Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tomorrow is the first day of the semester of Spr 2008

I planed to write a thirty page journal this winter for practice English writing, but I didn’t finish it. Tomorrow is the first of the new semester, but until tonight, I got total 26 pages only. I think it is all right and I don’t want to force myself to write four pages more right now. At least I wrote something. My husband asked me many times and wondered how I can find many things to write. I know my journal is rather random and poor organized, but if my goal is for practice, I think it is not a totally meaningless thing.

For the new semester, I have two Anthropology courses on Monday and Wednesday, two history courses on Tuesday and Thursday morning, and two East Asian Study courses on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. I like the even schedule of my courses although the job seems a little bit heavy on Tuesday and Thursday. I wish I can handle all the six courses well. If I have to drop one, all my following plans have to change consequently, I really don’t want to see that.

I got 26 page journal this winter

Although I drink lots of tea everyday since I was a child and believe I am already used to caffeine, I found I could not fall into sleep well after drinking coffee at night since last year. Also, if I drink two or more cup of coffee one day, I will feel my heart turns to drum too fast to be considered regular. Therefore, I altered my habit recently. If I want to drink coffee, I have it before noon. For my body, coffee is much stronger than tea.

Yesterday I had lunch at 2 pm with two friends. We sometimes hand out and enjoy the varied foods in our community that both from the worldwide areas such as Vitamin, Thailand, Malaysian and the different regions of Chinese such as Sichuan, Canton, Shanghai. We all believe that it is really a great advantage to have so much delicious foods for living big cities. I think probably that is a repay for urban people who have to lose many beautiful things of nature that we should possess originally. Since the ultimate goal of us was not on food, but meeting friends and celebrating the last time of our winter break, we paid more attention on the conversation during and after the meal. The restaurant we picked was well-decorated and pretty quiet. We did not leave immediately after meal; instead, we sat here hours more to have drink and conversations. For this reason, I ordered a cup of coffee to indulge myself. I though 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon was early and security enough to have a cup of coffee. In fact, the so-call “French Coffee” was indeed both smell and taste great. Because of this a cup of coffee, I felt this afternoon and the conversation with my friends turned to be very enjoyable.

However, when I went to bed at night and suffered from sleeplessness, I discovered the decision I made in the afternoon was a totally wrong. I went bed at 1 o’clock, after a two hour struggle, I dropped into sleep at around 3. If you think that it was not too bad, I had to admit that I waked up several time after that during the night, opening my eyes and lying on the bed. I felt that I recalled all the happenings in my life but the dawn was still far away. Finally, I was so delighted to find it was 7 o’clock and I could get up. It was certainly not a good experience. I wish it will not happen again.

This morning I went the post office to ship a book that I sold from the Internet. I have continued selling two books lately. I guess that is because the new semester is coming and many students are seeking books. I don’t have to buy books from the Internet although the prices here are usually considerably cheaper than in college bookstores. As a part of the Financial Aid, a certain amount of money, usually $380, will be deposited to my account before the beginning of a new semester for purchasing textbooks only. For some students who register the courses related to science, the textbooks are often expensive. Moreover, they are often required to buy the newest edition books that means there are less used books available to them. For this reason, they feel the amount of money from the government is too small to meet they need. For instance, one of my friends was upset by a late payment from her work study money because she needed the money to buy textbooks right now and could not wait the next pay period two week later. She told me that it cost more than two hundred dollars for only one psychological course. I think I can understand her difficulty if one course cost more than two hundred dollars, how can $380 covers the book fee for five courses. In contrast, I have no such a problem at all. Although there are always some primary and outside readings for history courses, the books are often less expensive and sometimes old editions are acceptable. According to my experience, fifty dollars for each history course is an average cost.
I remember in last semester after I bought all my text books, plus a lot of additional notebooks, print papers, pens and some unnecessary stuffs such as academic planners, cards, and even a small gift for my friend, there was still around a hundred dollars remaining in my account. Thus, I went to the college bookstore again and bought two $20 Metro Cards, a rug with Queens College logo, and a dictionary. I relieved after I finally spent all the money seems as I completed a tough job. Since this semester I have one more course than last semester, I wish I will no longer worry about how to spend all my money.

I went American Folk Art Museum today. Before the visiting, I did some research from the Internet. The admission is $ 9 for adult and $7 for students and senior citizens. Based on the information, I assumed that the museum should be very large and I planed a whole day tour for it. However, I found two or three hours was enough to visit overall of this museum later. In fact, the museum is free for everybody on Friday 5:30 to 7:30. If I knew the whole visiting needed only two hours, I would choose to go at Friday night instead.

Many exhibitions here are from German communities in Pennsylvania and Jewish communities in Brooklyn. There are quilts, papercut, wood carving. Some wood horses are extremely vivid and have placed in Coney Island before.

Because of the interesting trip in the American Folk Art Museum, I decided to visit one or two more museums the next day, the last day before the beginning of spring semester of 2008.

I went the Brooklyn Museum of Art as I planed. The ticket is four dollars. When I was buying the ticket, the staff told me that the suggestion admission was four dollars. I still paid four although I wondered that I might pay less. Despite the lower price, the Brooklyn Museum is larger than Folk Art Museum. I arrived here at 10:40 and left at 5 o’clock. I enjoy reading the words of introduction and explanation. By doing that, I practice on English reading and gain various knowledge in the same time. I wondered slowly in the halls in the museum and tried to read the words on wall or in display windows but it was impossible. I like friends but sometimes enjoy doing something alone as well. For example, if there were some friends with me today, I might not have such a leisure manner to enjoy the art world to my heart’s content.

After the visiting, I went to the museum shop and bought a nice notebook for writing journals. I have been writing journals since I was fifteen. I have accumulated eight notebooks. I treasure them up despite the ordinary and simply of my life. Maybe my life has no significance for the world or somebody else, it is absolute important for me. This is the reason I think that it is worthy to pay a high price to buy a good notebook to record one of two years of my life.

This semester I am working on Saturday from 11 to 4, Wednesday night and Friday morning for totally 11.5 hours per week. I have never been worked on weekend since I work in Media Center two years ago. I will see how it is.

Because there was no job offered in Media Center in the winter, I worked in Stack department seven days. This was the first time I worked in a department other than Media Center. Despite the time was short, I got a clear idea that jobs in my department are much easies than many other jobs in the library, which I didn’t realize before. Although my coworkers and I often complain the busyness around middle and final exam seasons in Media Center, or some students who come to bother us, or the less obvious indifference of the supervisor, we have to admit the advantages here. If we only work when somebody comes; if not, we can use computers, reading our own books, or doing whatever we like. Some students even chat online by MSN. Particularly, in the beginning of every semester, it is often only a very few people come to check out laptops or borrow DVDs. For example, today, the first Saturday of this semester, there is nobody coming to check out laptops during the whole day. I did many things to spend the time, surfing the Internet, working on my blogs, talking with my coworkers, and reading a novel. In contrast, if you work in Stack department, you have to work constantly. Although there is a half hour break for every five hours in Stack but no break in Media Center, I still feel the jobs in Stack department are tougher.

