Sexual Education and Family Planning with Chinese Characteristics

Posted in Health and Medicine, Society, Translations at 6:01 pm by Benjamin Ross

This past summer, during my trip to the Yu Village in Southern Hebei, I came across a jovial series of public health/sex education signs. They were constructed out of tile and affixed to the sides of stone buildings lining the main road of the Yu Village. Several generations ago, public displays such as these were the main avenues for the dissemination of public information. Thesedays, they are less and less common, and virtually non-existent in major cities. The following signs give step-by-step instructions on how you and your family can live a happy healthy life, and I have translated them for your enjoyment. Read carefully. You might even learn something.

(Click on the images to see enlarged views)

Fresh New Marriage and Child Rearing for 10,000 Families

Carrying out the activities of “Fresh New Marriage and Child Rearing for 10,000 Families” relies on the community, depends on families, and is for the greater purpose of establishing proper childbearing masses, science, civilization, and improving the institution of marriage. Our purpose is to create families which are civilized and happy, have less children, and become rich fast. There should be a societal trend in which marriage and childbearing is delayed, having less children is eugenic, and having a girl is just as good as having a boy. Happiness is connected to you, me, and others. Keep your knowledge of marriage and child rearing up to date, and help to establish Fresh New Marriage and Child Rearing.

Promote the idea of women having only one child.

note: ”10,000” is a commonly used Chinese hyperbolic expression implying an extremely large, if not infinite number.

The Wonderful Green Spring Period

What is the Green Spring Period?
The Green Spring Period is the stage which occurs from about 12 or 13 years of age until about 17 or 18.

The Green Spring Period…
is sexual development and the sign of maturation; For females it generally begins at the time of the first menstrual period. For males, it starts around the time of their first emission.

What are the signs of the Green Spring Period?
blurb: Every year (I) get 6-13 inches taller.
blurb: Every year (I) get 5-10 kilograms heavier.

The secondary sexual characteristics appear
females: the nipples protrude, the pelvis widens,the breasts develop, pubic hair and armpit hair begin to grow: menstrual periods begin and gradually become more regular, the voice gets higher.
males: stature increases, muscles develop: pubic hair, facial hair, and armpit hair begins to grow: Adam’s apple starts to show, the voice gets deeper and the tone gets lower, they begin to produce semen

side note: 青春期 (the Green Spring Period), in English is commonly known as “puberty.” However, the adolescent in me couldn’t help but leave it directly translated.

Chinese stick figure public health poster
The Wonderful Green Spring Period

“Menstruation,” What’s going on?
blurb: “What’s happening?”

Once a girl has reached the Green Spring Period, the inner lining of the uterus and the hormones begin to react. Girls will find that a cycle begins, and they will bleed. Blood will come out of the vagina and this is called “menstruation.” The menstrual cycle on average is 28 days. Menstruating is a sign of a healthy girl.

What you should pay attention to during your menstrual period
-Maintain a stable, optimistic, cheerful mood
-Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy manual labor
-Don’t go into the rice paddies barefoot
-Eat less cold and spicy food
-Do not swim
-Do not shower
-In order to prevent the private parts from getting to cold, do not sit on any cold surfaces.
-Every day use warm water to wash the genital area or eluviate
-Change and clean your “menstrual belt.” After you wash it, dry it out in the moonlight.

If you fall in love early, you could easily be affected by bad guys

What are the dangers of falling in love early?

blurb, middle right: 工读学校 (a special school for kids who need extra discipline)
-It will influence studies and work
-It will influence physical health
-Having a baby early will bring a lot of pain and suffering

Wish You A Happy Marriage

What is the pre-marriage examination?
Before they register to get married, young men and women undergo a health examination which is called the pre-marriage examination. There are a few diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis which need to be healed before getting married. This is in order to benefit the health of the woman and the child.

Why do you have to register to get married?

Once you have registered, the marriage is a legal marriage, and (the couple) can receive legal protection.

Regular gynecological exam
After women get married (they should regularly check) blood pressure, heart, pelvic exam, pap smear (cancer screening) , ultra-gynecology, etc. If there is a disease, they can find it early, and treat it early.

