Ok, So you learned Chinese…Now where’s that dream job???

Posted in Linguistics, Society at 12:21 am by Benjamin Ross

Earlier this week I received an e-mail from an American friend of mine who had recently moved from China back to the US. My friend had spent three years in the Middle Kingdom, taught English, studied Chinese, and even worked a “real” job in Shanghai for half a year, and had now been back in United States for three months. His Chinese was solid, as it should be for anybody who spends three years in China, and good enough to be used on an occupational level. In his e-mail, he explained the frustration he was experiencing trying to secure a job in the United States which could build on his experience in China.

“I thought learning Chinese would be a hot commodity when I got back, and didn’t expect it would be this tough to find a job,” he expressed.

His sentiments are not out of the ordinary. In fact, the post-China unemployment funk is practically unavoidable for former expats upon their re-entry to the Western World, even in times when the economy is healthy. Part of the funk is due to the natural difficulties in transitioning back to American life. However, these frustrations are often aggrandized by high expectations, which are predicated on a fallacy that seems to follow any Westerner who has spent significant time living in China. It usually goes something like this and comes from the likes of parents, grandparents, teachers, generally anybody who is in a natural position to give you advice:

“Oh, you’re learning Chinese? China is the world’s next super-power, you know. You’ll be in high demand when you get back home.”

(Notice how people who make these comments never seem to be in the position to make use of your services. Yet they are confident others will be lining up to do exactly that.)

Chinese people provide similar, unsolicited life coaching. The line I hear most is:

你会英文也会中文。你应该做生意 。 “You speak English and Chinese. You should start a business.”

(As if that’s all it takes.)

The funny thing is that most of the people dispensing this kind of advice have never actually been in the situation which would require testing it out in the first place. They’ve never been an expat in China. And they’ve never looked for a “China job” in the US. However, they have heard all about it in the news, and they all seemingly buy into the axiom that: China is the next world superpower, and therefore there is no better way to cash in than to study Chinese.

The simple fact is however, mastery of Chinese, no matter how good you are, is NOT a golden ticket to employment in the United States.* That is, of course, unless your career goals are purely linguistic in nature (i.e. Chinese teacher, interpreter, or translator). More often than not, expats who learn Chinese and return home, find their way back into the same career (or school) path they had before they ever left for China in the first place.

Big money, international trades, product sourcing…these dreams are all in the trajectory of the scores of Tom Joads who show up annually in the Middle Kingdom. Everybody comes to China with a plan to strike it rich. Rather than a fortune and a new career, most expats seem to return home with little more than a thicker waistline, a prodigious collection of DVD’s, and possibly a new spouse. While China certainly is the current land of opportunity, capitalizing on this fact is not simply a matter of learning the language.

Although Chinese may in fact be in high demand, what’s equally important to factor in is the supply of Chinese speakers. According to the US census, in 2006 there were 2.5 million** people in the United States who speak Chinese at home. That’s more than any language other than English and Spanish. What this means is that not even counting the hundreds of thousands of American currently studying Chinese as a second language, there are already over two million Americans, who by virtue of growing up speaking Chinese, speak the language better than you ever will, regardless of how much you study. From international traders to insurance salesmen to delivery boys at the local chop suey joint, most of the “China jobs” in the US are filled by Chinese Americans.

On the other side of the ocean, English proficiency in the Middle Kingdom is spreading like SARS in a Chinese train station during Spring Festival. Every year Chinese universities are churning out millions (literally) of graduating English majors, a large percentage of whom don’t find jobs with their bilingualness either. Those that do, tend to start out in the 1000 RMB per month range, about 170 USD. In short, there is no bottleneck in communication between China and the United States. And in a capitalist world governed by the laws of supply and demand, there is little justification for hiring an American and paying him an American wage solely because he can speak Chinese.

That being said, it certainly is possible to create a career out of your China experience, but here are some points you should consider.

-A decent “China job” is best attained by using Chinese to augment a pre-existing skill set. While the language alone won’t procure much in the way of employment, Chinese should give a competitive advantage to individuals who already have existing qualifications such as an engineering degree, a background in biochemistry, or experience in the financial sector.