My husband’s teacher is asking him through me to buy two books from the US. My husband emailed me the ISBN numbers and the titles of the two books and I quickly found them from Because they are both old editions, the prices of them are unbelievably low. The one around five hundred pages cost 2 dollars and another smaller one cost only seventy-five cents. Plus the shipping fee, the total charge is 12 dollars. This morning, before going to work, I packed and shipped them in a post office in Flushing. The package was more than five pounds. I was told that it could neither be shipped by Media Mail nor by sea. As a regular air mail, the cost is up to $ 41.6. I was worried about the transport fee might be too high. Especially compare to the price of the books. When the staff of the post office told me the shipping fee, I wondered if I should call my husband and asked his opinion first. However, after a double thinking, I believed that even though the shipping fee was indeed high, since I have already bought the books, I had no reason to deny shipping them.

Leaving the post office, I bought a cup of milk tea and a piece of cake in a Chinese bakery, and then walked back to my school. I counted the time and believed that I had enough time to get school on time without taking a bus. I even had an extra twenty minters to eat my breakfast. The worker in the Chinese bakery didn’t do a good job; she didn’t close the paper cup well. When I arrived at college and tried to eat my food, I found the cup of milk tea was leaking badly. Fortunately, there was a plastic bag outside the paper bag otherwise my bag and all the stuffs in my bag would be wetted. I gained as experience that it was necessary to double check if you ordered some food for take out.

I called my father on the way to school. Since I had called him several times on Sunday morning, he is used to the morning call recently. At every Saturday night, he does the preparation for his daughter’s call. The wireless telephone should be full charged and put near by his pillow in order to pick and answer it immediately when it rings. After hearing my mother description of my father’s funny deeds, I feel it is my duty to call him every Sunday even though sometimes I really lack of time to do that. My mother has told me, “Your father is waiting for your call excitedly on every Sunday morning. If your call doesn’t come, he will be badly disappointed and repeatedly asks why. Sometimes he sighs and says, ‘Oh, our daughter has not called us in the long time.’ but you had just called him a few days ago. I am laugh at his action; he is indeed like a kid”. Although my mother misses me and is longing for talking with me too, if my father is at home, my father will occupy the majority of time to talk and leaves little opportunity to my mother.

To my surprise, today was my mother answered my phone when I called. I suspected that my father might not at their bedroom. My mother explained what happened. Before I called, one of her friends called. After she answered it, the telephone was left on her side; thus, when my call came, she but not my father answered it.

I talked with my mother less than ten minters, and then she passed the phone to my father. Despite my mother’s kindness and understanding, the first words my father said exposed his jealous, “When you was talking with your mother, I can only stay by the side and listen to you.” I understand he is not satisfied by being an onlooker at all. He is always the center and the superstar in my home. Ha.

In fact, there is often no something significant but rather random talking between my father and me. From the weekly phone call, I am not only aware all the colleagues in my father’s office, but know the personalities of each of them too, which of course due to my father’s chatter. In addition, my father’s topics are not only limited in family and his work union, but go beyond that and related to the economy, history, and politics of China as well as the world. When I told him I visited American Folk Art Museum and was interested by the wood carving. I further told him the most wood carving were made by Russian Jewish people who immigrated to the US mainly during early 20th century and they had a long tradition of wood carving. My father is so clever and acknowledgeable. He replied instantly, “Do you know why they have such a tradition? There are two major reasons. First, there is abundant woods resource in Russia which meets the basic material demand for carving. Second, living a cold region, Russian people has to stay inside door during long winter seasons; carving is just a fit indoor practice.” I think my father’s explanation makes sense.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The extra paper for my African history course

