A Group Poem (with thanks to Kristin Naca, “In Mexico City”)
PittMap 2013 (a short-term, customized program in Beijing operated by CET Academic Programs)
City of red.
City of bare baby butts.
City of air so thick you can taste it.
City of “Please prepare for your arruval.”
City of sleepy McDonalds and Koala bears
City of Patriotism, Innovation, Inclusiveness, and Virtue.
City of Kaiser Kuo’s hair—that looks better than mine.
City of meat flavored Lays.
City of the fuscia sweater.
City of I can’t nap because of the propaganda music spewing from mushroom speakers.
City of Hey, handsome, show me your hukou.
City of Maybe it’s pork??
City of I don’t think we’re getting the whole story….
City of grey skies, grey streets, but what a sunset.
City of Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Maoism.
City of street food super heroes: noodle man, boor boor lady, pancake guy.
City of the always cigarette, the sometimes subway, and the casual loogie.
City of kuai, rmb, yuan; it all spends the same.
City of parks: purple bamboo, jingshan, beihai, old people doing Tai Chi.
City of “can a guy just get a fork?”
City of “are we in Epcot.”
City of KTV, KFC, and Mr. Lee.
City of “I could never wear that, but it looks great on them.”
City of protective facemasks, some plain and white, some trendy and colorful.
City of Chairmen Mao T-shirts, sweatshirts, keychains, hats, posters, pictures, paintings.
City of distinctive pagodas and all of them the same.
City of hutong maze and rabbit hole doorways.
City of Osnos and Hessler and Meyer.
City of Please cherish the facilities of the classroom.
City of silent scooters and electric bikes.
City of “Candace, you work here too?”
City of “Xie Xie” (at least I can politely butcher the language).
City of Beijing kaoya-.
City of restaurant roulette.
City of Fuwuyuan! the only name we will never forget, the only name
we will ever get right.
City of street vendors biking off as police draw near, leaving me confused and hungry.
City of temples and pagodas–where there is one, there are many.
City of hutong here, hutong where?
City of eager smiles, unrelenting stares.
City of what is your honorable surname?
City where my foot was run over by a woman on a bicycle.
City of hidden peppercorns.
City of pineapple on a stick and trucks full of strawberries.
City of angry bird hats and platform tennis shoes.
City of yes, you can smoke in here.
City of fake animal ears and real chicken feet.
City of can you pass the Tipi?
City of wear your coat to class.
City of Doa Shoa Tian?
City of HELLO! [Hannah, Lizz, or Judy should read this]
City of broken English.
City of how did 15 weeks fly by so quickly?
City of is it really time to go back to Pitzabou?
City of turning points and turning corners,
City where I didn’t have enough time between
hello and goodbye.
Oh, Beijing. Oh, Zoe. Oh, Buddies.
Oh, David Moser and your infinite wisdom.
Oh, fuwuyuan knocking in the morning.
Oh, City Drink, Wu-mart, and the noodle couple.
Oh, Line 6, always taking me where I need to go.
Sometimes the sky is clear, sometimes it’s not—either way I’ll meet you at the shed.
Written by Nikki Weiner (Barnard College), Student Correspondent
C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in China in Hangzhou, Spring 2013
This past weekend we headed to the Chinese fishing village of 象山(Xiangshan), which is near 宁波 (Ningbo), to have bonding time with our roommates. The Americans prepared for the trip by blasting “Vamos a la Playa” and throwing together a bag of bathing suits, towels, and a change of clothes, all of which took under 10 minutes and was completed 30 minutes before our departure; Meanwhile, our Chinese roommates had a more precautionary preparation. This consisted of a meeting the day before departure about how to prepare properly to go to the beach, and sending us multiple reminders through email, text, phone calls, and word of mouth to NOT FORGET to bring sunscreen, to apply said sunscreen (though we weren’t at the beach yet), to bring warm clothes, to drink lots of water, and to buy lunch to eat at the beach… oh and did you remember to pack your sunscreen? Chinese people deem pale skin as more beautiful than tan skin, a common contradiction between Americans and Chinese, so the sunscreen would prove to be a point of controversy throughout our vacation.