Help for you to get through the difficult peri-natal period

What you should pay attention to during labor
-Eat more, eat high calorie soup, milk, eggs, etc.
blurb: “It looks like this time you’re really going into labor!”
-Giving birth at home is way too dangerous!
-Don’t be nervous going to the hospital to have your baby. It will go much better if you do it with a doctor.

What you should pay attention to during the post-partum period
-Make sure you get 10 hours of sleep every day.
-Maintain proper ventilation
-Eat less, but more often
-get enough activity
-get adequate sunlight
-keep warm and keep sanitary

How to Have a Healthy and Smart Child

Why close relatives can’t get married
Regulation: It is illegal for relatives whose relations are closer than third cousins to get married.
blurb: “Cousin, Cousin.”
blurb: “Illegal!”
The mortality rate of children whose parents are close relatives is three times that of those whose parents are not related.

The chances of inheriting a genetic disease are 150 times higher for children whose parents are related as opposed to those of unrelated parents.

How to choose the best age to have children
blurb: “I’m 26 years old!”
sign: Females are fully developed by the age of 23-25.
The best age to have children is 25-29.

What is 优生?
优生means having a happy, healthy child
blurb: “This child is really smart!”
blurb: “This child is growing really well!”

Who determines the sex of the child?
banner : Having a boy and having a girl are the same
sign: mother XX father XY female child XX male child XY
The sex of the child is determined by the male!

note: The word next to the crying mother and female child in the bottom right (过去) means “in the past.” The word next to the two happy parents and the female child (现在) means “now,” thus implying in the past having a girl would make a couple sad, whereas today it will make a couple happy.

Necessary Precautions for Pregnancy

How to project your due date
The easy way to calculate is to start from the last menstrual period and either subtract 3 or add 9 to the month, and from the day add 7.

Due date:
If the pregnant woman is used to using the lunar calendar, she can add 15 days to the date.

How do you know you’re pregnant?
The most important sign of pregnancy is that the menstrual period stops.
caption: “I don’t want to eat. I want to…throw up…”

Early on in pregnancy, most women feel nausea, vomit, notice enlargement of the breasts, and become picky about their food
What to pay attention to after pregnancy
You should:
-Keep the skin clean
-Take good care of the breasts during pregnancy
-Make sure you are having regular bowel movements
-Do a prenatal screening
-Control your sex life
-Wear loose clothing
-Stay in happy spirits

Healthcare for Infants

What kinds of special neonatal care should be given to infants?

Neonatal refers to the period from when the baby is born until it is 28 days old

Be sure to keep them warm, keep the skin clean and sterile, have good oral hygiene, keep the umbilical cord clean, sterile, and dry,
loss of body weight

Do not button their clothes. Do not use a needle either. You should use a 带子系 which is tied at one side

The best thing for infants to eat is their mother’s milk

Mother’s milk is full of various nutrients. it’s easy to digest and absorb, it can boost the immune system, it’s economical, convenient, clean, and it’s the appropriate temperature. Under normal circumstances, at about 10-12 months, an infant should stop drinking its mother’s milk.

Care for Common Infant Maladies

What kinds of maladies do infants often get?
high fever,children’s pneumonia,
Make sure the air in their room is fresh
Give them enough water
Make sure the respiratory path is clear

This disease is the result of low iron intake
(Eat) more foods which contain iron such as meat, eggs, liver, vegetables, and vegetables should be added to the diet.

Infant Diarrhea

Make sure the anus and surrounding area is clean and sterile
Control the diet
Do not use medication without the guidance of a doctor

Children’s Rickets
This disease is caused by a vitamin D deficiency
You should eat more eggs, liver, vegetables, and fruit, and spend more time in the sun.