-There are a substantial amount of career-oriented positions available which will make use of your Chinese skills. The thing is, most of them are in China, particularly Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. If your goal is to base your career on Chinese, you should be comfortable with the idea that you’re going to be spending the majority of your time in China.

-In order to secure a job using your Chinese, you’re going to have to be pretty good. Basic conversational skills and “knowing the culture” aren’t going to get you squat. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly, but you should be able to sit in on a business meeting, soak up the details, and contribute to the conversation without falling too far behind. We’re talking a pretty advanced proficiency level here. Being literate helps too.

-But most importantly, finding a good China job relies much more on your actual skill set than your language skills per se. This is where people tend to kid themselves and hide behind their HSK scores. If you’re a poor communicator, disorganized, or can’t create an Excel spreadsheet, these traits are going to hurt your chances at employment much more than your inability to properly pronounce the third tone. Regard the bulk of your China job search as you would any other job search which wouldn’t pertain to your China experience. Your Chinese language chops are the gravy.

Now all of this is not to say that learning Chinese is a waste of time. Learning a foreign language, especially one spoken by 20% of the world’s population is, provides access to a wealth of knowledge and experiences unattainable to monolinguals. The ability to speak Chinese will allow opportunities for personal and intellectual growth to which it would be impossible to attach any price tag. But in terms of paying dividends measured in annual salary, the rewards of learning Chinese will likely never exceed the time and effort put into it. If you do decide devote the time and energy to study Chinese, do so out of a desire to further your own personal curiosities and intellectual development, not under the pretense that it will directly boost your career. For that, you’d be better off getting an MBA.

*I am assuming the same would apply to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Western Europe, but since I’ve never lived in any of those countries, I’m going to limit my direct discussion to the US.

**I’m willing to grant a significant number of that 2.5 million speak a dialect other than Mandarin (Unfortunately the census lumps all Chinese dialects together). However, current trends in immigration indicate that a) Chinese immigration to the US continues to increase and b) the vast majority of recent immigrants are proficient Mandarin speakers.



Neil Armstrong and Chinese Urinals

Posted in Society, Translations at 2:25 pm by Benjamin Ross

On multiple occasions during my stop through Zhejiang this past March, I noticed stickers such as the one below, posted above urinals in Internet bar bathrooms.


It reads 上前一小步, 文明一大步, or in English “Step forward one small step,  (become) civilized one big step.”  This notice, urging male patrons to inch closer to the facilities while urinating, is actually a play on words from another famous quote in China, “这是一个人的一小步,却是人类的一大步,” which is the Chinese rendering of “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” the famous words uttered in 1969 by Neil Armstrong upon the first successful Moonwalk, 24 years before Michael Jackson accomplished a similar feat.   

The “XX一小步,XX一大步” slogan format is not uncommon in China, as 40 years ago Mr. Armstrong inadvertently unleashed the perfect template, when translated into Chinese, for parallel metaphorical (I’m sure there’s a more technical term) public service announcements that still resonates today, even in dingy netbar lavatories.

The most prominent example of the “Armstrong template” is probably “个人文明一小步,社会文明一大步,” meaning “One small step for personal civility, one big step for society and civilization.” This slogan can be observed in public areas as a general reminder to people to wait in line, throw away trash, not spit on the floor, or anything else which is associated with “civilized” behavior.

The reason that Armstrong’s quote has stuck so well (in addition to the sheer magnitude of the moon landing) is that short, concise quotations, often with minimal (or no) grammar, are probably the most poignant ways to make witty statements in Chinese.  The prime example would be the 成语 (cheng2 yu3), where four characters are muttered in succession, and communicate an implicit meaning which usually requires several sentences of English to explain.

While Neil Armstrong’s command of the Chinese language is likely far superseded by his knowledge of the universe and astrophysics, I do imagine he would be humored to know that his legacy has produced one of the more indelible slogan templates in the Chinese lexicon…Or at very least to know his speech patterns are memorialized in the coveted real estate above Chinese netbar urinals.



