Written by Logan Brown (Middlebury College), CET Vietnam Immersion Spring 2010
This week at Asia Life Tom informed us that we were going to be doing a small feature article in the magazine about rice. The idea behind the feature is that despite the belief that rice is quite simple, there are actually many different kind of rice in Vietnam. You may have passed a stall at a market in Vietnam with many different baskets of rice and simply thought they were all of the same kind, however there are up to 24 different breeds of rice in Vietnam if you include hybrids. We did a bit of background research on rice in Vietnam and the importance of it culturally.
After some internet research we did some more tangible research and headed to the market on motor bikes with Tom and our translator Nam Quan. Nam is also 21 and works as both a photographer and translator for Asia Life. His English is incredible so he was very helpful when we interviewed a woman at a food stall about the many varieties of rice. We asked her simple questions, where the rice was from (the answer was not surprisingly always The Mekong Delta), when it is usually eaten, how much it costs, how it is prepared and if it is ever used for special occasions. Most of the rice looks quite similar so we marked our little samples of rice carefully so that the photographers could identify them more easily in their shoot. We then took pictures of the little bag so we could identify the rice and write about it during spring break. The rice was incredibly inexpensive. I found it most interesting that more than taste or preference; it is income that determines what type of rice Vietnamese eat on a daily basis. I had no idea that the cheaper rice comes from three-month harvests and more expensive rice comes from 6-month harvests. Although we did not taste the rice that we bought and researched I would love to have done a taste test and see if I can really taste a difference between the 3-month versus 6-month rice. It will be really fun when the feature comes out in the magazine. It will include a small introduction that Allison and I wrote together, all of the rice research we collected and photographs of the rice.
Click here (PDF) to download volume 26 of AsiaLife magazine, which includes Logan and Allison’s contribution on Vietnamese food as well as a short interview with CET visiting faculty member, Erin O’Brien.
News from the CET/C.V Starr Middlebury program in Kunming
Posted by Lisa Devine, Resident Director
Spring 2010 students visited a Kunming kindergarten. The kindergarten kids prepared dance performances for their foreign guest and in return School in China students taught the kids how to dance the hokie pokie.
Dianchi Sewage Water Treatment Center
Spring 2010 students taking the Environmental Studies class took a fieldtrip to the Dianchi Sewage Water Treatment Center to learn about what city government is doing to try to clean up Dianchi water. Dianchi is the third largest body of water in China, however, in recent years, industrial and sewage runoff has contaminated the water to the point where Dianchi water is no longer fit for agricultural use. The photos below are of a Spring 2010 student, Eric Olliff (of Berkeley), inspecting trash being filtered from Dianchi water and algae flourishing off of water pollutants just off the shore of the lake.
Daniel Riley of CET Academic Programs blogs about a May 2010 visit to Shanghai, China
As we were making our plans for the Shanghai portion of our visit to China, Jeremy Friedlein, the Director of the CET Shanghai program said that no matter what else we did while we were there, we had to see the Expo. He arranged tickets for us and it was really one of the highlights of our time in China. The Shanghai Expo 2010 has been the driving force behind the city’s modernization campaign for more than 7 years. The pace of change which it has sparked has been remarkable. In just the last three years 4 new metro lines have been added and whole roads have been diverted. I’m reminded of the contrast with the US where extending the metro from central DC to Dulles airport has taken the better part of 20 years and is still ongoing!
The Expo itself, what the US calls a World’s Fair, was on a scale to match China itself. It was huge! I spent more than 12 hours there and barely scratched the surface of what was available. More than 80 countries are represented as well as pavilions on city planning, corporate exhibitions and more. The centerpiece, towering above everything else is the China pavilion. Getting in requires a certain amount of dedication and a willingness to sacrifice a huge portion of your day. Entry to the China pavilion requires a reservation –
these are generally completely booked out within half an hour of the opening time of the park – and even with a reservation you can expect to spend up to 4 hours in line! We decided to focus our energies elsewhere and just admire this imposing and impressive piece of architecture from the outside.
One of the best parts of the Expo is the chance to sample genuine versions of local foods from the various countries. I stood in line for more than 15 minutes to get a warm stroopwaffel – a Dutch waffle cookie with a warm caramel syrup center – and it was just as good as those I had eaten in the Netherlands. From Malaysian curries to Belgian chocolates, there were taste treats from around the globe.
Posted by Amy Saurer, Resident Director for the CET/C.V Starr Middlebury program in Hangzhou
We were definitely impressed with the detailed lesson and discussion on living a low carbon lifestyle led by local elementary school students when we visited their school this week. They were happy to remind us not to use so many pairs of disposable chopsticks when we eat out, and that we should do more walking and less driving. Afterwards, we all headed outside for game time, where they schooled us in another environmentally friendly activity- jump rope!