But after preparation and a 3.5 hour bus ride, we pulled up to Xiangshan rocking shorts, flip-flops, and tank-tops, while our roommates were dressed in flannel clothing. As to not let them know we hadn’t actually taken their recommendation to dress warmly we shivered subtly, very subtly, thinking S.O.S. After surviving the less than ideal first day weather, our first night at what some of our Chinese roommates called a Haunted Hotel turned out to be a rocky-horror like night. My roommate’s alarm went off at 3:00AM as she planned to watch the sunrise. Though the sunrise is at 5:03AM, a 2-hour preparation that would wake me up at 3:00AM and would ensure she wouldn’t miss it is totally understandable, right? Meanwhile, those living on the “silou”(4th floor), which has the same pronunciation as the Chinese word “to die”, brought forth Chinese superstitions. One Chinese roommate said he saw a ghost, heard someone calling his name, and saw things in the mirrors. Hmmm… And those sleeping on the 3rd floor came to breakfast complaining a screaming and yelling mother had woke them at 5:00AM, which ironically coincided with the sunrise, just want to point that out.
Despite a horrifying first night, we were going to “la playa” and nothing could impede our excitement. But getting to the beach wasn’t the traditional American road trip experience; a boat packed with Chinese travelers transported us to another beach where army men questioned our identities. Then a Jurassic Park-like tour car drove us to a mud-filled body of water, where the driver told us to walk straight until we reached a vacant beach (he didn’t tell us it’d be vacant, but it was, just for the record).
On the beach the bonding with our roommates began! Us Americans stripped down to our bikinis and our Chinese roommates left all of their long-sleeved shirts and pants on, applying sunscreen on top of their clothes, which is truly not too far off of reality. I tried to fly a kite with Lanlan, a Chinese roommate, but failed miserably. Then an hour later she came running over to me saying, “WeiWei, kankan!” (weiwei, look,look!) She was indeed flying the kite (though multiple experienced kite flyers had helped her). Meanwhile, Ethan was speeding around the beach on an ATV, and his driving skills proved to attract all of the ladies. Vivian, who is like Mother Teresa, collected trash on the beach, while the rest of us worked on our tans (using minimal sunscreen), which resulting in sunburns. Then we started a game of beach volleyball that gave our roommates an opportunity to show their true athletic skills, like their ability to make sure every time they received the ball it would fly out of bounds. I still would encourage them to “Manman lai” (take your time).
On our last day in 象山 we headed to the famous Movie City, where some of us experienced a 15-minute ‘time travel’ to ancient China and the future world through the 3D films “The Mummy Returns” and “Dinosaurs” in the 4D cinema. Wow, what a well-developed theatre… no seatbelts, no precautions, and tape holding together the seat arm rests. Water sprayed all over us, and our seats rocked all over the place, and some weird “things” (still left unidentified) slapped us, burning our sunburns. It was very zhongguo (China), to say the least. Finally, we had a little fun inside of the catacomb exhibit where we shot our version of the Blair Witch Project. This consisted of Jeremy using his iPhone to capture our reactions to the skeletons. Maia’s reaction to the Boxer skeleton, self-explanatory and totally comprehensible, a skeleton wearing one red boxing glove, was the spookiest or the funniest scene, you decide. And to finish off our trip, our bus ride back to Hangzhou included bathroom stops, a stop to get seafood at a seafood market, and a McDonalds run. We arrived back at school 5 hours later, with some serious laduzi (stomach problems)!
Check out this great video of Fall 2012 CET Shanghai alumnus, Oscar Wang, courtesy of Haverford College. Oscar describes his experience interning with the Essential Learning Group of Shanghai, one of the only schools within all of China that specializes in education. As an education minor at Haverford, this specific internship component was very important to Oscar when choosing a study abroad program in China. Find out more about the CET Shanghai program here: http://cetacademicprograms.com/programs/china/chinese-studies-internship-shanghai/