Archive for May, 2007

Iraq Hits Home

Following the events in Iraq from a vantage point outside of the United States has given me an interesting perspective on the events both in the Middle East and in the US. While I might have a better understanding of what the international community is saying, I sometimes feel that I am not overly connected to the dialogue taking place back in my roots, and how the situation in far-away countries is affecting life back in rural Minnesota.

I was very surprised, for example, to hear that one of the music teachers that I had, way back in middle and high school, is being sent to Iraq on a tour with the Minnesota National Guard. He is 47 years old. He is a high school choir teacher. This is an interesting article from the local paper: Perham choir director receives emotional send-off to duty in Iraq

Alabama’s Giant Pig, In Indonesian

Today’s sign of the POST-NATIONAL:

Who says we’re not all connected? The front page of Indonesia’s largest daily newspaper displays nothing other than the giant pig, the babi raksasa, that was caught back in the ol’ USA.

Seorang Bocah Melumpuhkan Babi Monster
kompas giant pig story

Link to the Original Story: giant pig kompas article
MONTGOMERY, SABTU – Seorang anak muda berusia 11 tahun berhasil menaklukkan seekor babi liar raksasa yang diklaim memiliki panjang 2,7 meter, lebar 1,2 meter, dan berat mencapai 502,5 kilogram. Ukurannya diyakini lebih besar daripada Hogzilla, makhluk serupa yang tertembak tiga tahun lalu.

Jenis babi monster ini sebelumnya diperkirakan memang dapat tumbuh hingga mencapai berat 500 kilogram dan 3,6 meter. Namun Hogzilla, hewan terbesar yang ditemukan salah seorang ahli dari National Geographic di Georgia, AS pada tahun 2004 hanya seberat 400 kilogram dan panjang 2,4 meter.

A Day in Kunming

The Price of Kunming’s “New Image”

As the municipal government works towards its goal of making Kunming a MingHuaCheng, a cultural icon, a model city, a simple walk down the street for a bowl of noodles displays some of the dramatic changes taking place. The constant presence of people selling things on the side of the road – farmers with their fruits and vegetables, artists with their pictures or people with cheap watches – is a feature all over Asia, and Kunming has proved no exception.

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This Moment in Yunnan

Talk to almost any foreigner that has spent any time here in the Chinese city of Kunming and the very special nature of this moment in the province of Yunnan will be clear. Nearly every foreigner that I know here has, is, or has considered teaching English as a part or even full time job here. Even people for whom English is not their mother tongue – French, Colombians, etc. – have very little trouble finding employment as a teacher, whatever their qualifications or experience. There is a certain alignment of very unsustainable circumstances that make this particular moment unique. First of all, supply and demand is such that even the most unqualified of foreign teacher can make a decent salary, by USA standards. This, considered with the fact that the US dollar still goes a very long way in Kunming, means that one can live very comfortably with a relatively low level of work.

My experience with this phenomenon has been mixed. There are, of course, many people who put a lot of energy into their teaching and take it very seriously. However, there are also those who I see as taking advantage of the fact that they happened to find themselves in this particular place at this particular time.

Yesterday was a very interesting experience for a few of my classmates and myself. We were invited by our Chinese language teacher here at Yunnan University to go out to a middle school in a small town and spend some time with the students in their English language class.

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Indonesia, a Global World

In line with what I’ve come to believe about Indonesia, this New York Times article talks about the importance, the growing importance of the country in global affairs. “Indonesia courts role as peacemaker in the Muslim world”

Special Olympics in Kunming

If you didn’t know that Kunming was hosting the largest Games for the Disabled event in the entire country of China, you would probably be wondering why the local restaurants are all of a sudden over-crowded and the streets are even more frustratingly congested than normal. It has been a very interesting few days in the “City of Spring,” not only because the event itself is unique and fascinating but also because the buzzing of activity is contageous in a social conscioussness kind of way. If the city is normally “re nao,” the end of a long stretch of rainy days added to the feeling that every person in town was on the streets, eating the snack foods sold along the side of every road and absorbing the sunshine.

According to Xinhua News, the national press organization, there are over 83 million handicapped people in China. To be honest, at first glance it’s easy to get the impression that the number of handicapped or crippled people encountered on the streets is abnormally high. A huge number of these disabilities are the result of accidents that occur in what can be very dangerous and poorly managed work environments in China.

The Vice-Premier of China was in town today, to visit some of the athletes competing in the Games as well as to promote National Day of Handicapped People in China, which is observed today, May 20th. People have come from all over the country, and they are competing in events such as basketball for the blind, football for the deaf, wheel-chair volleyball, football for the cerebral palsy, and many others.  The Paralympics, held before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, are also going to be held in Shanghai.

In line with what seems to be one of the national mantras put forth by the central government recently, the Vice Premier said that the protection of the rights of disabled persons, and of everyone for that matter, is essential for the building of the “Harmonious Society” that China is to be striving for.

Southern Yunnan, Coming to Town

If it’s not hard news, it’s a good and an important story to tell. If it doesn’t have a major impact on national economies or foreign affairs, it certainly makes all the difference in the world to at least a few.

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Age of Empires – Road in the Sky

Not to be redundant, but the development of modern China is at once unprecidented and difficult to fully comprehend. While much of what the country is experiencing is unprecedented, the expansion of the country’s influence and relationships, domestically, regionally, and internationally, is harnessing methods proven effective by empires through the ages.
Yunnan, the SouthWestern province bordering Tibet, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar, is one of the most powerful examples. At the foothills of the great Himalayas, the rugged terrain has prevented the development of transportation systems and has nurtured the most ethnically and culturally diverse regions in China. However, the past years have seen some of the most incredible expansion of infrastructure the world has ever seen.

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