Sunday, 4 March 2012

International Women's Day

What I big day I had - I shared with fellow member of 5W the story of  Qiu Jin who is described as the "Chinese Joan of Arc" (1875 - 1907), a radical women's rights activist who defied tradition to become the leader of a revolutionary army in China.

She was a prolific writer and also wrote

"With all my heart I beseech and beg
my two hundred million female compatriots
to assume their responsibility as citizens.
Arise! Arise! Chinese women, arise!

This is from the website - and I recommend that readers purchase the DVD of the documentary.  It is fascinating.

I have a special connection with Qui Jin, but I regret I did not know the story until I had left China.  In Jie Fang Lu, Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province China, is a statue, that says something like Qui Jin, Martyr in English and other words in Chinese.

I did know that there was a museum to honour her, but I didn't get there.  It is not far from the statue, but I was not taken there, nor did I hear anything about her.

It is on my bucket list.  I must go and see the museum.

However, I was able to share the story with my friends from 5W yesterday, and afterwards we went to the China City Seafood Restaurant, on the ground floor of the Chifley Hotel, in the Mall, for Yum Cha.

I had another function in the city in the afternoon - a Writing Workshop with Thea Biesheuvel for the Society of Women Writers, Queensland.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Keeping in Touch

Isn't the Internet wonderful?   It enables me to keep in touch with students from Yuexiu University in Shaoxing.  Mostly the students contact me via email, but there are several with access to Skype so I can speak with them or 'converse' via text messages.

A couple are hoping to come to Australia later this year - so it will be good to catch up with them.  In 2010 there were two students that I spent a lot of time with - they were very good friends, and between them had decided to spend a lot of time with 'foreign teachers' to benefit their English skills.

They were lovely girls - though sometimes you would find them a bit 'in your face' - they'd be lurking somewhere to find a foreign teacher, and not always did you want to include them in your activities, but mostly we did without complaint.

Last year I heard from one of them that their friendship had fractured.  In part it may have been that they came from different worlds - one came from a family with money, and the other from a very poor family.  As is usual in China, the more wealthy girl and her family would have been generous to the other, and I really have no idea what caused 'the split'.  Part of it may have been that the less affluent parents chose to put their daughter in a school that was not so expensive.

Still, both girls correspond with me.  That I am pleased about, and I don't mention the other.  Maybe one day they will get together again.  Who knows.

Friendships in China with students - male or female are very close.  If they are at school/college together, they will probably board in the same room - 8 or 9 students crammed into a tiny space with limited cupboard space, one table, a couple of chairs, and of course mostly bunk beds.

Another student was accepted into the Communist Party (it is not easy to get into the party), and as a result he was given his own apartment.  As a result, his dorm mates were no longer his constant companions, and indeed he rued the day he went t live alone, without friends.

He still communicates with me.  His parents (who are not wealthy) are very proud of his achievements and not only the joining of the party, but he has been very successful in study and part time employment. Some days he is not all that sure he has made wise decisions, but to change direction now would upset his family.

As I said, it is good to keep in touch with them.