According to the World Health Organization, to date, there have been about 130 confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza in the provinces of Fujian, Jiangxi, Shandong, Jiangsu, Henan, Hunan, and Zhejiang–and two municipalities–Beijing and Shanghai.
CET continues to watch the situation carefully via the monitoring of local news in China, the US Embassy in Beijing, reports from the WHO and CDC, and media reports from US and international news agencies. CET overseas staff in China are regularly updating students with the latest information. Though there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission at this time, Chinese officials and international health organizations are carefully monitoring the development of this virus, and providing regular updates.
At the current moment, the CDC and WHO recommend taking common sense precautions, like not touching birds or other animals and washing hands often. Poultry and poultry products should be fully cooked before eating. The CDC and WHO do not recommend that people delay, restrict, or cancel trips to China
CET recommends checking the following websites frequently:
Latest News from WHO:
As always, feel free to call CET if you have concerns about the health and wellbeing of our students in China.
-Adam Jones, Senior Manager, Asia Programs
-Ingrid Lombardo, China Programs Manager
This semester I have been working at the Beijing LGBT Center. Before going to the center I was getting extremely excited to see how the LGBT community is thriving in Beijing. Not going to lie, I was not expecting much. Having learned about China’s reaction to the rise of the LGBT community and how it has mostly been negative, I was expecting to have a very small community with a small number of Chinese citizens that were still struggling to find a place in their country. Often feeling out of place even in American society, I was even more eager to share my experiences and learn from those around me in Beijing.
Working as a group leader at the center’s LGBTalk, I have had the great opportunity to guide, listen, and share in these people’s experiences. This is a group session that involves both Chinese and foreigners. Centered around a weekly theme, we begin our classes by discussing an article and a topic, i.e. fake marriages, gay terminology, etc., then we continue into smaller discussion groups led by the foreign volunteers. After a brief discussion we all regroup to further discuss topics and issues that arose in our mini-discussion groups.
First arriving at the center, I have to admit I was extremely nervous. I know that I am a confident and open person, but I had never participated in this sort of event, let alone led this style of discussion group. Upon entering the room, I was immediately put at ease. There were about 40 Beijingers who were welcoming me in and talking to me about my time in Beijing. The sheer fact that this small community exists in China is amazing. I was so warmed by the enthusiasm and zeal of these people and immediately felt at home. They have adopted this center as a safe place for them discuss their lives openly without the risk of judgment and ridicule, which I believe in a place like China is extremely important.
As our discussion about fake marriages began, I was inspired to hear all of these men and women, of all ages, sharing their experiences and opinions about a modern issue such as this. Some have personal experiences with regards to rise of fake marriages in China. I would love to share some of these stories with you, but as the LGBT Center advertizes itself as a safe and private space, sharing the personal stories outside of the group is not appropriate. But the comments that I heard were hopeful and excited for the future of the gay community in China. I was extremely thrilled to hear that one man said he believed that gay marriage could be seen in China in as little as 10 years. As gay marriage is trickling into American society, the optimism of this group that has been ridiculed and turned out I believe shows the strength and passion these people have for a cause they are living and breathing everyday.
Expecting to hear more negatives than positives about China’s dealings with the LGBT community, I am happy to say I was wrong. Rather than dwelling on the hardships of being gay in modern China, the people choose to focus on the future and the amazing parts of their lives today. The inspiration that I have felt from these people, who I now consider some of my friends, has given me great hope for the future of China’s LGBT community and their stories will be ones that will continue home with me.
CET alumnus Rebecca Roady explains what to expect in a language pledge environment. ‘Language pledge’ programs require that students speak the target language 24/7 for the duration of the program.
Created by Rebecca Roady (Rice University)
CET Intensive Chinese Language in Beijing, Student Correspondent, Fall 2012
1. How to play charades - The first day of the language pledge was a quiet one for me. I was overwhelmed because what I wanted to say kept piling up at that place just before my voice box, bottlenecked by my language ability. “I’m still exhausted from jet lag and stressed-out by the first day of class” became “我很累” (I’m tired). Other than saying 你好, I was very quiet, but there is one thing that you must do no matter what language you are (or aren’t) speaking: eat. Eating requires the most basic of vocabulary: pointing, I want (要) and I don’t want （不要）. Via life’s necessities, the language pledge forced me to attempt communication and I then discovered it was easier than I thought. Building upon our basic pointing skills, my other classmates and I learned how to communicate using hand gestures and facial expressions like never before. My personal favorite word for someone to act out is “surprised” because every speaker’s expression is different and the audience often guesses crazy or scared. Give it a try with some of your language-learning classmates: set your own No-English rule for a given time and try to carry on conversation as usual. You’ll quickly learn that you can express a lot using a combination of simple Chinese and creativity. It is also an easy way to see what basic vocabulary you’re missing (and fill in those holes in your language ability). Please be careful though, charades is not a long-term replacement for improving your language skills, but it is a stepping stone for tackling the beginning phases of the infamous language pledge.
