Greetings from December


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December 8th 2009
Published: December 8th 2009
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(currently listening to: Carlos Paredes)

Hello anyone reading,

First, an important announcement: My plane ticket home is finally, finalllly booked! I depart Chengdu 4 p.m. local time Jan. 14, and arrive in Phoenix just after 11:30 p.m. the same day (due to the quirks and skullduggeries of crossing several time zones in succession). That gives me a whopping 4 days of Winter Break before Spring semester at ASU! But no worries, my next semester's class schedule looks to be pretty 轻松(relaxed, easygoing).

Now, trying to think if there's anything important about my life right now that I could tell everyone. ...I went to my students' campus last Saturday to help anyone who needed help or wanted to chat--out of the 70ish students who expressed interest, only 4 showed up. A little disappointing, but I was really, really able to concentrate on helping out those four students, especially the two who stayed almost the entire three hours I was there. I helped them prepare for an English reading/listening proficiency exam they have to take outside of class next week, giving them hints on how to most effectively take foreign language tests (something I have recent exp. in) and clarifying subtle differences between words like "projected" and "speculated." Differences I'd never thought upon myself until called to explain to a non-native English speaker. I really might need to take some linguistics classes when I return to the States ...

Meeting more and more interesting people every day. We have a new speaking teacher for Spanish, Diego from Equador. He's a hilariously expressive, lighthearted, boisterous person, and his S. American spoken Spanish makes a captivating comparison to Alex's refined, austere Spain-ish. I'm currently more inclined to the S.American style of speaking, partly because I'm most likely going to be using Spanish to speak to Mexicans (who also don't speak Spanish quite like the Spaniards), and party because it just seems so expressive and I like to have fun when I speak. Coming with me now is the program coordinator for the U.Washington students here. He's only 22 but speaks fluent Chinese, and is currently studying Uigher, the language (most closely resembling Turkish) of the natives of China's Xinjiang province and surrounding areas. He's also, like me, currently trying to decide which languages to pursue right now, and how many. Another over-ambitious wonderkid, we get along pretty well.

...I've been talking with several very intelligent Chinese friends here about what it means to be a "developed" country versus a "developing" country, and what China needs most and what it already has, etc. It's made me think a lot about the nature of cultural identity, and how perception of international relations changes drastically simply based upon where a person is born and whether they come to travel to other places later in life. But my thoughts on this aren't completely organized, so I may instead put this together into an article or short nonfiction piece this weekend or otherwise in the near future.

One especially insightful statement from a friend last week: The West expects China to be fully socially reformed NOW, 30 years (or less) after its economic development began. It took many Western nations as many as 100 years after the Industrial Revolution for social reform to catch up to economic/technological reform (16 hr/day child factory labor in Europe/USA, anyone?). China also plans to have their country fully reformed and developed within 100 years, economically then socially. Why do//How can Western superpowers expect China to push social reform faster than they themselves did historically? (not my opinion, but a piercingly insightful devil's advocate stance to the traditional Western-Chinese relations POV)

Been missing home this week, for the first time this semester, really. I mean, like, really, really , thinking about coming back home with anticipation. But, then again, I'm also thinking every day of reasons I don't want to leave this city, or reasons why I don't want to stop studying this language so intensively. And a large part of the longing for home is probably related to recent difficulties in my personal life here (nothing too serious or worth discussing on the big wide/World Wide Web). But no worries-- I received a heartwarming//motivation-sustaining package from Dad and Hannah today, and my sister's photos and artwork are in my desk and taped on my mirror, respectively. Thanks for the package!
(Although the letter said there was a National Geographic enclosed, and I didn't see it ... was it lost in transit somehow, or confiscated, or what?)

Love y'all, Tye
...Thanks for the package, Dad,

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8th December 2009

That situation is always just tough for awhile, but we've discussed that. You're doing the right thing. I'm so excited to pick you up at the airport! I feel like I can't wait a whole month. I'll have to clear the fabric and costume projects out of your room though.
9th December 2009

from home
thanks as usual for the update on everything you are involved in Tye...even the slightest things you do mean so much to us back here. Glad the package arrived o.k. (I forgot the magazine....sorry....3 issues waiting for you back home). Can't wait to see you in January. Love Dad and Hannah

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