Recently, things have been improving. In terms of my living conditions, my balcony windows no longer bothers me since I found a way to reduce the amount of noise that it produces when the wind blows at it, moreover, I just learned to cope with it. In terms of adapting to China, on the surface I believe I am somewhat used to China, however, beneath the surface I believe I am suffering from identity crisis. The best analogy to describe this would be a banana. It is yellow on the outside, but white on the inside. I am that banana. When I am with English speaking people (predominately Caucasians), linguistically speaking, I belong to that niche, however on an ethnical level, I am Chinese and even on a cultural level, we have very little in common; on the other hand, when I am with a group of native Chinese, I feel a stronger sense of belonging on superficially, nevertheless, suffer from linguistic limitations and cultural ignorance. It is a frustrating struggle, which I hope, through diligence, hard-work, perseverance, and a touch of humility, I would be able to overcome this challenge and truly live out my identity as a Chinese (Asian)-American.
As for my Nanjing classes, it is challenging in respects to my lack of relevant knowledge pertaining to business and the added challenge of translating and comprehending the lecture in my brain. Furthermore, I am quite nervous about cranking out 5000 character final papers, since as of recent, the Nanjing professors aren’t quite helpful in preparing students to complete that task, instead, most of my lectures offer quite general knowledge that will soon be forgotten, yet, my language skills as a whole, aren’t really improving with the exception of listening comprehension.
In terms of the Flagship courses, I believe they are a bit more helpful than my Nanjing courses, however, again I feel they lack the effectiveness of the pedagogy offered in ICLP Taiwan. Hence, I dedicate my roommate tutoring sessions attempting to imitate the ICLP pedagogy in order to develop my speaking skills.
Community Service （社会服务）
The first place I went to do my community service was at the senior center on March 9th, for roughly two hours. In all honesty, the experience was quite boring. Initially, I thought it was going to be a good opportunity to practice some Chinese with some old folks, but this was a false expectation. In reality, the majority of seniors residing there speak their own dialect, thus, there is no opportunity to have a stellar conversation with them. As a result, I spent two hours watching a Peking Opera show with two grandmas. Nevertheless, the purpose of these endeavors is to serve, which I still believe I accomplished; the two grandmas were still happy to have young company, despite the culture, language, and generational disparity that was present, what matters the most was the three of us shared a moment I guess.
The other place I had a chance to volunteer at was a center for individuals with disabilities. My first impressions and thoughts about the other volunteers and staff personal who serve at this center were that of absolute respect and admonishment. The task of attending to the needs of these individuals are draining and difficult. In the states, I have accumulated some experience concerning teaching and mentoring individuals with special needs, and it wasn’t easy in English, therefore, having to communicate purely in Chinese with these individuals was especially difficult. My inner dialogue with myself involved wrestling with my strong desire to bless these individuals, but lacking the means and the skills to realize that desire. As a result, after one visit there, I cowardly refuse to return due to my own personal struggles concerning individuals with disabilities and the sheer language obstacle that prevailed in the midst of it all.
Senior Centre 银杏树老年人服务中心,
Love and Protection Centre 南京博爱安阳庇护中心
As of present, I completed the community service 15 hour requirement roughly two weeks ago, primarily by going to the Gu Lou hospital. I am completely relieved and proud that I finished this task quickly. Initially, I was extremely excited to volunteer at the hospital, believing that the time I invest there will enhance my Chinese speaking skills and then some. Nevertheless, my childish excitement slowly dissipated with each visit. Essentially, the role of a volunteer is that of an automated organic machine or robot. The scope of the questions that the patients ask are very narrow and repetitive.
From my narrow perspective, it seems that my contribution and service is minuscule, since I believe that ,all in all, the patients would are capable of conducting menial tasks such as scanning a simple barcode to register for an appointment or to pick up medicine. However, possibly from a God-eye perspective, the seemly little, insignificant, and tedious task we conduct within the three-hour window of service can potentially have life-changing or life-saving results. To belittle the 15 hours of volunteer service does no justice to the potential greater implications of our work, which is affecting one person’s life through a brief breathe of kindness and charity.
Rome was not built in one day, surely it started from one visionary, a dreamer, who placed the first brick in place with the imagination and wonders of it’s grandeur purpose as the ancient stone that makes up the great coliseum. In the same manner, if one wishes to make an impact on a colossal scale, hypothetically, all that is needed to create that initial momentum is that first act of grace, kindness, and charity.
The previous paragraph is very romantic in writing, in actuality, living out this mindset and ideal is a completely different story. In the process of serving, Julia and I were both frustrated at our inability to fully provide satisfying answers to the patients, due to the fact that we were unfamiliar with health and medicine related terminologies, moreover, some of the patients were spoke with a strong accent or were flat out rude to us. Despite the obstacles we faced, which if we were to rehearse to the doctors or nurses currently employed at that hospital, would yield laughable responses. That’s fine. We just need to suck it up and learn how to complain less, while simultaneously increasing our efficiency and effectiveness in servicing people through communication via English and Chinese, on-duty or off-duty, this is truly the goal.
Gulou Hospital 鼓楼医院
Sun Yatsen Mausoleum (Zhongshan Ling) (中山陵 )
Xiaoling Tomb of Ming Dynasty (明孝陵)
Sun Yat-sen Memorial of Nanjing
ShiZiQiao BuXingJie （狮子桥步行街）
Confucius Temple Area 夫子庙
Old East Door（老门东）
Chinese Flagship Spring 2015 Cohorts
*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship
2/23/15 – 3/19/15