Dedicated to this sign.
This comes from the fact 干 （gan, long a）can mean either “dry” or “to do”. And in Chinese as in English, you can “do” more than one kind of thing (or person). In this case vegetables. So this sign is actually “dry goods”, as 菜 can mean vegetables or food in general.
So yeah, I went to a talk on translation this week and really enjoyed it, hence the sign. The speaker was a longtime party translator talking about One Belt One Road and translation in general. He went on for a long long time, covering specific examples as well as general theory, and overall I really enjoyed it. Biggest thing for my own work is the reminder that when translating, ensuring the audience’s understanding is key, so you have to be aware of what background knowledge etc. you can expect for the audience of any given piece. I’ll spare you the specifics of English-Chinese translation, but another good theoretical guideline I’ve heard elsewhere is when performing literary translation, the original novel is merely your raw materials, the finished product should reflect your own voice.
Aside from that, the week started out a little hectic. I logged in to do my counseling shift to find the queue blowing up. Apparently one of our texters had shared a post on facebook that went viral, and as a result we had like 400 people trying to get in. It seems CTL pulled in everyone they could, and for my first couple hours there were 200 counselors fielding texts (that shift usually has 20-30 or as many as 60 I believe, it’s a time slot that can see some traffic spikes. We got it under control though, and it seems to have been the second largest surge in the service’s three year history. Feels good to have been a part of it.
Probably not as hectic as the University of Maryland’s though. Aside from the tragic, probably hate crime killing of Richard Collins III, their commencement speaker Yang Shuping has managed to piss off the Chinese internet. Originally from Kunming, China, Yang gave a commencement speech about how much she loved the fresh air and free speech of America that she didn’t have at home.
This, of course, pissed a bunch of people off in China, and a lot of them are calling her a traitor, telling her to stay in America if she likes it so much etc. Fortunately some Chinese netizens are defending her saying she kind of has a point and that policing her speech from China is just strengthening it. There’s also been an online movement of other Chinese students abroad talking about their hometowns and how the air is clear, they feel so free etc.
As for my personal thoughts on the matter, I’m UM is sticking by her and defending free speech. As I’ve mentioned countless times, I do love China. I love living here, love the food, the people are great, I could go on forever. The air sucks though at least half the year, if not more, and Chinese people are quite aware they don’t have free speech. Everyone who appears in one of the response “I’m proud of China” video I watched, with one exception, is from the South where the air is clearer (but not completely) and so I feel they’re not really addressing her arguments. No one really is addressing her arguments or refuting them, they’re just pissed that someone is “airing China’s dirty laundry” to borrow NPR’s turn of phrase. Also, as far as I could tell in the video, everyone there is Han Chinese. Get a Tibetan or another minority up there and see how they feel. Oh wait, they can’t, because there’s no free speech in China. Mini-rant over, here’s the NPR story if you’re curious. Link
It’s actually kind of scaring me and pissing me off, this ideological policing of international students, maybe I’m reading too much about it.
Fulbright updates: I have an outline! I’m not done reading, but it felt like time to start writing, y’know? I feel like I’ve fallen behind on things, and I’m worried that I’m too far in that I won’t be able to pull myself out of the lazy routing and get as much work done as I should be able to. I’m writing at least 700 characters a day, and it seems to be progressing alright, and I have yet to find better accompanying music than house mixes. (Shoutout to Brody for making those, and congrats on your engagement!) I’m writing some terrible stuff, but I figure it’s good to start getting it out there and I have plenty of time to edit later in the year.
Also submitted my mid-term report for Fulbright yesterday. Really crazy to think I’m halfway done (more than halfway done if you count CET), so that was another factor in making me start writing.
I also have more pictures from the talks last week, and the great thing about the internet is I only have to show you the photogenic ones! Ain’t it amazing?
In fun news, I co-hosted trivia on Thursday night! It was a close match, with two teams scoring 27 and 26 out of 40 respectively. The audience were mostly native English speakers with a few exceptions. I’ll post all the questions and answers next week as a bonus post if you want to learn something and test yourself.
Only other news, my neighbor took me fishing on Saturday. Just catch and release at this spot in the wetlands. It was really nice actually, made me think about camp and all the lovely times I’ve had fishing with dad. Even started learning how to flycast (shoutout to John, wish you could have been there, could have practiced your Chinese too), and managed to catch a fish! Got another bite, but that one broke the line. I have to say though, I was kind of uncomfortable just holding the fish, didn’t quite feel right, so reexamining going more vegetarian (don’t worry dad, I’ll still eat just about anything you cook/order for me).
It was also real nice to see that much nature relatively close to Harbin. Great experience, not sure if I’ll be repeating it. On the note of getting into new spots of Harbin, check out this shot of pretty much idyllic Chinese suburbia (in reality just a block away from campus). This is kind of the Chinese equivalent of those stereotypical suburban housing developments you see in America though, manicured high-rises for days, preferably near a good school. The second shot, if you squint, has two boys playing with sticks on a mound of dirt, which is just a beautiful, screen-free experience that I imagine is hard to find in urban China and made me think back to bright memories of my Childhood.
I also went to the opening ceremony for sports day. Sports day is an event that just about every Chinese college has in the spring near as I can tell. It kind of serves as a replacement for the lack of school sports here, where all the departments enter students in various sport events (usually track and field, but some team sports too) to compete and everyone has a good time. The opening ceremony consisted of representatives of every department entering the stadium and then lining up on the field, capped off by cannons and colored smoke. Pretty cool, I didn’t stay to watch the rest. I believe there’s some dance performances too.
I’ll close with a quote from Jack Ma of Alibaba fame that was brought up at the event last Sunday. There may be a standardized English translation, but this is mine. “When it comes to opportunities, most people don’t see them at first, then look down on them, then don’t understand what they’re seeing, then only when it’s passed do they see what they might’ve been.” Take that into your lives as you will, and be well, and enjoy the cat.