As of late

We’ve been delinquent in keeping up our blog! This hasn’t been intentional, but is the result of our new load of school and work keeping us busy. Each of us has taken on some English teaching, which brings a whole new level of cultural exposure through our students’ conversation and writing. When a student writes openly about the effects of pollution on daily life (the stench of factories, toxicity of the water, and lung cancer), it reminds us that this isn’t the same picture of the Chinese people that comes through the American press. People here know that their country is far from perfect, and needs some real progress towards a better standard of life for all. But, it can be hard to push for some advancements like melamine-free milk, especially when the historical perspective is something like: “50 years ago millions of citizens died from starvation. Now you want every item on the food shelf to be certifiably sanitized?”

Life in a country with 1.3 billion residents brings some distinct challenges, and calls for a good measure of perspective and patience. In their defense, the Chinese like to point to America’s own period of development during the 19th century, where there were similar problems of disease, quality control, and living standards. In fact, we saw an article detailing the ‘Swill Milk’ scandal in New York that caused many infant deaths about a hundred years ago. The death toll then was even higher than the one here from the melamine. At least China has the benefit of modern medicine to ameliorate many problems that would have been life threatening just fifty years ago. Progress continues, but it will be awhile before it reaches every corner of this vast country.

Our Chinese speaking teacher continues to amuse. Her latest quip was about how female Chinese doctoral students don’t have a good chance of finding a husband. First, they are too old, nearly thirty. Second, they are not very pretty, because all they like to do is study. Third, women tend to marry up in status here, and it’s hard to find other men more accomplished than their own Ph.D’s. Not impossible, but definitely a challenge. This class has fast become our favorite since we get to discuss these issues and bring perspectives from the ten or so different countries represented in our class. It’s a mini world forum at times, and always promises some surprising perspectives on the ways of life we take for granted!

We’ll try to keep up the posts. Don’t abandon us!


2 Responses to “As of late”

  1. 1 mjfalk November 8, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Dear Loved Ones,
    Welcome back!!! Will have to refresh my grasp of history. Swill milk?
    Refrigeration. Homogenization.Nutrition and regulation. Exercise and lack thereof. Keep up the great work of balnce and understanding as you walk alittle in their shoes. Love Dad.

  2. 2 Becca November 9, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    She’s my favorite teacher too! I’m glad there’s an explination for my singleness in China as well as the states…although I’m just going into the medical field…not my PhD. ;o)

    Love ya and miss ya!

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November 2008
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