The Diverse Roles of African Chiefs during Colonial Africa

Since 1880s, European colonies were increasing rapidly in Africa. Until 1915, with a very few exception, all the African countries became European colonies. Colonialism not only became the main feature of Africa in this period but also made heavy influence on all aspects of African societies. Since the direct contact between European colonists and common Africans was limited, chiefs, the legitimate leaders of the traditional African tribes, turned into the key figures to cope with both sides. They probably encountered the most challenges and their positions and functions had been considerably changed. African chiefs did not have the same attitudes towards the European conquerors and colonialism; in fact, their reactions were very diverse. For many chiefs who were nominated by Europeans rulers, they logically stood on the European side to rule Africans. Some chiefs approached and served Europeans for self-interest. In contrast, some chiefs were concerned with their territories and the nation’s independence and made indomitable resistance against colonialism. In addition, the example of Yoko indicated that female chiefs could also possess important position and influential power during colonial Africa.
In many cases, African chiefs were nominated by European rulers. While Europeans colonized Africa by military force, they faced the problem of ruling the vast territories and diverse groups. Due to the small population of Europeans in Africa and the language gaps between the colonists and the indigenous people, it was impossible for Europeans replaced all the African chiefs and then ruled all their colonies by themselves. However, they disliked the idea of leaving African self-rule by native chiefs, too. Finally, Europeans promoted a compromise as the final solution; they nominated African chiefs to govern African people. This solution could avoid the difficulty of direct rule but still ensure European’s efficient control over Africans. The British believed, “we are denying self-government to the people over whom they rule, and supporting an alien caste – albeit closer and more akin to the native races than a European can be.”[1] This ideal was generally practiced in Africa. For example, “in Kenya the government nominates the chiefs, instead of allowing the African people the right of electing their own chiefs.”[2]
In fact, the nominated chiefs were mostly to fulfill European ruler’s needs rather than representing African’s rights and benefits. Because of their superior power in economy and military, Europeans could attract some capable Africans to assist them. However, the guide of how Europeans nominated chiefs was not only based on an African’s talent but also depended on his proactive attitude of cooperation and obedience with Europeans. Consequently, the chiefs who were employed by European gradually became European’s tools to exploit Africans. They often ignored, or even hurt, African’s rights and benefits. For this reason, they received serious criticism from other Africans. “Chiefs who are nominated by European officials cannot win the confidence of the people over whom they are imposed.”[3] Also, Africans were worried that “when a chief is appointed by the government, and his administration is corrupt, the people of that district are placed in an unhappy position.”[4]
Another large number of chiefs were mostly concerned with their own position and benefits; they co-operated with Europeans and were usually hostile towards Africans. Through the increasing contact with Western countries, many new concepts were introduced. The traditional values of African societies were gradually undermined. A chief no longer had to win the respect from all the villagers or take the full responsibility for all tribes. In addition, the chiefs who worked with European rulers often had poor moral standards. They believed in power, money, and their superior status only, and considered their position as an opportunity to gain benefits for themselves and their families. As Ngugi Wa Thiong’s describes in his novel, Weep Not, Child, “Howlands had in fact helped Jacobo to get permission to grow pyrethrum. In turn Jacobo had helped him to recruit labour and gave him advice on how to get hard work from them.”[5] Those chiefs did not really mind being servants for Europeans but tried very hard to keep their unparalleled position among their own people. When Jacobo noticed Ngotho’s increasing influence and came to Mr. Howlands, saying, “[Ngotho] may be the real leader of Mau Mau.”[6] He wished Mr. Howlands believed his words and would decide to kill Ngotho.
Despite the chiefs advised the European rulers and behaved obediently, it was clearly that they could never receive any trust and respect from European rulers. Europeans usually despised them for their behaviors. Although colonists certainly had sympathy towards neither African chiefs nor African people, from some certain points, they might show respect to some common people for their spiritual power rather than to those wicked chiefs. For example, Ngotho was a poor villager who had a sincere faith towards his ancestors’ land. He put all his passions to work on the land. For this reason, Mr. Howlands, a British colonist, was inspired by his character and “just loved to see Ngotho working in the farm.”[7] In contrast, “Mr Howlands despised Jacobo because he was a savage. But he would use him.”[8]
In comparison with those nominated chiefs, other native chiefs often held a hostile attitude towards European conquerors and offered severe resistance. While the European “Scramble” spread in Africa at the end of the 19th century, African resistance leading by African chiefs took place on British and French colonies in east, north-central, and west Africa. For instance, in western Africa, Samori commanded a large army who was well-armed with muskets and rifles. When the French invaded the north, he ordered a “scorched-earth” policy, which destroyed the crops in the heartland of the empire and whole villages were ruined. But it meant that the French army ran short of supplies and had to abandon their invasion in 1892.[9] African chiefs also promoted the spirit from ancient chiefs in order to inspire their contemporaries. “In addition the state was strengthened by a unifying sense of Mandinka nationalism which recalled the glories of the ancient Malian empire.”[10]
Yoko was another example that represented female chiefs who skillfully dealt with Europeans and had an important influence on Colonial Africa. As mentioned in the introduction, one of the most important challenges of colonial chiefs was to cope with European rulers, the subchiefs, and the common people. In fact, Yoko was just such a talented woman who successfully influenced both the British and subchiefs of confederacy.[11] During her reign from 1885 to 1906, the territories of Sierra Leone were expanded dramatically. Along with her co-wife and her husband’s sister, Yoko had sent a letter to the colonial government to express their determination to settle their tribe issues. This case represented “the authority and influence wielded by high-ranking women in later nineteenth-century Mende country.”[12]
Because of the huge impact of colonialism and the social chaos, the chiefs’ roles were dramatically altered and became very diverse in Colonial Africa. Some chiefs resisted European invaders, but some assisted Europeans and took advantage of their chief position. Also, some capable female chiefs were influential in this period too. Moreover, through analyzing the diverse roles of African chiefs in Colonial Africa, the complicatedly social and political situation in this piece of history is represented.
[1] Frederick Lugard, “The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa: Methods of Ruling Native Races,” Course packet, 187.
[2] Parmenas Mockerie, “An African Speaks for His People,” Course Packet, 181.
[3] Parmenas Mockerie, “An African Speaks for His People,” Course Packet, 181.
[4] Parmenas Mockerie, “An African Speaks for His People,” Course Packet, 181.
[5] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 78.
[6] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 79.
[7] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 29.
[8] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 77.
[9] Kevin Shillingto, History of Africa. (London: Macmillan, 1990), 307.
[10] Kevin Shillingto, History of Africa. (London: Macmillan, 1990), 307.
[11] Mame Yoko and Others, “Letter from the Women of Senehun,” Course packet, 182.
[12] Esi Sutherland-Addy and Aminata Diaw, Women Writing Africa:West Africa and the Sahel. (New York: Feminist Press, 2005), 146.

