Sunday, March 28, 2010

On Talk Shows and Tourism

This past month has been super super busy, as I've been hinting at in past posts. The new students all arrived on March 1st, and we spend the next week orientating - a mixture of boring policy meetings and SUPER AWESOME get to know you activities. It was easier this second time around, although every new bike purchase or excruciating Wenke walk reeked of dejavu. This week of course also included the overwhelming stressful motorcycle event at the acrobatic show. I promise it will terrify me once more when I go again in April.

Toward the end of the second week of the semester, Fudan asked IES to represent foreigners on a new TV talk show, "Culture Matters." Of course I went. ICS, the International Channel of Shanghai, is our English language channel. From my extensive viewing of this channel, I know that their actors etc are of the highest calibur of foreigners pulled of the street with no acting skills. This could be my big break into the Chinese silver screen!

The concept of the show was interesting (comparing and contrasting East and West, new topic each week), and had a good deal of potential, but the multitude of takes and the crazy guests made it a long experience. The topic of the episode I filmed was Chinese movies and marketing them to the West. Of the three guests, one was incredible and made really interesting remarks. He was a high ranking official in the Film Bureau (I forget his actual title). The second guest was a Chinese movie producer, who apparently did not realize that the show was to be conducted in English. The third guest was an American movie producer, who kept getting frustratingly and severely off topic. Anyway, it was a random experience. Look for me on ICS, I'm interviewed on classic Chinese cinema, and I almost get decapitated by the mike boom.

The following day we went to Wuzhen as a group. Wuzhen is not what I was expecting. Based on highly scientific wikipedia research, it seems like a city akin to Suzhou - a water town that's adorable etc, but still a functioning city with residents and the like. Turns out Wuzhen is a major tourist attraction. It is a town, and one that is still inhabited, but the whole thing is gated off and they charge an entrance fee. The whole experience was a lot like plymouth plantation - a living museum of sorts. It was also SWARMING with Chinese tourist groups with matching hats. I think we were the only foreigners. One of the group had reversible pink burberry bucket hats. Wuzhen was interesting; a good look into life on the delta a few hundred or so years ago, but not at all what I was anticipating.

Recently I had a couchsurfer come to stay for an extended weekend, Danielle from Portland. It was nice to have someone to show around and be excited about being touristy with. Since I was working, she was on her own for a good bit of the time, but we were able to meet up evenings and such. And, since she was from Portland, I took her to the Boxing Cat. (Fun fact: Shanghai has two microbreweries, the Boxing Cat and the Bund Brewery). Here we are at the Boxing Cat:

Two weeks ago, I started interning at the Pudong Institute of the U.S. Economy. (Good luck googling them, they don't have a website per se, not to mention one in English...something I may volunteer to help them set up). They're a think tank that contracts with the Chinese government to research a lot of interesting stuff, not just the U.S. Economy. I'm assigned to work on projects having to do with human rights and how China is viewed by the West in that regard, as well as religious practice in terms of the Expo. (If you have any leads on those topics, let me know!). I've also done a few things on climate change in China, but human rights and religion are going to be my main focus there. It also sounds like I'll get to be doing some expo-related events and such through them. So far it's been a really great experience. They keep sending me to meet with smart, important people and interview them or take notes on their lectures etc.

Last week it was Pam's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAM), and on the way to her party, I got to ride the new Line 7!! Technically it opened like, 2 months ago, but it doesn't really go places I usually go. This was overwhelming amounts of giddiness and excitement. Check out all that fancy chrome and orange paint!:

Oh, check out this "American Product" (that's what it's labeled) that I found in the frozen foods aisle of NGS!

I think that's about all that's been going on aside from the mundane office stuff and the Chinese classes. The weather is FINALLY improving and I'm starting to get really excited about the impending return of Picnic Tuesday. My family is coming for Easter (they land in Beijing on Wednesday), so I'll be getting touristy through Beijing and Shanghai through the next week or so. I'm also planning to live in the lap of luxury while they're here - soft sleeper trains, western restaurant brunches, gifts of cheese and chocolate from Switz, etc. If you have any ideas for what I should do with them (especially my 14-year-old brother), let me know.


P.S. If you have any suggestions for the next video I put together, let me know!

P.P.S. I get homesick for you all all the time, so please keep me posted on your lives. I get ridiculously excited to talk to you!

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