks has been such a treat for me….I am thrilled to both see […]

Posted On

03/9/10

Author

Lady Mindy

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