The New Face of Sports in China

Posted in Olympics, Pop Culture, Society at 1:46 am by Benjamin Ross

Note: Due to the timeliness of the following post, I’ve taken a short break from “From the Delta to the Backwoods.” Expect another update to the series by the end of the week.


August 18, 2008

On a scorching evening in Beijing, thousands of fans are pack into Workers Stadium to watch two international soccer powers collide in the semifinals of the Olympic Games.  Although people from around the globe have descended upon Beijing for the Olympics, the crowd arriving to watch Brazil battle Argentina is 90% Chinese.  In a country where soccer is embraced by the masses and visas to visit Western countries are not easily obtained, this is likely the most anticipated soccer match ever to take place on Chinese soil.  Of those lucky enough to get in, many have coughed up sums of up to 3000 RMB to purchase tickets from scalpers.

Beijing Workers Stadium Argentina vs Brazil Olympic Semifinals
The capacity crowd at Beijing Worker’s Stadium eagerly awaits the kickoff of Argentina and Brazil, playing for a spot in the Gold Medal Game.

As the opening kickoff ensues, the crowd fixates on the field, hollering, cheering, and soaking in what may be their only chance ever to watch world class footballers in person.  Halfway through the first half, heads begin to turn in the lower section on the west side of the stadium, and a slow murmur morphs into a barrage of emotion and shouts.  Cheers erupt, cameras flash, and a euphoric mayhem ensues, as from out of the fan concourse emerges an athlete renowned and loved by sports fans across Middle Kingdom.  But ironically, the athlete drawing all the attention at this soccer spectacle not a soccer player himself.  Rather he has earned his fame indoors on the hardwood, as both an Olympian and a perennial NBA All-Star.  I think you know who I am talking about, right?  In a land where ping pong is king but basketball is the latest craze, this star has become the Bruce Lee of a new generation, with his image sprawled across billboards, and his name imprinted on backs of jerseys in the schoolyards of far-flung rural villages.  Yeah, you know exactly who I am talking about, don’t you?  Wanna guess?  I’ll give you one hint…It’s not Yao Ming.

As the newly arrived celebrity and his two acquaintances take their seats, the mob begins chanting in unison, “KE—BI, KE—BI, KE—BI.”  Before long the entire west side of the stadium has joined in the chant.  “KE—BI, KE—BI, KE—BI.”  “Kebi” is of course the Chinese name Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant.  Bryant, a purported fan of the Argentinean soccer squad, had just sat down to enjoy the match, as he was mobbed by a mass of autograph seeking, camera flashing, Chinese soccer fans.  It was as if the match between the two South American powers had been temporarily suspended, so that everyone in attendance could catch a brief glimpse of the NBA superstar.  Throughout the fiasco, which lasted roughly 15 minutes, chants of “KE—BI, KE—BI, KE—BI” continued to roar throughout the stadium.

Over the last decade, the NBA has rapidly been replacing soccer as the premiere spectator sport in China.  NBA fervor rose to a new level in 2002 when 7 foot 5 inch Yao Ming of Shanghai was selected as the first pick in the NBA draft by the Houston Rockets. Since then, Yao has played in 5 All-Star games, given proper lip service to his country and its leaders, and avoided any major off-the-court blemishes to his personal record.  But the main knock on Yao thus far been his failure to deliver a championship caliber team to the 5.7 million people in Houston (and the 1.4 billion in China).  The Rockets Yao-era post-season woes have caused some of the rage over China’s tallest celebrity to taper off of late.  Recent years have seen numerous Chinese fans who were once loyal devotees to the Houston Rockets, switch their allegiance over to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.  According to Jiang Yuan, a 26 year old NBA fan in Xiamen, “Pretty much everybody in China knows Yao Ming.  But among those people who really pay close attention to the NBA, Kobe is more popular.”