My final paper of African History course

The Important Position of the English Language in Colonial Africa

It is true that from the linguistic point of view, every language is equally important, beautiful, and applied. However, sometimes, when a certain language is put in a particular social context, the situation is going to be changed dramatically. For example, during the colonial Africa, English was something else that far more than a language. From the political aspect, English was a weapon Africans had to use in order to fight for freedom and equality. It was also microphone that made Africans’ opinions was possible to be heard in the world. Moreover, the English language made strong impact on ordinary African people’s lives too. People fluently speaking in English could obtain better job opportunities and move to higher social level. Although it is a rational concern that the widespread English could undermine African original languages and culture, the English language has made significant contribution on the political and economical aspects throughout colonial Africa; it was indispensable for both the African nations’ liberation and the common people’s everyday lives.
Acquiring English was one of the important factors that allowed Africans to make effect in the abolitionism in the nineteenth century. Slavery was a two-side issue related to European slave owners from one side and African slaves from another side. Before the emergence of African English writers and speakers, the Africans’ life, feeling, suffering was ignored; the Europeans’ enormous misdeeds were possible to be deliberately hid. Although it is not true that in Europe and North America, everybody supported slavery and tolerated the dehumanization toward Africans, people believed in justice were blinded by the voice from only one side; consequently, Africans received little assistance from the potential resources. However, while Africans who learned English, a nearly boundless new world opened for them. They could communicate and conduct with people who were friendly and willing to help, but debating, arguing and challenging with some people who were hostile and appositive on the way of African’s liberation. Africans’ will and opinions became available to the world; their influence was increasing and they were closer to their dream of freedom and equality.
Olaudah Equiano can be considered a good example that former African slaves learned English and used inspire more people rising up to against the slavery. Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano Written by Himself, was an influential abolitionist book in Britain that first published in 1789 and went through eight editions in 1790s. This book, from the description of Equiano’s personal experience, reflected the miserable fact that all the African slaves encountered. Equiano’s depiction was vivid and impressive; especially, at that moment African slaves were shipped and about to set off from their homeland. Equiano said that he was terrified by the idea that “[he] had gotten into a world of bad spirits and that they were going to kill [him].”[1] Also, he said, “Indeed such were the horrors of my views and fears at the moment that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own, I would have freely parted with them all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest slave in my own country.”[2] He accused the whites were “in so savage a manner.”[3] Because of Equiano’s English capability, he offered Europeans valuable first hand information of how European slave owners brutal treated towards Africans and what the actual lives of Africans were. Besides writing books in English, Equiano delivered speech in the public in British towns and cities. He was considered that he “must be given at least some of the credit for the act of Parliament in 1807 that abolished the British slave trade.”[4]
While Equiano used English to make influence and gain understanding and support from Europeans, Nelson Mandela, a famous African political leader, used English as a tool to fulfill his political duty, fighting for freedom and equality for his country and people. Because of his fluent English, Mandela could easily communicate with whites, delivering speeches in public, and organizing protests and negotiations. His autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, which presented his excellent English writing skill, was inspiring and very enjoyable to be read. In fact, this book was not only about his personal life, but promoted the African issues to be known by both Africans and people in the rest world. The audiences of this book include whites and blacks, commoners and elites. In short, Mandela’s English capability directly contributed to his political life.
In addition, Mandela’s early life experience represented how African intellectuals took a serious concern on education and English. Mandela’s father was a chief in the local tribe and an advisor of kings, a typical elite in African society. Through his career and life experience, it is reasonable to assume he was a thoughtful man and keenly understood the meaning of education and English language to his son’s future. Although the narrative about him occupied a little length in the book, the fact that he entrusted the regent to be Mandela’s guardian before his death revealed how he was wise. Indeed, supported by the regent, Mandela attended school and studied English and other subjects since nine years old.[5] Because of the decision and effort from his father and the regent, Mandela was walking into a path of great accomplishment though it was indeed difficult.
Mandela himself had a strong belief on English study too. He had done all the courses in English that were required for a B.A..[6] After he attended the University of the Witwatersrand, he valued that “the English-speaking universities of South Africa were great incubators of liberal values.”[7] Also, Mandela’s life in Johannesburg was an important period in his life in which he completed his B.A. and got his first job in a law office. His English skill became a necessary tool to fulfill his ambition to become a lawyer and a future political leader.
A common village boy, Njoroge, in Weep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, possesses same the enthusiasm for education and English language as well as the political leader Mandela had. In the very beginning of this book, there is a conversation between Njoroge and his mother. Njoroge shows his zeal to study, despite the difficulty of the family, his mother decides to support him. The motivation of Njoroge’s strong will to go to school is not to be a political leader or for any great ambition, but, as his brother suggests and he agrees, to “have a new and better home for the whole family.” [8] Njoroge is an example to represent the common Africans who expected through study English to improve the financial and social situation of themselves or their families.
There is a point that may be worthy of further explanation. Strictly speaking, Education is a much broader field than English study. However, because of the particular situation in colonial Africa, English became the synonym of education. English meant education, and education meant a good future and to be rich. “A knowledge of English was the criterion of a man’s learning.”[9] In the book Weep not, Child, the author describes Njoroge’s understanding of education as, “I think Jacobo is as rich as Mr Howlands because he got education. And that’s why each takes his children to school because of course they have learnt the value of it.”[10] While Njoroge discusses how the white took all their land with his friend Mwihaki, they conclude that because “There was nobody to teach [black people] English.”[11]
Despite the benefit that English has provided, Africans held a complicated emotion towards English. On the one hand, they demanded it for the subsistence of reasons; on the other hand, it was impossible that Africans considered English as seem as their own languages; after all, it was their enemy’s language. For a more realistic reason, the widespread English language, among with other Western civilization such as Christianity has been undermining African language, culture, and traditions. African children had been thinking that it was a wonderful thing to go to a missionary school. However, while children who attended the schools, they were almost allowed to speak English only. As Wangari Maathai described, to avoid punishment, “Even when [she and her friends] went home or met children from school in the village, [they] tended to speak English.”[12] Through many years under Western education in missionary schools, those children might forget many of their African traditions. When they grow up, because of their education, they will occupy the most important positions in African society. If they spoke English only and preferred western civilization, one has to doubt how the original African languages and culture could be carried on. It is one of the saddest things that a nation or an ethnic group lose their identity. Thus, despite the advantage the English language provided to Africans, the negative aspects of it are necessary of concern.
In conclusion, the English language made a huge impact in colonial Africa. It was not only the weapon the African politicians and elites took to fight for freedom, but also a key that common Africans used to access a richer life and higher social status. For this reason, Africans put an extreme emphasis on it and appropriately valued it as the whole meaning of education. Although there were some challenges to English due to its over influence, the important position of the English language in colonial Africa is doubtless.

[1]Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano Written by Himself. (New York: Houghtom Mifflin, 2004) 118.
[2]Equiano, The Interesting Narrative. (New York: Houghtom Mifflin, 2004) 118.
[3]Equiano, The Interesting Narrative. (New York: Houghtom Mifflin, 2004) 118.
[4] Andrea and Overfield, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano Written by Himself. (New York: Houghtom Mifflin, 2004) 115.
[5] Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. (New York: Little Brown, 1994), 15.
[6] Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. (New York: Little Brown, 1994), 60.
[7] Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. (New York: Little Brown, 1994), 78.
[8] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 4.
[9] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 44.
[10] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 4.
[11] Ngugi wa Thiong’o,Weep Not, Child. (Oxford: Heineman, 1964), 37.
[12] Wangari Maathia, Education and the State of Emergency. (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006) 60.

Set a example for my husband

I am planning to write a thirty page journal in this winter. Until today, there are still thirteen pages I need to work on. I often blame my husband for his lazy and lacking of a spirit of persistency. Thus, I compel myself to complete my plan in order to set a good example for him, also for preserving a right position to criticize him in the future.

This Friday will be the first day of the spring semester of 2008 for all CUNY colleges. I don’t have class on Friday, but I am working from 10 to 1. Also, there is a course from Art History department; the topic is Buddhist Art and Architecture and the professor is Prof. Lin. I have taken Prof. Lin’s course, Survey of Asian Art, two years ago and like him. Despite his accent, his class is very interesting and enjoyable. He doesn’t give students much pressure. From the class I have taken, I knew he requires a middle exam and a final exam for his courses. All questions of the exams are coming from his lecture. If you go to class and take a good note, you will know everything he tests. He gives review before exams, too. In the review, he narrows down the materials that will appear on the exam. In other words, he repeats at least twice about what the students have to know on the exams. I think he has done the best from the side of a teacher. In addition, he offers an opportunity for extra credit, a two page paper. Moreover, Prof. Lin not only makes the exams are reasonable, but his class is fun as well. His slide show is rich and his explanation is fascinating. He has a sense of humor too. I remember our class was at Friday night. When the class ended at 9 PM and students were in hurry to leave, he said, “Don’t go to a bar, go straight back home.”

Two semesters ago he opened a course as Chinese printing. I was delighted to register it. Unfortunately, it was concealed due to too few students registering it. I felt so sorry about that and wish he offers it in the future and more students register it. I have not registered the course of Buddhist Art and Architecture this semester. The reason is I have to put of my major courses on the first line and I couldn’t register excessive courses in one semester. So, I decided to attend his class as a non-credit student a few times in the beginning of the semester since in the beginning of a semester I may have more free time than in the middle and the end.

Today I had lunch with Candy and Joseph. After that, Candy and I studied in the ESL center in the basement in the Flushing library. We met our tutor Barry and studied with him half hour. The topic of our conversation was about the presidential election. Candy is capable to learn something new. She told us how the election going on based on the information she got from TV news. Because I have been a citizen since last year, Barry and Candy asked me whom I am going to vote. I don’t like Herlilar, but I think it is real cool to have a female president in the US. So, I told them I might vote her. Candy said she was on my side. Barry said he didn’t make his decision yet.

