Filipina domestic worker wins prestigious prize for Hong Kong photos

Filipina domestic worker wins prestigious prize for Hong Kong photos
CHANGSHA, HUNAN — Xyza Cruz Bacani, 27, a domestic worker in Hong Kong, has won a 2015 Human Rights Fellowship with the Magnum Foundation, which will allow her to study for six weeks at New York University, Petapixel.com reports. Another winner is Xiao Muyi, 23, a photographer for Tencent News. She’s worked for Reuters, as well. Bacani works for a wealthy Chinese family in Hong Kong. She borrowed money from her employers to buy a Nikon D90 (good choice, Xyza!), and on her off hours, captures stunning black and white images of HK street life. She hopes to use the fellowship to further human rights in her home country, the Philippines. For more details about Bacani, check out this New York Times Lens Blog profile of her. Here’s one of her photos. More can be seen at Petapixel and the NY Times Lens Blog.

As promised, here’s my Chinese movie debut

As promised, here's my Chinese movie debut
JISHOU, HUNAN — Back in September, I was recruited to play a part in a Chinese web movie, Fall in Love at First Sight 2 (一次性爱上2 yī cì xìng aì shàng 2). The romantic comedy was released to VIP (paying) web users last month, and as of today, is free for anyone to watch online. For various reasons, I cannot embed the movie here. So, I’m hoping that you’ll be able to watch it by clicking on this link www.iqiyi.com. There will probably be some commercials at the beginning. They’ll be in Chinese, but the movie is subtitled in Mandarin and English. In it, I play a famous American music producer, Mr Jason, who has come to Xiangxi Prefecture in order to find the Drum Queen, whom he had seen a decade earlier. (The subtitles refer to her throughout as the Drum King, a mistake in translation.) He has come back in hopes of signing her to a record deal. By chance, he runs into a young couple, who manage to unite him with the Drum Queen while also cultivating their own budding romance. It’s a sequel to a 2013 web movie, Fall Love at First Sight (一次性爱上). In the ...

Guest blogger 2: Trans Li — “To be an elite”

Guest blogger 2: Trans Li --
Our latest student blogger is another graduating senior, Li DongLing 李冬凌. Her English name is Trans, which is short for “translator,” her dream job. Her hometown is near the city of Changde, about three hours from here. She’s been my student since 2011. Trans is now interning in Shenzhen for an automotive tool-and-die factory. To be an elite The truth is, I am not an elite yet, and there is quite a long, hard journey ahead for me to reach that point, but I swear to be an elite in the future. It is a lifelong promise to myself. I am an ordinary girl without special talents, who comes from a small village. But looking back, life has never treated me as an ordinary girl since I was born. I dare not say I have been through many bitter and hard things. I only can say each thing that has happened to me has made me stronger and more mature. It is common to see people defeated by all kinds of troubles, and certainly I have met many troubles, too. The key for me surviving these troubles — even failures — is my own belief. I am an English major ...

Guest blogger: Will Tang – “Something about my family”

Guest blogger: Will Tang -
As the school term ended, I invited my students and other QQ followers to write something for this blog. The topics are theirs. All I have done is clean up their grammar and spelling. First to submit something was Will Tang XiongLue 唐雄略, who graduates in June this year. Will and I were both teachers at a friend’s kindergarten last year, and he’s also been my student for three years. Something about My Family I was born in 1991 in Yongzhou, which is located in the south of Hunan province. Until I was 7 years old, I lived in a beautiful country village named 毛坪里(Mao ping li). It’s a small place in Yongzhou. My grandfather had told me that 毛坪里 was a desolate place full of weeds a hundred years ago. (That was during Qing dynasty in China history.) Then three young brothers came there, worked the land, built houses, and married with women from the nearby villages. They are my ancestors. My father is a middle school teacher in town. Grandfather told me that he had experienced a lot of hardship and suffered lots of pain in order to attend school. When father was 9 years old (It was ...