Kobe-mania is indeed spreading throughout the Middle Kingdom.  In addition to the billboards and jerseys, last summer at the Olympics, I ran into a group of college age Chinese boys who were all wearing yellow shirts with purple letters reading “I Love Kobe.”  This was at a beach volleyball event.  I didn’t go to see Kobe play live.  I couldn’t.  Tickets were nearly impossible to find and selling for over ten times their face value.  Even CCTV highlight shows, where were at one time were virtual play-by-play recaps of Yao’s performance, are increasingly focusing more time on China’s adopted favorite son.

Interestingly enough, the NBA’s other dominant figure, LeBron James, has yet to leave as much of a cultural imprint on China as has been done by Kobe in recent years.  Even CCTV announcers can be heard pondering, “Why isn’t LeBron James popular in China?”  One theory, suggested by Jiang, is that Kobe’s game is dependent on “elegance and form” while LeBron’s style is based primarily on raw strength.  “Chinese peoples’ bodies are not as strong as those of Westerners.  Therefore they prefer those players with elegant playing styles like Kobe and Michael Jordan,” Jiang says.  This may also serve to explain why Kobe’s fame is seemingly eclipsing that of Yao, whose game relies heavily on him standing a full head above most other players.

I love Kobe T-shirt in China
A young Chinese fan wears his basketball allegiance on his shirt.

With all this in mind, the current playoff series between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers may bear more significance for Chinese NBA fans than any other in NBA history.  This is not the first time these two giants of basketball have competed against one another in the post season. Yao and Kobe faced each other in the post-season in the first round of the 2004 playoffs, with LA easily disposing of the Rockets in five games, and most attention focused on the nominal rivalry between Yao and Shaquille O’Neal.  At that juncture, Kobe had yet to completely emerge as the MVP-caliber player he is today, and Yao was still a scrawny second year player, being dominated in the post by a formidable Shaq Diesel in his prime.

Fast forward to 2009 and China’s two favorite NBA stars are both posting career seasons and battling out a best-of-seven series in the second round of NBA Playoffs.  For Yao, a win against to Lakers could regain some of the ground he has already lost to Kobe as China’s foremost NBA superstar.  And for Kobe, a win puts him one small step closer to winning his first post-Shaq championship, and an even more devoted legion of Chinese Laker fans.

Few NBA enthusiasts would assert that the Rockets have much of a chance to win a championship in 2009, let alone take the series from the Lakers.  At the same time, the Lakers, assuming they handle the Rockets, will still presumably have their hands full in the NBA Finals against the red hot Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.  Nonetheless, this series represents a potential crossroads for China’s two most-beloved NBA stars and could have considerable implications on their standings in the higher order of Chinese basketball deities.  One thing is for certain though.  You don’t need to be Chinese to become the king of basketball in China.  Just ask Chinese soccer fans.

Addendum: Just as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, it was announced that Yao Ming has a broken foot and will be out the rest of the Playoffs.



China and Mitch Hedberg…It’s Gotta be the Face.

Posted in Culture Clash, Society at 8:28 am by Benjamin Ross

The late, great comedian/philosopher Mitch Hedberg once quipped:

An escalator can never break:  It can only become stairs. You would never see an “Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order” sign, just “Escalator Temporarily Stairs.” Sorry for the convenience.

chinese escalator stairs
An immobile Chinese escalator…aka stairs.

The funny thing is that in China most escalators are in fact…stairs.  However, this is not necessarily because poor construction causes them to break down frequently.  Rather it’s due to the Chinese tendency to err on the side over overbearing fiscal responsibility when it comes to electricity.

Yesterday, as I was passing an immobile escalator in a Shanghai suburb, I made a comment about the escalator/stairs to my Chinese assistant.  Her immediate reply was “Duh, the elevators are built for face.”

Without being overly ethnocentric, it’s difficult to asses the use of funds to finance a value (face) which is virtually valueless in one’s own culture.  However, one has to wonder at what point spending money on face is deemed less important than spending on projects of a more functional value, such as say…electric devices which will actually be turned on from time to time.

For more insight from 老Mitch click here.



