Greetings CET community,
Check out this interesting article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, by recent grad, Andrew Dana Hudson (Fordham University), who explains how he explored opportunities outside the U.S. during the economic recession.
“It was a bit of a shock, losing all expectations. For years—all my life, really—parents, teachers, and guidance counselors had told me that if I went to a good college and did well, I would be able to find a job after graduation that would, with a little ladder-climbing, keep me comfortable and financially secure. After I graduated in May 2009, in political science, I moved back home to St. Louis to start my career, but there simply were no jobs to be found…”
“So I moved to India.”
Click here to read the rest of this article!
I got to carve my own seal last weekend! It came as a bit of a shock, as I thought I was only attending a lecture on ancient Chinese seal carving, but I definitely wasn’t complaining when they started passing out materials.
Though seal carving is an ancient craft, they’re still used today in China. For those of you who don’t know, seals are kind of like personal stamps (not the postal kind), they can have on them anything from your name to some sort of personal credo or insignia. You see them a lot on pieces of calligraphy. If your okay departing with a few RMB, you can easily have your own made while you’re here. Tourist destinations especially are loaded with booths offering “Your name in Chinese on seal”.
The materials we were given to carve our seal were a piece of paper for drawing out ideas and stamping, a stone onto which the designed was to be carved and a small chisel-like object for carving. Before we started, we got to check out some other student’s past works. Some were quite impressive. Intricate designs or complicated ancient forms of characters. Some were very backwards. It is important to remember that when carving your stamp you must carve it backwards so that the final product isn’t.
After going through several possible designs I settled on a very simple ancient rendering of my Chinese given name. It kind of looks like a man with a funny hat on. I decided simple was probably best seeing as I would be carving into a 1”x1” rock with a tool I’ve never used before. Also, my artistic development peaked at finger painting.
The carving portion of seal-making proved more difficult that it had sounded at first, and it had sounded extremely difficult. I was lucky in that my design was symmetrical so I didn’t have to carve it backwards, but I did have fine lines that didn’t always want to stay as fine as I would have liked.
After maybe half an hour my masterpiece was completed. I took it to the professor for final inspection. Having passed, my design was stamped out first in the book of past pupils, then on a sheet with this year’s class’s designs and finally on a sheet all my own. Though my seal looks kind of like it was carved by a toddler with blunt scissors, I am incredibly proud of it. It isn’t everyday or everybody that gets to carve their own seal and I wouldn’t trade it for a prettier one in a million years.
Today we went to the Laoshe Tea House. It is a very touristy destination, but it was nice because it provides a glimpse of an older entertainment era in China. Back in the day, people would go to the tea houses every night to watch a continuing drama be performed, or read, or go to enjoy music and friends’ company. So to show this old history, the tea house performed several acts including a magic show with colored silks, a kung fu demonstration, excerpts from Peking and Sichuan opera, an acrobatics act, and a really cool group performed with teapots and they danced in an interesting but hard to describe way.
They served us tea and some little snacks, like little spring rolls, roasted watermelon seeds, and some little tea cookies. It was a really beautiful place. This place is very famous, it even has a room dedicated to pictures of important foreign VIPs that have visited, including Henry Kissinger, Newt Gringrich, and George H.W. Bush.
Friday, Alice, Jackie and I hopped on the bus and then subway to get to Tiananmen, which was much easier than I thought it would be. The Forbidden City was so crowded, but really cool. It went on forever, but it was so hot that we stayed there for only 2 hours or so before crossing the street to Tiananmen. Doing a handstand in the Square earned me a fan club and I had to have my picture taken with several women, and then with one woman’s daughter. When we were leaving the Forbidden City this man behind me was touching my hair and comparing it to his wife’s. It seems she had dyed her hair a vaguely similar color. I don’t know what it was about the people or me, but I was a rockstar on that outing.
On our way back, the bus stalled out and practically broke down in the middle of the highway, but we made it back in time for calligraphy and wushu classes. They had been rescheduled for Friday night so we were a little busy. Calligraphy was better this time, he said we were doing awesome, mostly because he had given us worksheets that showed the stroke order so we could just practice those while listening to Chinese music. Wushu was fun too, though we were outside and covered in sweat. I was sure my muscles would feel it the next day.
Saturday morning we got up bright and early (actually, it was foggy/polluted and early) and hopped on a bus to the Summer Palace. This was our student/roommate planned outing so tickets and the lunch we enjoyed afterwards were program expenses. The Yiheyuan summer palace is different from the old Yuanmingyuan summer palace, which was destroyed by French troops a couple of centuries ago. From what I gathered, Yiheyuan was the special palace for the Dowager Empress Cixi. And it goes on forever. We walked up the mountain and then back down and passed through a bunch of special buildings that served different purposes, like entertaining foreign leaders, a Buddhist temple, and even the building where Cixi would change her clothes before going into the temple. The architecture was amazing, but after several hours, it all started to look the same. But it was cool, don’t get me wrong. We had a good time taking pictures with each other and of course with the inevitable paparazzi.