Chance encounters, once again

JISHOU, HUNAN — Last week, one of my students told me she chose to be an English major because, as a high school student, she had been eavesdropping on a conversation I was having with a college student. It was a chance encounter that I didn’t even know had happened until she told me about it a few days ago over lunch. In 2011 I was in Yongshun, a small city within the Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture, to help lead an English teaching workshop for area middle school teachers. While I don’t clearly remember which of my students I was with, apparently we were having some deep conversation while walking along the street. Behind us, unbeknownst to us, listening very carefully, was a high school girl — we’ll call her Jade. Jade at the time was entering her last year at Yongshun No. 1 Middle School. It’s a critical year for students, as they approach two seminal events in their lives: taking the college entrance exam (高考 gaokao) and choosing their college major. Like many high school seniors, Jade had had no clue what she wanted to study in college. That changed as she followed us around. Last week, she told ...

Jishou girl, 15, has M5b leukemia, needs financial help

Jishou girl, 15, has M5b leukemia, needs financial help
JISHOU, HUNAN — Today I attended a benefit performance that raised about $4,000 for a young Jishou resident, Liu FuRong 刘芙蓉, 15. A dance student, she was diagnosed with acute monocytic leukemia last month, and is now in a Beijing hospital undergoing chemotherapy. Her family is quite poor, so her performing arts high school organized a benefit to raise money for her medical care. Besides aggressive chemotherapy, she also needs type O blood and a bone marrow transplant. They raised 24,000 RMB (about $4,000) today toward expected treatment costs of 1,000,000 RMB. I am working on getting the information for international wire transfers to her benefit fund, in case anyone in the USA or elsewhere wants to donate. FuRong is a student of a friend of mine, an English teacher at the Xiangxi State National Arts School 州民族艺术学校 (zhou minzu yishu xuexiao). This is a senior high school for non-college preparatory students. I’ve never met FuRong. From her photos, pre-leukemia, she looks to be an energetic and bubbly girl. Certainly, her classmates and teachers love her, and organized today’s dance performances outside the BuBuGao Mall downtown. My phone’s battery died, and I didn’t have my camera with me, so this ...

Changsha anesthesiologist uses cartoons to talk to deaf mother

[Via Shanghaiist.com.] A Changsha, Hunan, anesthesiologist has become something of an Internet hero after cartoons he drew to communicate with a deaf patient circulated in social media. Yao Xiang, 25, of the Hunan Disabled Soldier’s Hospital 湖南省荣军医院 (Hunan Sheng RongJun YiYuan) , doesn’t know sign language, but he needed to communicate with the patient, an expectant mother undergoing a C-section. So, he drew cartoons like the one below. Yao said he began drawing when he was a kid.

Another term put to bed

JISHOU, HUNAN — Another term is past. I put in three intensive days to plow through marking my Listening Comprehension exams, and turned in my grade on Tuesday. I am a free man! This term was relatively easy. I have four sections each of Oral English and Listening Comprehension, totaling about 160 students. I designed the listening exams to be quick to mark, so plowing through them while I watched TV or listened to music wasn’t so bad. Likewise, the spoken English final assessments were already done by the time I gave the listening exams; all I needed to do was calculate their grades in Excel. So, what now? I have nearly eight weeks of vacation stretching out in front of me. For now, I’m just going to take it easy at home, as I still have some tutorials to meet. Then I’ll go travel somewhere. Haven’t made up my mind where yet. Meanwhile, I’ve been tweaking things here at Wheat-dogg’s World, and republishing the blogs I wrote about coming to China and being in China, as The China Chronicles. They’re indexed in the Pages section your right. Each chapter covers a year. I had hoped to find a WordPress ...

