Saturday, 30 October 2010

Island Boy Sets His Eyes On The World

China Foreign Affairs University Sophomore, Huang Xiaochun (left) with Caribbean Journalist Programme Participant from Barbados Colin Wiltshire at the Great Wall at Badaling

Island Boy Sets His Eyes On The World

This Blogger visited visited China for two weeks and among the many wonderful encounters was making friends with China Foreign Affairs university sophomore, Huang Xiaochun, who is majoring in International Studies, including fluency in English and Spanish.

Xiaochun, tell us about your home?

“I am from the tropical resort island of Gulangyu in the South of China. I had to take a five-minute ferry to go to high school on the mainland. My father was a Customs official and my mother manages a 12-room guest house. We live in an apartment very near to the guest house. I can never sleep until late at home because the tourists walking past my bedroom window on their way to the beach make a lot of noise.”

Do you have any siblings?

“My family is a member of the She ethnic minority group, so under China’s family planning policy, my parents were allowed to have two children. My sister is 16, four years younger than me.”

How did you get interested in a career in the foreign service?

“From I was 14 years old I helped my mother at the guest house. I liked meeting people, learning another language and learning about cultures. I decided to attend a foreign language high school and prepare myself to represent my country in the field of diplomacy. I did not have to do a university entrance exam because I graduated from this special school. I want to help my country to be developed, especially for the peasants who devote their whole lives providing food for us. While we enjoy our success we should remember them. We are in the same nation and the same world: one humanity.”

What do you do as a hobby?

“I like volunteering and I am a member of the Greenpeace NGO and of the global youth organisation AIESEC (AIESEC is Association Internationale de Etudiantes en Sciences, Economiques et Commerciales) at my university. I was selected as a volunteer coordinator for this Caribbean Professional Journalist Programme. I do not get paid for this and I still attend my classes.”

Do you do sports?

“I do not play on a team but I do many activities with my friends such as swimming, table tennis, cycling, football, basketball, and especially billiards. Billiards is very popular where I am from and we follow the professionals on Taiwan television. Of course I follow the career of the famous Chinese basketball player, Yao Ming, who plays for the Houston Rockets in the USA. I also follow English Professional Snooker Player, Ronnie "Rocket" O'Sullivan.”

Do you follow fashion?

“Not really. I buy for comfort and quality but do not follow brand names.”

What is your favourite music?

“I like the Taiwanese R&B/Rap entertainer Jay Chou and the American groups Cold Play and Green Day.”

What about reggae music?

“I have never heard about reggae music. Maybe I have heard it but I do not know the name. I listen to music but do not dance.”

Do you go clubbing?

“No. I do not know any. Nightclubs are not allowed near to schools and universities in Beijing.”

What is your favourite food?

“I do not have a favourite food but like to try Chinese dishes from different provinces. When I travel home for the holidays on the train my friends and we will come off along the way for a few hours and try new food.”

Favourite Movie Stars

“Tom Cruise, especially in the movie Top Gun. I also recently saw the movie Inception.”

Are you religious?

“My mother is Buddhist and prays a lot. She selected a scripture passage for me when I was going away to university to encourage me and I keep the text on my computer desktop. I think about the future a lot and try to make a plan.”

What are your dreams of family life?

“I would like to get married and have two children, hopefully a girl and a boy like my parents. My girlfriend and I were in high school together and we have been dating now for three years. She is attending another university in Beijing.”

Which countries would you like to visit?

“Our neighbour India, and also South Africa and the USA.”

Please explain the meaning of your first name.

“My name, Xiaochun, is made up of two Chinese characters. The first means knowledge and the second means a clean mind. My name therefore is that although I must gain a lot of knowledge about a lot of things, I must also keep my mind pure and clean.”

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Good Girls Finish First

Good girls finish first. We will celebrate that today when the St Hugh's Past Students Association recognises Dr Janice Palmer Tomlinson as the Distinguished Past Student for 2010.

Janice has given service to the Association and the school in so many ways over the years and is also recognised as a leading citizen of Spanish Town where she practices dentistry. The Lions Club of Spanish Town has already acknowledged her contribution to that community.

Last year, the Association honoured three past students at the 110th anniversary banquet in honour of the school and it was so great to see all the ladies who turned out in their party best for that occasion. I will not be able to be at the AGM meeting tonight, but do hope that more ladies who want to be counted as doing something good in the community come out and pledge to work. Volunteering is never easy, but it makes you grow as a person in so many ways....if you survive. Congratulations Janice and thanks.

Photos from the glittering SHHS 110th banquet here

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Death of a Firefly (The Princess and the Frog)

"What happening?" the Toddler asked.
The animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog showed a firefly, whose light had gone out, gently cradled in a leaf and set afloat by his friends while sombre music played. In his year-and-a-half lifetime of watching cartoons he had never seen anything like this and could not understand. It was also the first time ever that he had ever asked me to explain something on TV.

"He died," I said, "And his friends are saying goodbye."

Explaining death caught me unprepared, but this is how it will be if I live in a way that will expose this child to difficult and complex topics and situations.

We kept watching the animation. During the crying, a new light shone down from the sky and then all of the firefly's friends were happy and really joyful. It was a kind and gentle treatment that I will cherish. Disney has helped us through deaths of beloved characters, think of Bambi's mother. Thank you Disney for that soft step in that difficult area. Handling death in storytelling is a very important task. It is not always going to be easy though. One of my nieces covered her ears when I retold the outcome of the hand-to-hand combat between Achilles and Hector in the story of Troy. Said she was not old enough to hear that story.

Playing With Little Wave

Photo taken by Kingstown Harbour, in St Vincent
Playing With Little Wave
On my list of not smart decisions, in which I will continue to revel, was wading at Fort Clarence Beach, Portmore after nearly a week of heavy rains. It turned out to be one of the most pleasant beach trips I have had with Toddler.

The overcast sky was not too dark to find and then to cherish a brown shell and a white shell each small enough to hold in one palm of a small hand. They were released so that the same hands could dig for a crab who we did not see struggle to emerge. It probably had alternative exits to its burrow; cleverly spaced to avoid detection.

Pelicans riding low currents keenly marked fish, occasionally collapsing their wings to cut the busy water and reach for prey. I do not think we saw a successful catch, but from there it was an easy move to the water's edge to interact with Little Wave. We played the game of keeping balance as Little Wave magically kept melting the sand from beneath our feet.

Little Wave was not cold, was not rough, just moving enough to circle ankles and roll the smallest stones and shells around. While we played, the remnants of a plastic bag slithered by in the watery sand just beyond the shore.

We left three ladies on the high sand sitting beside a score of similar bags that were full and tied. I imagined that they contained seaweed and sea grass that had been thrown up on the shore but that was not correct. The passing weather was not enough to churn the sea and cause it to release its gardens to the land. It was garbage plain and simple. The beach property beside this one did not have cleaners to gather refuse so it was was strewn with litter, mostly plastics.

Little Wave accepted fistfulls of sand and kicks that caused it to splash. It was a safe playmate, but playing with Little Wave was not the most sensible thing to do. The sea held a slight tint of green that was not a reflection of the sky but lovely blooms of algae thriving in nutrient-rich river water and speedily-released effluent from the treatment plant. I hope a little Dettol in the bath water will kill them as I will treasure today's joy of playing with Little Wave.