Care and prevention for other diseases in infants

bed rest, cover the blanket, keep the room dark and ventilated, drink a lot of water

Care for whooping cough
Keep the air fresh to prevent choking on smoke
Eat less, but more often
make sure they get adequate sleep

“Children’s Hospital”

Go quickly to the hospital to get a diagnosis


Choosing the Most Suitable Birth Control Method for You
Contraception method choices

1. For unmarried women
The best contraception methods:
-the man wears a condom
-short-term or “visiting relatives” birth control pills
-make sure to stop taking the pills 6 months before you want to get pregnant

2. During the breast feeding period
The best birth control methods:
-contraceptive implants
-long-acting contraceptive injections (get the injection every 3 months)

3. A mother with one child
The best birth control methods:
-oral contraceptives
-contraceptive injections
-contraceptive implants

4. Parents with two children
-The best birth control methods:
-getting the tubes tied
-contraceptive implants

5. Couples living in two different regions
The best birth control methods:
-“visiting relatives” birth control pills

6. Women nearing menopause
The best birth control methods: condoms
(those using birth control should stop half a year after the onset of menopause)

Control the population and thus improve the population’s quality.Strengthen the population and the Family Planning Policy.  Stabilize the low birth rate.



Obamapalooza at Grant Park: Pics and Thoughts

Posted in Festivals and Celebrations, Uncategorized at 2:22 pm by Benjamin Ross

Last evening was allegedly the largest public gathering in the history of the city of Chicago. Regardless of any political affiliations, this was an event I was not going to miss. Here are some pics and thoughts from Obamapalooza ’08.

Obama gear street vendors
In addition to campaigners, street vendors were out in full force all over downtown last night, selling everything from T-shirts to buttons, to Barack Obama victory towels. Special shoutout goes to whoever made the “Barack to the Future” T-shirts.
outside Obama Rally Michigan Avenue
I arrived outside Grant Park by around 6 pm, and crowds had already begun pouring in.
No more wars for empire
Events like this always seem to draw protesters out of the woodwork. Some in good taste…
Fuck McCain pig
…others not so much (but equally hilarious)
Chicago Skyline on election night
The skyline of Chicago was lit up nicely for the event, with several buildings displaying election themed messages via office lights.
outside grant park election night
Grant Park was divided into two separate areas, one for those with tickets, and one for those without. At 7:30 I finally scored a ticket (using the same method that got me into 14 Olympic events this summer) and made my way inside the park.
obama rally at grant park
This was my first view from inside the. The Chicago authorities had been preparing for armageddon, and crowd control was tight. Before entering the park, there were three different crowd gates, presumably to prevent a stampede. At each gate, a crowd of several hundred would have their tickets checked and then were allowed allowed to pass through. Before the next gate would open, the crowds were held back for about twenty minutes, so that the group in front of them could get through first. While crowd control measures were tight, security was not. Throughout the evening, blaring announcements had proclaimed that all attendees would need to pass through a metal detector. However, metal detectors were nowhere in sight.  Nobody frisked me either. In all reality, I probably could have been brought in a rifle, a 2-foot bong, and a pouch of grenades, and nobody would have known.
Barack Obama speaking at Grant Park
Throughout the evening, the jumbotron behind the stage played the live election coverage from CNN. Whenever the announcement came of a state which had gone for Obama, the crowd roared. When a state went for McCain, everybody booed in unison. The loudest boo (and accompanying laughter) went to Utah, which the announcers specifically mentioned, had no chance of going for Obama anyway.
Chicago Skyline Obama Rally
Once inside the venue, the crowd was further split off into barricaded sections. Those who got in earliest got to be in front past the barricades. I was in back, which meant the view wasn’t so good. But I did have the luxury of being able to breathe.
The largest cheers came during John McCain’s concession speech when everybody realized that what everybody already thought was going to happen, had in fact happened.
Barack Obama speaking at Grant Park
About a half hour after McCain’s speech, the man of the hour took the stage. However, in the interim was a string of speakers which I can describe only as odd and unexpected. First was a clergyman (Joe the preacher?) who gave a mini-sermon asking for God’s blessing to Barack Obama and the country. Following that was the always Orwellian pledge of allegiance led by a former military man whom neither myself nor anybody else in my vicinity could identify. Just before Barry O. came out was a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, sung slightly off key by a woman who inadvertently replaced the words “whose broad stripes” with “with broad stripes.” I had not previously equated a vote for Obama as a vote for Jesus, patriotism, and bad singing, so hopefully this was just an isolated incident and not indicative of times to come.
Michigan Avenue at Night
After the conclusion of Obama’s speech, (and fifteen minutes of Obamas and Bidens hugging and kissing on stage), the crowd began to file out. Jubilant crowds packed downtown and horns blared throughout the night. A Chicago man was on his way back to the White House.