My friend Carla Wu gets married

My friend Carla Wu gets married
CILI, HUNAN — Here’s a happy story for the second day of 2015. My friend and former student, Carla Wu, is a cancer survivor, and celebrated her marriage in her husband’s home village near here on New Year’s Day. Carla (吴双 Wu Shuang) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in summer 2013. After surgery to remove a tumor from her thigh and aggressive chemotherapy since then, her cancer seems to be in remission. Her hair has grown back, long enough for a pixie cut, and she’s gained some of her weight back. Her husband Mu Yanhui (牟颜辉) is a nurse. They met while both were working in Guangdong province. He is from a small village near Cili, and she is from Yueyang city, several hours away. So, that means two wedding parties! The date of the Yueyang party has not been set. In his village, the local custom is for the groom to pick up the bride in her home, and carry her by car and on his back, as the case may be, to his home. There, they pay respects to their ancestors, and serve sweetened boiled eggs to family and friends. Then, there’s a big dinner. In recent years, Chinese ...

North Koreans liken Obama to ‘monkey in rainforest’

JISHOU, HUNAN — Pissed that American officials, including President Barack Obama, accused it of hacking Sony’s computer systems, North Korean struck back this week, calling Obama “a monkey in a rainforest.” Another blogger, the infamous Chuck C. Johnson of GotNews.com, claims that the slur was not a slur, but a compliment. because reasons. He claims the remark as reported by the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, refers to an idiom, “Even monkeys fall from trees.” 심지어 원숭이는 나무에서 가을 The idiom means even experts can be wrong, or humans are infallible. I’m calling bullshit on this revisionism. The actual words as reported in Korean media are 열대수림 속에 서식하는 원숭이 which translates as “monkey that lives in a tropical forest,” which as far as I can tell is not an idiom. English reports of the North Korean remark have interpreted it correctly, as we might expect. I should confess that I don’t speak or understand Korean. Neither does Chuck Johnson. But I went to Korean language news agencies to find the original remark and their use of it. None referenced an idiomatic meaning, but quoted it verbatim. To me, this suggests it was intended a racial slur, or an ...

It’s almost the end of the term

It's almost the end of the term
JISHOU, HUNAN — Today I gave my last exams of the fall term. Classes ended last week. Once I hand in my marks next week, I’ll be free for nearly two entire months! My duties this year are teaching Listening Comprehension and Oral English to the freshmen and sophomores in our college. That’s about 160 students, so my load is much lighter than in the past. For the listening classes, we met in a lecture hall yesterday where I could meet all the frosh at once, then all the sophs at once. Judging from the groans of dismay, what I hoped to be a relatively fair exam may have been harder than I thought. More than a few students have told me they think they failed the test. Both listening exams followed the same format. Part 1: A VOA Learning English report. Announcers for these reports speak more slowly and use easier words than regular VOA readers. Parts 2 and 3: Short exercises from their textbooks. Part 4: Dictation of the first paragraph of Matilda. It seems they did OK with the VOA Special English section, but the readers on the other section spoke too quickly for the students. Granted, ...

Bitcoin in China update 1

Bitcoin in China update
JISHOU, HUNAN — #Bitcoin is still alive and well in China, a year after the central banking authorities clamped down hard on banks doing Bitcoin-related business. We can still exchange renminbi for Bitcoin; it’s just not as easy as it was before December last year. Before the big crackdown, it was easy to transfer money from one’s bank account to any of several Bitcoin exchanges in China using the UnionPay interbank debit card system or the AliPay or TenPay third-party processor systems. So easy, that it appears Chinese Bitcoin speculation was pushing the exchange rate well over US$1,000. After the central bank restricted bank transfers and required banks close the exchanges’ bank accounts, the value of Bitcoins tumbled very quickly and has yet to return to the $1,000 level. Today, it was trading around $325. All but a few of the Bitcoin exchanges in China closed their doors. BTC China is one of the few that survives. It works around the banking restrictions by using vouchers as an intermediate step, and two representatives who accept the bank transfers. I took advantage of this system this week to transfer part of my paycheck to my US bank account. Previously, I had ...
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