After Barry left at four PM, we studied by ourselves for a while. I found a good book, Vocabulary in Use, and read it around two hours. In fact, it is easy to find good books, but it is very difficult to keep studying persistently. When we took break, we talked about the coming Valentine’s Day. Candy said she expected a BF in the days before last Valentine’s Day, but she was still single today. She said that she didn’t strongly want to a BF in normal days, but she indeed badly yearned for a BF accompanying her in Valentine’s Day. She wanted a romantic night, having dinner and movie with a nice guy. She asked me to find a man to her and said that was an assignment she gave to me. She claimed that she needed him only in that certain day. After that, they would become strangers again. Valentine’s Day will be a Thursday in the second week of my new semester. I cannot promise that I can find a real person for her in such a short time although I really want do it to happy my best friend. I believe there are many single men and women in the world who have to stay alone in Valentine’s Day. It is a sad thing that they are missing each other and their lifetime are wasting for waiting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Went to moive with Emma

Last Friday I met my former supervisor, Emma, and some of my co-workers from the college library; we had a movie in the Whitestone Theatre in Bronx together. Emma is the sweetest and smartest woman I have met in the world. When she worked in the library, everybody liked her. She always knows what is your most concern and shows her warmly care. When I wrote emails to her, she corrected my grammar mistakes in my early years in the college. She had the confidence that I could understand and appreciate at her action rather than mad at her. I don’t believe that many people in the world understand this and can run things life this way. I remember once when I met her in the circulation desk, she stretched her face to me, saying, “Give me a kiss.” After I followed her instruction, I realized I have not kissed anybody for a long time. Her active and joyful attitude woke up the softest and deepest part of my emotion. Because Emma’s sociable and popular, she has a lot of friends and seems as always busy on talking. Despite this fact, she still let me feel that I am an important friend for her. After she left, I have not written email to her frequently. Nevertheless, through a few email and postcard contacts, her unique personality is represented lively. She asks me when my husband would come. This is the crucial thing I am concerning lately, and Emma is smart enough to see that. I told her that he might come within a few months. She answered me a very short email, but I love it so much. She wrote, “We’ll all help Cha’s husband find a job, and we’ll have a wonderful welcome party for him.” How does she know we are worrying about the job? How could she always hit the essential point? Among all the people I know, nobody mentions that except Emma. I told my husband about Emma’s email, he said he was touched by it too.

I always demand the best on my study. When I met Emma, I reported my grades to her. I told her that although I had one A+ and three As, I was not completely satisfied by the fact that I also had an A-. I concluded that the grades for last semester were not bad but was not perfect. When she said my grades were fantastic, I told her I had a friend who had three A+ and one A. Emma seemed didn’t get it, asking, “Did all your friends get three A+ and one A?” I answered, “No, only one.” She replied, “So,…”. When I told my husband this story, he couldn’t stop laughing. He admired, “How smart Emma is! I am glad that there is a person in the world who could defeat you.” Since I often complain how difficult my study is but usually can get decent results, my husband has already disturbed by this manner of mine. He feels that my anxiety bases on no reason. Thus, he considers Emma’s questions as a successful attack to me but a proud victory for him.

We watched a movie that called “Orphanage”. I didn’t really like this movie. It narrates a story that a girl raised up in an orphanage. When she grew up she left and many years ago she came back, living in the orphanage and discovering a series of strange things in the place. It is a horror movie but I feel the horror moments and plots don’t real make sense; I think they are not horror but funny. Also, neither the topic nor plot is attractive. After the movie, Emma offered us a ride back to Queens. During the ride, she asked our opinions about the movie even though Candy was my friend and this was the first time Emma met her, she talked with her too. We discussed some points in the movie that confused. Emma explained them one by one to us.

I met Taoran yesterday and we had lunch together in a very nice Chinese restaurant. Last week she emailed me and invited me to have a meal together with her boyfriend and her before the beginning of the new semester. To my surprise, a few later, she left me a text message, saying she broke up with her boyfriend and she wanted to conceal the date. I called her back and said that we could go by ourselves. She was cheered up by my suggestion. In my opinion, men may come and go in our lives; women should always be close friends and support each other. Taoran is a twenty year old nice girl. I still remember the first time I met her when she was working in a Chinese supermarket one year ago. I believe that should be her very beginning American life. One of my friends who worked here asked me to give her a hand because she thought her was a very kind and nice girl. I didn’t do too much for her but only brought her one or two times to the admission center of Queens College to inquire some information. Her English improving quickly and she gradually can handle her situation independently. Since one year ESL study, while she applied Hunter College this January, she passed the writing test of CAT. It is an amazing success that means she is indeed studying very hard.
We ordered three dishes as a chicken, a Tofu, and a shrimp fried rice. Taoran comes from Mianyang, a middle city in Sichuan in which very close to my hometown. For this reason, we have many interests and characteristics in common. For example, we both like to cook. She told me that she has eaten in this restaurant and especially loves Tofu here. The Tofu is lightly fried on the surface but it is as soft and white as the egg inside. She said she tried to cook Tofu in this style in her home but failed. Perhaps there is some secret recipe in it that common people are not easy to figure out.

After meal, Taoran went a store to buy a pair of pants for her mother and I went the Flushing public library. It is a modern equipped three floor building and also the largest library among all the Queens public libraries. In the third floor, there is an International Resource Center. Books and media materials in variety of languages are placed here. Since Flushing is community that predominated by Chinese population, a large amount of Chinese books, magazines, newspapers, and DVDs occupied this center should not be a surprise.

Every time when I pass by the library, I cannot help but just want to go in to take a look. I have already had many books in my home lately that I don’t have enough time to read all of them. Based on such a situation, I come here only for checking the titles of the new books. By doing so, at least, I can get a brief idea that what the hot topics are presently. Also, it is a real joy for me that may be compared to the wonderful feeling a modern woman possessing when she walks along new clothes. In fact, although I have neither intention nor time to read too many books, I do check out a few books every time, pretending I don’t really understand my situation. There are always some books new and attractive that I feel if I miss them that it must a great regret. Thus, my reading list becomes unlimitedly expend and the books I borrowed are impossible to be completely read.

I know what my problem is. There are too many things are fascinating and worthy to study in the world. Despite the fact that I clear understand that I couldn’t study all of the books in the world that I am interested in, I don’t know how properly to select and narrow them down. For English study, I trust the school system and professors’ instructions; thus, the difficult part of it is not on the topic choice but how to perfectly complete the selected topics. In contrast, in my Chinese reading, I have to make all the decisions by myself. For many books, if you don’t read them, how do you know their taste? How much can you trust the criticism in such a commercial world? I have few friends who have interest in Chinese literature in common with me, which means not only I have no people to discuss after reading, but also lack of information sharing among peers. I am blind walking along on the route. What I am doing now is to fulfill the quantity but ignore the quality. I think I have probably read more than twenty books during this winter. But what I really want is to read a few good books and really get valuable ideas from them.