Chinese, Japanese, Shanghainese, Look at these!

Posted in Immigration, Society at 9:11 am by Benjamin Ross

Well, I’ve been in Shanghai for closing in on one week now, and just as my sleep is beginning to acclimate to the time difference, I thought it would be appropriate to give a little update of what’s going on.  The first two and a half weeks of this month-long trip are going to be mainly work related, and so far work has been consuming much of my time.  Unfortunately, without completely violating the trust (not to mention the NDA) of our client, there really isn’t much I can say about the project I’m working, other than that it deals with young Chinese video game enthusiasts.  (Trying to Chinese youth who play video games is about as difficult as finding Chinese people who like to eat rice.)

This is my fourth visit to Shanghai, and every time I come what sticks out more than anything is the level of Westernization.  I’ve always maintained that Shanghai is by leaps and bounds, the most internationalized and cosmopolitan city in China  (Beijing is a distant second.)  This manifests itself in the locals’ mannerisms and attitudes (basically everybody else in China, Beijingers included, are yokels), the clothes they wear (this is the only place in China where I have ever felt under-dressed or out of style), and the cornucopia of Western products they embrace (On my street alone there is a specialty Greek foods shop, a fruit store which sells fruit 3 times more expensive than the vendors who hang out outside the store, a golf course, and multiple golf pro shops.)

All this is great if you are, say, living in a small town in Fujian, and want to experience Western amenities without purchasing a $1000 plane ticket home.  But when you live in Chicago, and are trying to suck up as much China as you can fit into a one month excursion, it’s not quite as appealing.

Thus it came to my absolute delight, when yesterday afternoon I discovered, hidden away behind all the modern glitz and Japanese hair salons, an old “village” which today houses a community of recent immigrants.  In the US when we think of “immigrants” we are often implying those who come from other countries to seek a new life in America.  In China, when we speak of “immigrants” we are usually referring to those people who come from outlying rural areas to the big cities in search of better work and opportunities.  Like many immigrants in the US, Chinese immigrants frequently form their own local communities, and live lives almost entirely separate from the local population.  Thus, while the street on which my hotel lies, (the one with the golf course and the Greek foods shop) caters almost entirely to the Shanghainese and foreigners from Western countries, the “village” is populated almost entirely by migrants from poor rural areas in China’s interior.

Here are some pics of the village.

shanghai village street
One of the main drags in the village.  I must say I like the uniform paint which uniformly tinted the entire row of buildings.
green chinese building
An old residence in which the bottom level has been converted into retail space.
clothes hanging on the line in china
Another residence; Often houses such as these are only ten or fifteen years old, but appear much older do to wear and tear, and poor construction.
old shanghai house
Several gated villas such as this one stand out among the other architecture of the village, and possibly pre-date their surroundings.
shanghai alley
Most of the residences open up to alleys, since the actual streets are lined primarily with storefronts.
Chinese Mike burger Mcdonalds copy
Unlike my street which only five minutes away has virtually every Western fast food chain known in China, the migrants have to settle for “Mike burgers” when they want to sample western cuisine.

I think I know where I’ll be spending a good amount of my free time during the remainder of my stay in Shanghai.  More to come soon from the “Paris of the East.”



Cultural Revolution Propaganda Part 3

Posted in Society, Translations at 10:55 am by Benjamin Ross

Here is the next batch of propaganda posters. I’m going to try to get the remainder up by the end of next week.

The regime will come from the gun
The regime will come out of the gun
The Selected Works of Mao Zedong
The Selected Works of Mao Zedong
Take over the fight, fight till the end.
Take over the fight, fight till the end.
note:  “fight” in this sense is through words.
Grasp the Revolution, Promote Production, Promote Work, Promote Combat Readiness
Grasp the Revolution, Promote Production, Promote Work, Promote Combat Readiness
the Selected works of mao zedong
The Selected Works of Mao Zedong
Be Ready for Combat, the Enemy Must be Annihilated
defend stalingrad soviet union world war II memorial poster
Injuries are man’s medal of honor
Soviet Union World War II memorial poster

note:  I am assuming the Chinese is a translation of the Russian.  If anybody can confirm (or deny) this, that would be great.

