Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Creative Insight

Leo, Senior 2 Changzhou High School, commenting on the title of “And of Clay Are We Made” by Isabel Allende:

The title: Clay can’t stand up to stress and pressure. It is easy to break. Like the life of the girl, it is easy for her to die. [Some believe] God creates people with clay. The clay can mean us or any human being. All human beings are easy to break too. Our life needs be protected by ourselves and those who love us. This means we are born from earth and die or return into the clay and mud.

White Cloth

"An infant travels through adulthood like a piece of white cloth, so once dyers thoroughly tint it they can not make other major changes."

Armstrong Li, Senior 2 AP English Essay - "Childhood Memory"
Did I mention that I love my students? : )

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Flowers of War in Changzhou

I saw Flowers of War in Changzhou, a city that is about an hour by train from Nanjing, on Christmas Eve-afternoon. It was a more emotional experience seeing the film in China rather than seeing it in the States because I am so near the museum commemorating the victims of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. The memory of visiting that museum in August 2011 and touching the notebooks filled with transcribed interviews from survivors of the massacre- oral history fresh and raw in the Chinese memory- shapes my perception of the event in a way that would have never happened had I remained in America.

My students at the Changzhou High School of Jiangsu Province and I have discussed issues of censorship and art in our Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition class. We also discussed the credibility of one of my senior 3 students to critique the film in the context of the rhetorical triangle- her ethos.

Read what the director, Zhang Yimou, had to say about the making of the film in this L.A. Times article.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We live in time -- it holds us and moulds us -- but I've never felt I understood it very well. And I'm not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel versions. No, I mean ordinary, everyday time, which clocks and watches assure us passes regularly: tick-tock, click-clock. Is there anything more plausible than a second hand? And yet it takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time's malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing -- until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return.

The Sense of an Ending by J. Barnes

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yellow Ostrich

Alex Schaaf, singing Sharon Van Etten's "Love More" from her album epic

When I was in Congo, I heard my students say that when an elder died, a library burned down. This Yellow Ostrich song callled "Libraries Burn Fast" reflects the speed of knowledge production and the murkiness of memory in the information age of wi-fi and world news in a minute.

The Yellow Ostrich Website


Let me take your words from you today
Tell me what you’ve always yearned to say
Sing about the trials you have known

‘Cause there will be a fire here today
All you see will slowly fade away
Into ashes, shadows and the mist

Make it quick, don’t try to understand
Trucks and hoses soon will be at hand
Tell all that you know before you go

And I will write it down here in my book
I promise you that I will never look
Until the day has come when the fire starts

Libraries burn fast
When they’re in the past
Once you leave all your stories will be gone
Libraries burn fast
They weren’t built to last
Flames of memory burn brighter than the rest

Libraries are burning
Should we try to save them? What will we be missing?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Banana Flower Toting Santa

I bought this stuffed monkey at the Taihu Electronic Music Festival in the Joyland Amusement Park in Changzhou, China on October 28, 2011. It was a misty night, and I remember two amorous robot dancers in their red blinking body suits circling each other lustily on the outdoor stage. My monkey is having dreams of space and fantasy journeys to lands where stuffed animals frolic free.

International Women's Tea Santa Claus
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Writers on Writing: Students on Writing

My student in senior 3, Sun Yi, reminded me to slow the pace of my life. She recommends an unhurried and deliberate approach to the day. Working closely with her on the editing process, I recognized her philosophy of creating art emerging in this piece.

In Sun Yi's words, "The hot pot slowly reveals its attractive fragrance under the fire. The hot pot needs to be persistently and patiently cooked so that it becomes the symbol for the creativity and culture over thousands of years. I am also the cook, in the kitchen, in my life, slowly absorbing the knowledge, constantly putting effort into my pursuits and gradually displaying my talent. I bring happiness to other
s’ stomachs and hearts."

All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal through the senses, if its high desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotion. - Joseph Conrad

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Grow With Why

Sun Yi wrote this brief application essay for entrance into Tufts University, bringing a delightful new insight to the word WHY.

Why, Why, Why, Why, Why...

This word in my existence keeps annoying my parents, and later in school sometimes makes my teachers confused. Scientists try to fill the mystery behind this word. Philosophers and sociologists devote their life to this word, formulating various interpretations, but never reaching an agreement.

This word, combining both simplicity and complexity, is important in every culture and for every individual. It doesn’t matter in Chinese, English or other languages; this word can be used as a single word or added into any situation.

That is my dear “why”.

I never stop asking:

Why does a rainbow have seven different colors?

Why can’t fish close their eyes?

Why does this or that happen?

“Why” is the essence of my education and the key to my achievement. “Why” forms my habits of acutely observing, constantly questioning, widely searching, carefully testing and logically analyzing. “Why” gives me energy to study days and nights and never lose my strong curiosity. “Why” shapes my determination to study abroad, to pursue my dream as a diplomat regardless of all the challenges, and today, to apply to Tufts.

I grow with “why”.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

All of our family acquaintances have followed the same path: their youth spent trying to make the most of their intelligence, squeezing their studies like a lemon to make sure they'd secure a spot among the elite, then the rest of their lives wondering with a flabbergasted look on their faces why all that hopefulness had led to such a vain existence. People aim for the stars, and they just end up like goldfish in a bowl. I wonder if it wouldn't be simpler just to teach children right away from the start that life is absurd.

- Muriel Barbery

Weekend QQ News from Yixing

A Penguin Waddles In Yixing

principally due to our wonderful co-hosts, Jon and Mark, one of whom was recently referred to as my BF- boyfriend. That's weird.

Who decides when and if someone becomes a BF or BG? In this case, it was a friend I was chatting with online. My friend and I were talking about our romantic prospects at Thanksgiving. He was going to spend the holiday with a woman he had met in the Peace Corps in Niger, and I was spending the weekend with Jon. A few days after the holiday, my friend and I picked up the thread of our previous turkey day conversation, and that is when he referred to Jon as my BF.

Despite labels, Jon is Jon, and he gave me a plush gift on Saturday- a QQ stuffed penguin joining the friendship circle of my fuzzy teddy bear and pudgy monkey. May he be a happy QQ penguin in their midst.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Hand warm feet warm sleep! Impulse Buy

electrothermal water bag pillow for heating my hands and feet
photo shot with my Mac cam

It was a crazy-sort of impractical (but also practical because I need the heat) impulse buy when I was in the grocery store today. The product is a "utility model hand heater electrothermal water bag for heating hydrothermal body heat" according to the description on the box. What this means is that it's a plastic pillow with a gelatinous substance inside that heats up to boiling in about 4 minutes. The company, Meilu Electrical Appliance Factory, makes similar designs of the same pillow, which you can see on the company website.

Three of the seven characteristics to enhance the quality of this product include:

1. Hand warm feet warm sleep;

2. the use of simple easy to carry;

3. and, ideal for heating is a new generation.

I just hope it doesn't burn down the house!

About Me

My photo

What do I do? That’s a question with more depth than the deceiving three-word construction would lead us to believe.

I live on planet earth with other folks, and I’m involved in the field of education and learning. I’m a life-long learner with a passion for knowledge and the process of bending bits of ideas into new constructions of beauty.