Despite those problems, I am really enjoying in two literature critical books of Hongloumeng lately. One is about Xuebaochai and one is about Lindaiyun, the two main characters of Hongloumeng. I have read the former one a few days ago. When I found the one about Lindaiyun yesterday, I borrowed it without any hesitate. I finished the 370 page book within six hours in the very day, from five thirty until the middle night. Consequently, my English learning plan of the night had to be put off; or in other more accurate words, it was concealed. After reading, I yearned to talk with somebody because some ideas make in this book are brand new and so dramatic and exciting. If I couldn’t pour my ideas out, I felt I might not get sleep at all. Since I have no friends sharing the same interest with me on this topic, although my husband is not a fan of Hongloumeng either, I think that is his obligation to listen to me when I need a listener if he cannot to be a participator. I spent half length of our phone call to talk with him about my reaction of this book. Oh, how poor my husband it! He has to endure such a crazy wife.

Lin and Xue are both extremely intelligent and beautiful girls but they possess two completely opposite personalities. Xue is realistic, rational, sociable, complex, and easy to get along. In contrast, Lin is romantic, poetic, isolated, pure, and difficult to be understood. The author deliberately makes the two figures in contrary manner but put them in an equal important weight. For this reason, who is better between Lin and Xue become a constant question since this book was composed since two hundred years ago and seem as it could not be solved forever.
Nevertheless, for me, it should not be a question at all. I truly understand Lin’s spirit and feel great sympathy for her suffering and struggle. Even though from the common opinion, some of her characteristics may be considered as a kind of weakness, I feel I can understand how the environment shaped them rather than the particular person’s own fault.

Since I strongly support Lin, it is no surprise to know that how deeply I oppose Xue. I totally don’t understand why people admire with her. I denied her on the whole. One critique says, without the spirit of Xue, the society cannot agreeable exist; without the spirit of Lin, the society will lose the energy to innovate and gradually decay. I think that is a reasonable analysis.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Studying grammar in the winter

I am planning to read two books during this winter; however this plan seems impossible to be completed. If I insist in reading one more two or three hundred page book, there is no time leaving for me to study grammar, speaking, writing and doing other things. After weighing gains and losses, I decided to give up the reading plan.

I am studying an intermediate level grammar book, Grammar in Use, lately. The first time I knew this book was many years ago in the public library. Around two years ago, I found one copy from our college sale book shelves by chance. It cost me only fifty cents and I bought it delightedly. Knowing it is an excellent grammar book, I ordered the advanced one of this series of books later from the Internet later; in contrast, this book cost $ 17 as a regular price. At that time, I thought I have been a college student, and the intermediate level was probably too easy to me and the advanced level should just fit my level. However, after I read a couple units of the advanced book, I found it was a little bit difficult for me. Thus, I went back to study the intermediate one. Instead of gaining a great quantity, I believe quality is more important. In this case, I believe that understanding every grammar point in the intermediate book is not as easy as I thought. As I study it again and again, I get much new understandings and sight at some particular points, and they are certainly all very important and useful. For example, before I read this book this time, I don’t know the different between “in the corner”, “on the corner” and “at the corner”. In fact, on the corner and at the corner are same. You can make a sentence as “A man stood on/ at the corner of the street”. However, you have to say “A person stood in the corner of the classroom”, which means he was inside the classroom. Also, I’m not really clear about this usage that we should say a person gets on/ off a bus but gets in / out of a car before. As one more example, do you use “by” like this way, “I’ll come back by six o’clock?” This sentence means I’ll come back before six o’clock or latest at six o’clock. Also, before studying this grammar book, when I wrote a sentence as “I am living my friend’s home for three days,” I often omitted the preposition word “for”. I wish I can avoid this mistake now.

In addition, the grammar of gerund and infinitive are one of the toughest parts for me. I have reviewed the two parts several times and trying to remember them. I am familiar about some words of them; for instance, “I enjoy reading books”, “I avoid doing exercise as possible as I can”, “My friend suggested me giving up this plan.” I also knew the two sentences that “I stop cooking” and “I stop to cook” are both grammatical correct but they have different meanings. The former one means I am cooking but the action presently stops. The latter one means I stop doing something else and then go to cook.

I even enjoy studying grammar. I know I am a boring person, so I can stand to do such a boring thing. In my opinion, life is boring and essential meaningless. I don’t know how other people think about, but I guess that probably they are more optimistic than me.

When I studied about Zen last semester, I was shocked by the idea of eliminating self-center concern. From my point of view, every single human being perceives this world based on his/ her’s self existence. In other word, the world exists only because I can perceive it. If I close my eyes, everything has ceased to exist. I had never thought about the idea of giving up my self-center although after I heard that I have immediately convinced by it. I accept this idea because it can solve the basic question of the meaning of life. What is the ultimate concern of human life? Only when one merges together into his or her society, his or her life can be strong and positive. Living in an isolated individual life is sad, dark and weak. Be honest, I have been suffering by the philosophical problem in a long time.

When I was young, I felt that the only goal of my life was to achieve an outstanding success. I’m not sure how and where I got such an idea but I just tightly possessed it. It was developing gradually and the mistaken idea is also gradually ruining my life. How can I give up this idea and manage my life realistically? Now, I knew if I can really eliminate the self-center thought, I may get a new-born. Also, I think there is a contradictory point within this idea. Let’s consider it like this way, if one completely gives up the idea of self-center, how can he or she avoid falling into an extremely passive life? How can we find a middle way that we can both have optimistic and initiative attitude towards our live and concern ourselves as less as possible?

Yesterday a librarian from the Flushing library, Miss Xie, called me and invited me to attend a meeting tonight. The main part of the meeting is a speech delivering by Yu Qiuyu. I basically dislike this person and was not interested by his speech at all. However, as a person in charge of this meeting, Miss Xie spent time to call people she knows. The reason is more people coming means greater success of her work. Since Miss Xie is a person whom I respect, I don’t want to refuse her invitation. Also, despite my personal prejudiced view of YuQiuyu, he is indeed a too famous figure to be missed.

Before the meeting, a funny episode happened around me. When I arrived to the meeting place, I saw Miss Xie sitting another raw next to me. I waved to her in order to show her I coming. I thought she should be happy to see me but she made an expression seem as I was a strange rather than a guest she invited. I knew she was certainly not such a kind of person with bad manners, so I waved her again and told my friend, saying, “She is the librarian who called me coming.” Seeing Miss Xie didn’t give me a response, my friend too waved to her to gain her attention. Finally, Miss Xie provided a greeting back to us. When the meeting started, I saw Miss Xie was on the platform speaking to audiences, I was surprised to watch at the woman sitting here. Who was her? Several seconds later, I discovered the mystery why “Miss Xie” didn’t wave me back. In fact, the woman sitting next to was not Miss Xie but Miss Xie’s twin sister. They both have gray short hair, wearing same type of glasses and being same tall and body size. Especially, their faces are almost same. I was embarrassed by my silly action. Perhaps, Miss Xie’s sister knew I was one more person who mistakenly considered her to be her sister. Maybe such an awkward situation is not unusual for her since her sister is a public person in the community.

