Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mongolian dancers in Townshend

Last night Kathy and I were treated to a performance at Leland & Gray High School in Townshend, VT. Leland & Gray is the school in southern Vermont that operates the Journey East China-Vermont program about which I blogged last Spring.
The performance was of ethnic Mongolian music and dance from the Inner Mongolian University Performing Arts College, and their performance, I believe, would rank with the best that the area could offer. And this was all free of charge. From traditional to contemporary--I think-- dances as well as Mongolian "throat singing," were all performed with magnificent artistry. The musicians played traditional instruments such as the horse head fiddle or Morin Khuur, which is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.
The dancers were divided into female/male solo, and female/male group. The women effortlessly glided across the stage waving their arms and hands in elegant ways that resembled tips of a Chinese paintbrush. Their costumes were colorful and festooned with chimes that would jingle as they shook their shoulders together. Shake is not the correct term: this was more akin to a vibration or shiver that only somebody trained could do. The men's dancing was quite athletic reflecting the culture of high plateaus, desert, grasslands, and the importance of livestock especially horses to the nation. The songs were plaintive and may have been derived from their long-songs but I am unsure of this. The soloists were quite good and had incredible voices.
The evening's performance was quite impressive, and the gymnasium was full with nearly 200 in attendance. View some photos taken with my Zire 72 handheld at the event.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Shanghai Library: Contact

Our travel hosts, People-to-People, and their in-country contacts in China were unable to help me to make contact with a library in Beijing or Shanghai. In desperation I sent an email to one of the largest libraries in China--the Shanghai Public Library. Finding its web site was quite easy and the library itself is quite impressive: nearly 50 million items; almost .25 million square feet; and 8,000 visits a day. On Monday I received an email from Ms. Shen Hong of the International Cooperation Division of the Shanghai Library. She welcomed me, gave me her direct phone number, and set a time on Thursday, November 17, to meet at the front desk in the Library. Our delegation arrives in Shanghai on Thursday morning so there should be time to settle in our hotel, the Shanghai HoJo, have lunch, and meet with Ms. Shen at the library. I am still looking for a library contact in Beijing. If anyone has any ideas please post a comment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sterilizing shoe soles in Shanghai?

There has been a lot of press lately about Avian Flu (H5N1). Today in the International Herald Tribune an article mentions that the city of Shanghai will begin the sterilizing of arriving travelers' shoe soles.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Chinese Cultural Revolution from the bottom up

Thomas Friedman in is October 21, 2005, NY Times article, notes the Chinese embracing of the new technology, especially podcasting. Podcasting is the ability for any individual to create audio or video content, upload it to a podcasting site, and distribute the content to anyone over the web. He calls it a cultural revolution from the bottom-up that will be driven by podcasting and Ipods. Friedman discusses the Chinese podcasting site, Below is what the creator says:

"We already have 13,000 channels on our site and about 5,000 of them are updated regularly," said Gary Wang, 32, the Fuzhou-born and U.S.- and French-educated Chinese engineer who founded Toodou. Any Chinese can create his or her own channel of video or audio content on Toodou (which means "potato"), and other individuals sign up to get that channel's new uploads." Toodou's goal, Mr. Wang said, "will be to connect [Chinese] people to their tastes and to their potential collaborators. We will have a huge content database, and we will share the revenue with content providers." Friedman says of this that the next phase of globalization will be "glolocalization"--"more and more content made global."

"We have different songs and we want to express different things, but the desire is the same," Mr. Wang said. "We all want to be seen and heard and be able to create stuff we like and share it. ... People from all over the world will draw knowledge and inspiration from the same technology platform, but different cultures will flourish on it. It is the same soil, but different trees will grow."

This is truly revolutionary.

Friday, October 21, 2005

China's rapid rise to power and prominence

My New York Times tracker service just sends me an email whenever an article appears fitting the profile that I have setup. I have received two over the past week:

Report Calls Communist Party Rule Essential to Democracy in China which appeared on the October 20, 2005 International page, and

Rumsfeld Ends Beijing Visit With Talk With Chinese Officers , also appearing on October 20. Unless you are a subscribere to the Times Select service, you may not be able to get access to these articles in a few days. Check with your local public library since they may have full-text access to the New York Times.

Both articles are interesting in that they both discuss the same thing: China's rapid rise to power and prominence.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Final itinerary received

We have received our final itinerary. The one below is what is availaable from the People to People web site, but I believe it is pretty close to the final draft. I have left out the professional activities that the career counselors in the group will be doing each day.

We are arriving in Oakland on Thursday, November 10, with Southwest Airline, flight #913, at 1:10 p.m. We have friends to look up as well as tour San Francisco before our departure after midnight, Saturday. We will be staying at the Clarion Hotel at the SF Airport, (650) 692-6363.