Chinese Writing: Is it really worth all the hassle to learn?

Posted in Linguistics, Society at 4:03 am by Benjamin Ross

Earlier this month I spent two weeks in an interpreter training seminar for a new agency I am now working for.  As part of the seminar, each participant was required to complete a ten-page glossary of medical terminology in their respective language.  Adrenal glands, anthrax, congestive heart failure…the list went on.  To complete the course, all of the medical terminology from the glossary had to be looked up (if not already known) and written next to its corresponding English definition.

For most of the participants at the seminar, completing the glossary was an insurmountable chore.  For me however, it was a welcome opportunity to write Chinese characters, a skill I had devoted hundreds of hours toward acquiring.  Item by item, I worked my way through the glossary, and after three evenings during which I spent over an hour on the project, I finally came to the end.  When I was done, I couldn’t remember the last time I had written so many Chinese characters in such a short period of time.

Even in the US, I use my Chinese every day.  I work as an interpreter, I have Chinese friends in Chicago, I read Chinese websites, I hang out in Chinatown, I’m a compulsive QQ addict, I call my old barbershop buddies in Fuzhou late at night when I can’t sleep.  Rarely does a day pass where not a single sentence of Chinese passes through my consciousness.  But how often do I actually write Chinese?  Well, the answer is a resounding “hardly ever.”  The ten-page glossary was by leaps and bounds the most Chinese characters I had ever written at one time outside of my own Chinese studies.  This got me pondering.  How practical is it to learn how to write Chinese?

Chinese writing is arguably the most time consuming aspect of studying the Chinese language.  Look inside any coffee house in Wudaokou (Beijing’s main foreign student district) and you will see tables of foreign students, meticulously laboring away at Chinese characters, stroke by stroke, character by character, line by line, the process repeated ad nauseam over the course of several years.  This, of course, is the only way to become proficient at writing Chinese.  But what is the payoff?  How much will a student of Chinese use their writing once they have finally mastered it?  For a little insight, let’s take a look at my own personal Chinese character study path.

Before I stepped foot in the Middle Kingdom, I had never written a single Chinese character.  In high school and college I had made the (rather unwise) decision of studying French, and therefore came to China with a blank slate.  I was living in Fuqing, a small town in which there were no other foreigners, and thus no Chinese study programs nor classes.  I didn’t learn to write Chinese for academic purposes, nor out of necessity.  Rather, I learned it out of boredom.

As it would prove to be, boredom can be an priceless asset for someone attempting to become proficient at Chinese writing.  As an English teacher in Fuqing, I was pulling a ten-hour work week, and doing so in a city with no bars, no beaches, no museums, and no live music,  Other than karaoke centers and brothels, nothing was open past 11 pm.  I had gobs of free time, was grossly over-paid, and had little to occupy my endless hours of freedom.

During my first month in Fuqing, a Chinese colleague had given me a handwriting textbook written for Chinese kindergartners, and a grid-lined notepad, specifically designed for writing characters.  At the time, I was diligent in my Chinese studies, but had decided to focus my studying around pinyin (Chinese Romanization) rather than learning to write the characters.  I had been on a six-month contract, and figured it wasn’t worth taking a stab at Chinese writing with such a short time frame.

For several months, the textbook and notepad collected dust, along with the veritable museum of gifts which had been bestowed upon me from colleagues and students during those first few months.  That was until one week, when a typhoon had kept me trapped inside my dorm room for two days straight.  In a fit of boredom, I looked over to my bookshelf, grabbed the textbook and notepad, and meticulously began copying the cryptic symbols onto the paper.