Let me return back to Yu’ speech. In fact, it was much better than I expected. The topic was about culture and Chinese culture. Instead of giving a random talking, the short speech, around forty minutes, was rather well organized. Yu adapted two words to create a simple definition of culture, ideological value and normal life style. He gave a brief description of Chinese history and culture. He mentioned prehistory time, Qin and Han empires, nomad invasions, Tang dynasty, the peak and golden era of China, and Song and Ming periods. He discussed the strength and weakness of Chinese culture respectively. He pointed out a specific point of Chinese culture that Chinese culture might not be the most achieved civilization among all ancient civilizations, but it is the only one that has not been broken within five thousand years. Declining and dying out of civilizations is nature; in contrast, it is quite strange that one civilization keeps alive thousands years. He said that was the outstanding success of Chinese civilization and we should pay a special attention to it.

Toady is the eighth of the December of the lunar year of the pig. It is a traditional holiday of Chinese. People usually eat a special rice soup which including mixed meat, beans, and vegetable. It is called “Labazhou”, which literal means the rice soup in the eighth day of the last month of a year. I remember when I was in my hometown, our neighbors, often some old ladies, always shared they Labazhou to my grandpa and me if my mother was not at home. I am always cheered up by the warm memories of my childhood and my kind neighbors in my hometown.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I finally find a job

In the beginning of this winter break, I have bought Chinese newspapers several times and tried to find some jobs from the advertisements on it. However, I saw no hope on it. I believe that I can work only around one month is the major restriction for me to seek job. I also called some of my ex-coworkers, but none of them provided me any useful information. I felt that I had to give up. Probably, staying at home and concentrating on English study is also a good option to spend this winter. However, change often occurs in some unexpected moment. Yesterday, when I met a classmate online, I said hello to her. In fact, I rarely chat with her; maybe I was bored at that moment so I started to talk with her. While she complained that she had to work during the winter, I showed my jealousy to her job opportunity. We both are Work Study in the college library, but my department doesn’t need people to work in the winter but hers, the department of stack, needs. She told me that I might work in her department because she felt that it needs employees. She suggested me coming to her department to inquire a supervisor. Since I had a book due back the day after tomorrow, I thought I could go to the library today to return the book and also to talk with the supervisor to try my luck.

In fact, I was luck today. When I was on the way walking to the stack office, I met the supervisor, Aldor. Since I have worked in the library more than two years, I knew a lot of people over here, including Aldor. In fact, before he became the supervisor of the stack department, he used to be my coworker in the Media center in a short time. I told him my situation and asked if he could allow me to work under his department. Aldor said that there were indeed many work in the department and they just needed worker. Nevertheless, he suggested e to go back my department to notify this issue to my present supervisor, moddel, and get a permit from him. Immediately, I went back to my department and my supervisor was just at his office. After I explained the situation to him, he allowed me working in Aldor’s department 35 hours. 35 hours is just fine because there are only a few week leaving before the new semester. Working two or three weeks is a rational and pleasurable plan. My supervisor said, “Please come back in the new semester.” I promised him that I would. I told him that it was not me who wouldn’t want to work here, but it was him who didn’t need me in the winder. Hearing that, he was laughing, said, “Here is not busy, you know.” Of cause I knew the situation. During the previous two winters while I was in this department, I applied the winter job twice but was rejected twice. I was kidding to him. Then, I went back to Aldor. He arranged me working this Thursday, Friday, and next Monday to Friday from 10 to 3, that is totally 35 hours. I like the arrangement. It is a perfect deal; it is happy not only one or two sides but three, me, Aldor, and Moddel. So, I will go to work tomorrow. I can totally earn 280 dollars. I am glad to have the income though it is a little.

Also, when I checked the email box the college assigned for me, I found the college bookstore is hiring people. The job is limited within a few weeks in the beginning of the new semester. The positions includes cashiers, sale assistants, and stack people. I think it is suitable thing for me because the classes should not too busy in the beginning period of a semester. I cannot work excessive hours in a whole semester but for a few weeks I think I may cope with it. The application of the jobs will start since next week. I will go to apply it.

After I left the college, I walked to the Flushing public library to return some books. Yes, I borrow books from both college library and the public library. I bought a cup of pudding pearl tea to myself for celebrating getting a job even though the day of the check coming is still far away. On the way to home, I found the weather was too nice to be missed, I called Jenny to have a walk in Kissena Park. The sky was extremely blue, deep, and clear. The temperature is around 60F. I wore a T-shire walking in January outside doors in New York that I felt it was really cool. We saw a lot ducks, two white swans, and some unknown birds in the lake in the park. I wonder we might find bird eggs among the reed land near the water. When somebody had dogs passing by us, Jenny said hello to those dogs instead of to people. I am not really like dog. I know I am not a kindness person. I have a lot of dark and dirty minds inside and have no willing to change at all.

When I went back home 4 o’clock in the afternoon, my aunt was cooking for her son and me. She cooked four large dishes for our two people. She can never fight out how much we will eat and dare not cook less even in a single day; thus she always makes more and more. Since I am aware that what the essential concern of my aunt is, I am touched by her love deeply. Sometimes I feel that I can never repay her whatever I do in my entire life. Although sometimes we are not perfectly understandable and very close, and she is not my mother after all, if I consider her as my half mother, I think she certainly could be.

My friend Antony got 67 on CPE. The full score is 72, the passing score is 34, and the average score is around 40. He also got three A+s and one A as his final grades last semester. I am so jealous of his achievement. The only thing that may cure my jealous is when I thinking of he will get huge pressure on his subsequent study because of his present perfection. Antony was arisen here. He has family, relatives, old classmates, and friends around him. He has an expensive car, his English is perfect, and he is young. He has a lot of wonderful things but he feels his life is just normal. I hate his attitude because it is a life I can never dream but that seem as it is just nothing for him.

I had a party in my friend Julia’s house. Around ten people came to the party and everybody bought a lot of foods. We couldn’t finish half of them. I know it is not my business but just worry how Julia deals with those foods after the guests leaving. Julia and a few people in the party were in the similar age with me. A woman among them persistently urged me to have bodies. I didn’t want to argue with her but I could never change my initial idea either. There were some young people who might around ten years younger than us. I admire Julia’s personality that she is always very nice and being friend with everybody. I have a different chracteristics from her that I can never treat everybody nice but only some of them. I think probably this is the reason that I have few friends.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


The thing I struggle the most during this winter is if I should go to work. I need money badly and I also need rest and some free time to do the things I like and have no time to fulfill during regular study terms. The two sides hold similar weight, which make me very difficult to make a decision. In order to make a final decision, I examine people who live around me to see how they lives are. They can be roughly divided into two categories. One insists in hard work, and another advocates an easy life.