2. How to take correction and move on from mistakes – I will never forget the time when after 4 days of Chinese 101 at my school in the States, I ran up to one of my Chinese friends and tried to tell him “I am an American. My name is RuJia.” The look of confusion on his face cemented my embarrassment and up until the first few days at CET, I always felt that same painfully awkward embarrassment every time I tried to use my broken Chinese. If someone corrected me, it felt like a blow straight to my ego. At CET, speaking Chinese 24/7 means that I could not afford the luxury of taking correction personally. Making mistakes is a natural part of learning anything, especially learning a language. If you don’t believe me, then have a conversation with a young child, and then get back to me. In order to cope with the stresses of the language pledge, you have to get over perfectionism. My motto this semester is 越来越好， or better and better. If I don’t test well, then I’ll do better next time. If I accidentally offend someone because I butchered my sentence, I can learn from my mistake and move on. The best way to improve your Chinese is to speak as much as possible and pay attention to feedback. CET has given me the best possible environment to do both.
3. So much gets lost in translation - At first, what got lost in translation was my English based thoughts (see the above “I’m tired” example) but after a while I noticed something strange. During my weekly phone calls with my parents, I had a hard time translating my Chinese experiences for my English speaking parents. Any language learner knows that there is no clean-cut relation between a word in the starting language and a word in the target language. I knew that from my previous studies, but all of my experience was from English to Chinese, not the other way around and I was surprised to discover I know Chinese words and phrases but not their English-counterpart, if they exist at all. This is why it’s so important to not to develop the habit of mental translation. Unless you’re going to be a professional translator, it’s better to free yourself from the shackles of English patterns and start to experience Chinese thoughts and expressions like a native, in Chinese. In those moments when I realize speaking English has become hard and I can’t quite say what I mean without some Chinese, I’m most thankful for the Language Pledge because I know it’s working.
Though life with the language pledge has its good days and its bad days, the language pledge certainly is successful in one thing: it takes Chinese from its status as something that should be studied in the classroom and makes Chinese a part of daily life. And that, after all, is what I’m here for.
As a member of Middlebury’s women’s squash team, I am prone to like playing any and all racket sports from tennis to ping-pong to badminton, so once I heard that Beijing was hosting the China Tennis Open, I absolutely had to buy tickets to go watch.
I was lucky enough to find out that my friend’s roommate was a volunteer at the China Open, and although she didn’t have any free tickets left, she was willing to take me to the stadium and help me purchase my tickets. We arrived at the stadium at around 11 o’clock, and the stadium courtyard was already buzzing with spectators, food vendors, sponsors, and the like. I was not only excited for the opportunity to watch some great tennis, but also interested to connect my China Open experience to content from my one-on-one tutorial class: the influence of the 2008 Olympics on Beijing. The Olympic tennis complex was impressive; there were two primary show court stadiums, the Lotus Court and the Diamond Court, and I purchased tickets to see 3 semi-final matches in the Diamond Court.
The first match was one of the men’s semifinal matches: Tsonga vs. Lopez. Unfortunately Lopez retired early, so it wasn’t that that great of a first match, but I still had two more women’s semifinals to watch.
The second match was probably the most exciting of the day because it was between Sharapova and China’s very own Li Na. Li Na is known for being the first Chinese woman to win a Grand Slam back in 2011 when she won the French Open, but since then she has had a tough time competing in big tournaments. I could sense both high pressure and expectation from the Chinese spectators, and I am positive Li Na could feel it all on her shoulders down court side. I would say that 95% of people in the stadium were rooting for Li Na, naturally, and the remaining few that supported Sharapova were scattered between all the Li Na fans. It was funny to hear a faint cheer of support for Sharapova then see all eyes flash towards the source of the cheer. There was this one Indian boy with his parents who actually constantly cheered for Sharapova, and it was hilarious to see all the Chinese people surrounding him shooting him curious and sometimes sharp looks.
The opening first set was tight with a lot of deuces, but Sharapova ended up taking it 6-4. Every little point, shot, or mistake was followed by an ooh or an ahh from the Chinese crowd, which was pretty entertaining because overall I don’t think Chinese people completely understand all the rules or etiquette of watching a tennis match. My friend’s roommate told me before the match began that anytime a Chinese athlete and a foreigner compete, there is a distinct, raucous atmosphere that is comprised of pride and spirit for a fellow countryman or woman, and the crowd that day certainly filled that expectation. Although Li Na held it tight in the first set, she dropped the second set in a hurry, 6-0. While Li Na unfortunately did not triumph in her attempt to win the China Open, watching the tennis matches gave me a really fun window of opportunity to observe and engage in Chinese sports culture.