The following week, a Chinese friend instructed me on the proper way to write characters (stroke order is vital for any beginner), and before long I was on my way to becoming a functioning member of literate Chinese society.  I would learn five or six characters per day, focusing on words which were already in my spoken vocabulary, and using every block of free time I had to copy them onto the notepad.  After nearly six months, my writing had progressed to the point where I could write just about anything I could speak.  From that point on, whenever I would learn new vocabulary, I would always learn how to write the characters, instead of just learning the pinyin.  After two and a half years of active self-study, I reached the point where I could consider myself literate.  Rather that merely copying characters on my notepad, I was now keeping a daily journal of my activities in Chinese, and relying on this as my primary method of improving my writing.

Around the same time, several of my students had finally succeeded in dragging me into the world of QQ, the dominant IM chat client in the Middle Kingdom.  Although I could already read and write Chinese, QQ provided the additional hurdle of having to type Chinese on a keyboard.  Over the course of several months, Using the MS-Pinyin IME, I was able to transfer my skills with a pen into skills on a keyboard.  The more I was sucked into QQ, the more my Chinese typing improved, eventually to the point where it was infinitely faster, and more accurate than my handwriting.  Around this time I was also introduced to Chinese text messaging.  Talk time in the Middle Kingdom is considerably more expensive than sending texts, and my Chinese friends were getting tired of having to call me every time we needed to communicate.  Like it or not, I was, in effect, forced to learn to type and text Chinese out of necessity, whereas I had learned to write purely out of interest and curiosity.

Now let’s fast forward to my three month trip back to the Middle Kingdom this past summer.  The research project I worked on was conducted entirely with Chinese locals, and with a few minor exceptions, all work-related engagements were conducted without the use of English.  Most of the traveling I did was done alone, and with the exception of a trip down South to visit friends, was done in complete Chinese immersion as well.  As for my social life, it would be nearly impossible for an American in Beijing to live completely separate from other English speakers.  However I would still estimate that at least half of my social encounters were conducted in Chinese.

All in all, I spent 3 months in China, during which easily 2/3 of my communication was conducted solely in Chinese.  In all of those encounters including professional, personal, and travel-related, how often did I write Chinese characters?…maybe 6 or 7.  At an absolute most, 8.  Of those, at least half occurred while repeatedly writing my address on forms during my fiasco with the bank.  How is it that I could spend so much time in the Middle Kingdom without hardly ever using my written Chinese?  Well, for every single character I hand wrote, I easily typed or texted several hundred, if not a thousand.  Between scheduling meetings via e-mail, conducting research interviews on QQ, planning weekends over text messages, and making new friends on Xiaonei.com, my fingertips, and not my right hand, were spewing out several hundred Chinese characters per day.

Learning a language is an investment in the future.  Few people would struggle several years learning a foreign language without the belief that they would be using it for years to come.  Thus, when studying a foreign language, one must decide which aspects of the language will be the most valuable in the future. Handwriting is an art will be around for many generations to come, but its practicality is rapidly waning.  Just as brush calligraphy has remained a popular cultural relic of China’s past, I do not foresee handwriting’s complete disappearance any time in the near future.  I do, however, see its usage to continue to be rapidly replaced by electronic media, and eventually, like brush calligraphy, being relegated solely to the realm of artistic expression.

For me, as a Chinese learner in the 21st Century, the ability to type and text Chinese has proven invaluable on both a personal and professional level.  These skills have made my existing ability to communicate in Chinese infinitely more valuable.  All the while, my ability to write continues to deteriorate due to lack of practical usage.  It leaves me with the question:  Were all of those hours spent laboring over Chinese characters in my notebook really worth it?  In terms of personal satisfaction, then the answer is definitely yes.  Writing Chinese is a hobby which has given me countless hours of contentment and a greater appreciation of the Chinese language.  Additionally, learning how to write Chinese has also helped my reading proficiency, and I’m left to question whether or not one can effectively learn to read while bypassing the writing process.  But in terms of learning to write purely for the sake of being able to write, the time commitment has yet to pay off.

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