Proletariat, Unite!  Workers, Peasants, Soldiers, Unite!  We must Liberate Taiwan
Proletariat, Unite!  Workers, Peasants, Soldiers, Unite!  We must Liberate Taiwan
Far and Wide, the Prospects are Endless
Far and Wide, the Prospects are Endless
Great teacher, Great commander, Great leader, Great Helmsman, Long Live Chairman Mao.  Long Long Live (Chairman Mao), Long Long Live (Chairman Mao)
Great teacher, Great commander, Great leader, Great Helmsman, Long Live Chairman Mao.  Long Long Live (Chairman Mao), Long Long Live (Chairman Mao)



Cultural Revolution Propaganda Part 2

Posted in Society, Translations at 12:36 am by Benjamin Ross

Here’s the next batch of posters.  I’ll have more up as I get them scanned and translated.  Corrections welcome.

Long Live the invincible Marxism, Leninism, and Mao Zedong Thought!
Long Live the invincible Marxism, Leninism, and Mao Zedong Thought!
The Red Army does not fear difficult expeditions
The Red Army does not fear difficult expeditions.
Carry out in depth the Revolution’s Mass Criticism! Everything will come out
Carry out in depth the Revolution’s Mass Criticism! Everything will come out.
Soldiers and civilians unite as one, view the world and see who is the enemy.
Soldiers and civilians unite as one, view the world and see who is the enemy.
Long Live and victory to Chairman Mao revolutionary literature and art!
Long Live and victory to Chairman Mao’s revolutionary literature and art!
Carry out life, studies, and speech using the Mao Zedong Thought of the masses
Carry out life, studies, and speech using the Mao Zedong Thought of the masses.
Navigating the sea is dependent on the Helmsman Lin Biao
Navigating the sea is dependent on the Helmsman.
Revolution is dependent on Mao Zedong Thought.
Lin Biao 11/29/67
Be vigilant, defend the Motherland!  Prepare to annihilate the enemy’s invasion!
Be vigilant, defend the Motherland!  Prepare to annihilate the enemy’s invasion!
Forward and Victory with Chairman Mao’s Revolutionary Path
Forward and Victory with Chairman Mao’s Revolutionary Path.
Unite!  We must liberate Taiwan.
Unite!  We must liberate Taiwan.



Cultural Revolution Propaganda

Posted in Society, Translations at 3:49 pm by Benjamin Ross

This past summer, my former fellow Fuzhouite Ron Sims (aka “Black Man in China”), asked me to find some of those old Cultural Revolution style posters and bring them back to the US.  In addition to being a prolific podcaster, Ron is also a talented artist and web designer and had wanted to master the style of Chinese propaganda posters.

After a bit of a search, I was able to pick up a fairly comprehensive pack of 50 poster prints in one of those touristy shops near Qianmen.  Unfortunately for Ron, I have a soft spot for 60’s and 70’s propaganda, and it’s almost January and I still haven’t sent them to him in Cleveland.  I thought it would be interesting to translate some of them so that those of you who don’t 看中文 could read them (and have your thoughts properly molded) as well.  I have about 40 more, so if there’s interest, I’ll throw the rest up too.  Enjoy.

Unite, World Proletariat!  Down with American Imperialism!
Let the Vast Heavens and Earth be Smelted into a Red Heart
Long Live and Victory to Chairman Mao’s Proletariat Revolutionary Road
Long live the Great People’s Republic of China!
Sing L’internationale
You should be concerned about the National Grand Dispute.  Carry out the Proletariat’s Cultural Revolution to the end.-Mao Zedong
Hold high the party’s 9th General Assembly.  The banner of unity and victory comes from victory to victory
Study the Revolutionary Spirit of Lu Xun.  Suppress the Road of Confucianism.
Rise up!  Cold, Hungry, Suffering Slaves
Have a Very Happy New Year



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.



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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