Saturday, November 12: Early Morning flight: San Francisco to Beijing. Depart SF on 11/12/2005, at 12:10 a.m., on Cathay Pacific Flight #CX873, arrive Hong Kong at 6:55 a.m. Leave Hong Kong on DragonAir, Flight #KA900 at 8:05 a.m. to arrive in Beijing at 11:20 a.m.

Sunday, November 13: Beijing
Beijing is not only the political and administrative center of the People’s Republic of China, but also China’s single greatest repository of monuments and treasures from the imperial era. It is the second largest and fastest growing municipality in modern China, the home and workplace of 12-million people. Welcome Dinner. We will be staying at the Beijing Marriott Hotel West, telephone 011-86-10-6872-6699.

Monday, November 14: Beijing
Guest program:Visit the Opera School. The school, founded by noted Chinese performing artists, has trained nearly 5,000 professional performers who have specialized in Beijing (Peking) Opera, and various other performance arts.Guests will also visit the Temple of Heaven. The Temple’s compound is one of the largest parks in the city, covering 273 hectares, two times the size of the Palace Museum.

Tuesday, November 15: Beijing
Guest program:Journey to the Old Beijing Hutong (old city). You will get the chance to visit a local family in the Hutong area to help you to understand the real life of the local people.In the afternoon, visit the Summer Palace. The area became known because the entire court stayed in the palace during the summer to avoid the Beijing heat.

Wednesday, November 16: Beijing
In the morning, delegates and guests will visit the Forbidden City (Imperial Palace), whose massive stone walls were once the residence of Ming and Qing emperors. This afternoon visit the Great Wall of China, from whose high vantage points visitors enjoy breathtaking views of the sections of the wall that meander through the mountainous landscape.

Thursday, November 17: Beijing to Shanghai
We will leave Beijing at 12:00 p.m., on China Eastern, Flight #MU5110. Shanghai, the fourth largest city in the world, is one of China’s most cosmopolitan areas, virtually the only one that strikes an immediately familiar chord with most Western visitors. More than half of Shanghai’s population of 13 million people live in the urban core. The city considers itself the leading cultural and educational center of China.

Friday, November 18: Shanghai
Guest program: Enjoy a visit to the residence of Madam Song, the wife of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the People’s Republic of China. Afterwards, participate in an excursion to the Shanghai Senior Citizen University. The University in the Pu Tuo district was founded in 1985. Courses offered include Chinese painting, calligraphy, knitting, flower arrangements, mounting pictures and traditional Chinese sports. Our hotel in Shanghai is the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel , phone #011-86-3313-4888

Saturday, November 19: Shanghai
Delegates and guests will spend the morning at the Shanghai Museum. Established in 1952 and located in People's Square, the museum is reputed to be one of the four largest in China. Opened to visitors at the end of 1995, the museum contains 120,000 cultural relics of all the historical periods in ancient China, in which collections of bronzes, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy and ancient sculptures are among the best in China.Enjoy the rest of the afternoon on your own.

Sunday, November 20: Shanghai
Delegates and guests will spend some time at Yu Garden, which borders the Old Town and is filled with stone dragons, teahouses, pavilions and goldfish ponds. You will also have the opportunity to explore Shanghai’s culture during a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple.A farewell banquet on the final evening in China will give delegates and guests a chance to recap their People to People experience. We will be celebrating Kathy's 55th birthday here.

Monday, November 21: Shanghai to San Francisco
Leave Shanghai at 11:15 a.m., on DragonAir Flight #KA803 to Hong Kong, arrive 2:05 p.m. Depart for San Francisco on Cathay Pacific, Flight #CX872 at 4:40 p.m. and arrive in SF at 12:35 p.m. We will be staying at the Best Western Airport Inn & Suites in Oakland, telephone # 510-633-0500. Depart on 11/22/2005 for Hartford on Southwest Flight #84, arrive in Hartford at 435 p.m. on Flight #638.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

OECD study on China now available

One of my favorite library rss feeds, The Resource Shelf, announced the release of the OECD, (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Economic Survey of China on September 16. This comprehensive study of all facets of the Chinese economy is the first to be issued by this organization. There is an executive summary and 8 page policy brief. Some of the highlights I gleaned from the summary: the Chinese economy over the past 20 years has averaged a 9.5% annual growth rate, the highest of any country over the past 50 years; Chinese savings are 1/2 of the annual GDP; these gains have led to large increases in personal wealth as well as significant reductions in poverty; there has been a cost to this development--pollution in China--where 5 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are Chinese. This economic report is readable for the layperson and provides extremely valuable information on the Chinese economic power in the world today.