My aunt can be a symbol of the first category. When I told her I would like to find a job in the first day of the winter holiday, she was cheered up by this idea. She quickly suggested, “They just need workers during this season.” The “they” she mentioned here is referring Chinese supermarkets where I used to work before I attained the college. Her suggestion is acceptable but certainly is not the best option. Even though one of my friends said, “You can easy to find a better job now since you have studied in the college several years.” However, my aunt never considers things in such a bright way. She always sees the darkest side in the first. Nevertheless, I understand her thoughts deeply. People as my aunt have experienced too much difficulty. They tolerate and accept many things, including something whenever you think about that you will feel chilly and trembly. Is it a noble spirit to tolerate and accept everything? I know I cannot make a judgment. For something and some situations, except to accept them, we have no other alterative at all. However, while the things are changing and the situations are improving, do we still need to proud of the sufferings? I need money but I also expect a better choice. The fate that I am hesitating about it implies that the situation of mine is still not absolutely terrible and I may have other alterative although that is really a little.

Some of my ex-coworkers belong to this category too. Whenever they meet me or talk with me on phone, they ask me what kind of job I am doing. When they find out I am free in the weekend, they are surprised, asking why I don’t go to find a part time job. I emphasize that I need to study during weekend, they respond me a smile and silence. It implies that my action is considered a kind of laziness from their eyes and they show an indirect criticism for it. They are really hard work creatures, using every minter to earn money. I believe many years later they will have big houses and expensive cars while I am still in a poor material standard. They may laugh at me, but I will think from another point of view, perhaps there is something that they lack for but I am rich about.

In contrast, my mother and my husband encourage me to take a rest during the winter. My mother is the person who always spoils me. I remember in my twenties, as long as I had a slightly uncomfortable feeling towards a job, my mother allowed me to quit it. Once, she even encouraged me stopping working in order to enjoy the winter and the Chinese New Year. While my grandfather was very unhappy about me for sleeping late in the morning, she never blames me about the bad habit. She explains it like this way, “The weather is too cold; why don’t you lie on the bed longer?” My mother has no strong desire of life. She believes that it is important to make life easy. I inherit this life style from her.

My husband doesn’t require me to go to work either. My husband definitely is not the best person in the world, but he absolutely is the best one for me in the world. He is not too smart but just smart enough. He is not too capable but works hard enough. He understands my dream and desires, as well as my sorrow. He always respects my opinions and decisions. Someone says good couples should first be good communicated friends. This statement is appropriate to us perfectly. Sometimes I feel I cannot be completely satisfied by him; however, when I make a rational thinking, I have to admit that he indeed is the best choice of my life. He may not provide me a rich material life or he may be a burden for me due to his language problem as a new immigrant, but I truly believe that he will give me his true heart and love. That is very important to make me feel safe and happy in my entire life. When I discussed whether I should work, he said he believed that it was not necessary, but the final decision should be up to me.

My classmates from Taiwan mostly don’t go to work during the winter. I think they lives are a kind of normal live although there is no way to say what an absolute definition of a normal live is. My friend Ting goes to Buddhist temple sometimes. She introduces the place to me because she guesses I may have an interest in Buddhism. Indeed, although I have no willing to involve into any certain religion, my interests towards Buddhism is increasing rapidly while I am taking Zen courses under Professor Sukhu.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Enjoy my winter break

Today is January 4th, a less half of the winter break is gone. I am checking my grades on line as often as I can. Until today, two grades are available. I got an A on Chinese history and an A+ on Chinese 360. I am so glad for the A+ because it is completely unexpected. Although in every previous semester I have had an A+, I didn’t think I could have one this semester too. The reason is in the class of Chinese 360, the grades of most of my homework were around A or A-; thus, I assumed an A was the best guess on that course. I wish the grades from the rest courses don’t disappoint me as well.

In the initial days of the winter break, I devoted all my time and energy on reading Chinese novels. I am indeed hungry on spiritual foods and long for satisfy myself desires on Chinese reading. I love novels so much and enjoy all types of them, such as romantic stories, political fiction, peasant and countryside lives, science fiction, children stories, and so on. I remember I have given myself a net name as “I love novels”. It is a funny, but shouldn’t a net name as funny and odd as it could be. In the net world, we are free from the normal sense in the real world. Do something beyond normal life!

When I find some excellent stories, I introduce them to my aunt. My aunt rarely goes to the library to borrow some books; however, when I present some books to her, I notice that she certainly has interest in them. We discuss those exciting stories. Although there is an age gap between my aunt and me, we share with the cultural background in common. Despite her senior, because I am in history major, sometimes I explain her some historical events that took place in her period. For example, some details or figures in the Cultural Revolution. I always proud about my history and Chinese classic literature knowledge though I know I should not behave like that.

I make many plans in the winter. First, I will study grammar; it is a basic job for me in every holidays. I constantly concert about my English writing and the grammar problems. Because I am always too busy to study it during formal study terms, I wish I can self-study about it in holidays. Second, I will study the English pronunciation. I feel my writing, reading, and listening skills in English are improving faster than my speaking skill. There must be some presentations and oral exams in my future academic study. I will try my best to catch up on this field. Third, I will read a few English books in order to practice reading. I am reading 1587, A Year of No Significance by Ray Huang lately. I have read the Chinese version of this book many years ago; actually, I have kept a cope of it in my home in China. It is a very famous and outstanding book. I am glad there is an English version in my college library. I have already finished half of it. After completely read it, I will choose other one or two books to read during this winter. I don’t want to make a long reading list, but rather carefully read and understand a few. Forth, I will randomly read some new Chinese book, especial Buddhist or Zen books. That should not take much time. Fifth, I will practice calligraphy as often as I can during the winter break. Last, I will write journals both in Chinese and English. I plan to write a 30 page long English journal, which should not be an excessive requirement if I just do the free writing. In contrast, for the Chinese writing, I demand quality rather than quantity although I know quality is based on quantity.

My tutor Barry is very very nice so he is very popular in the ESL learning centre in the public library. Every time I come here, he can only take a few seconds to say hello to me. I wish we can have a chance to have tea together during this winter. Barry is nice in many ways but I particularly admire him for him helping old people as well as young people. One of my friends, in fact, he is an excellent student and a sincere friend, said he liked young people. When I heard that I felt painful because in comparison with him, I was indeed old. Because of his words I felt sorry about my age and really upset. However, when I see Barry patiently helps some old ladies to study those Basic English words such as bus, street, sky, I am deeply touched by his deeds.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The first day of 2008

Today is the new year day of 2008. Because I cannot access the Internet in my room, I do not write my blog often. Sorry about that. Talk to you later, Pink tear.