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EAST Winter 2015

SPECIAL REPORT

JUNG CHANG COMES TO LEEDS

THAILAND DEFYING THE STEREOTYPES

THE LATEST FROM THE CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE

China’s Ivory Trade THE SHOCKING TRUTH

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Dear readers, Thank you for picking up a copy of EAST Magazine, the University of Leeds’ East Asian Studies Department’s very own magazine. In this issue, we consider the importance of cross-cultural awareness as we tread across the globe, offering insight into the whys and wherefores of the continuing ivory trade in China; reflections from Thailand on the detriments of stereotyping; marriages of Japanese and British poetic traditions; and experiences of Leeds’ students living in Asia, to mention a few. Furthermore, we are extremely proud to extend our commitment to not only promoting international awareness but also to supporting Leeds Students by first of all producing the first EAST Magazine issue to include articles in Mandarin, Thai and Japanese for the benefit of those studying these languages, and by secondly promoting the launch of The Chairman’s Bao – a website, co-founded by Leeds student Sean McGibney, that makes Chinese news articles accessible as a learning resource for those studying Chinese. Lastly, we are eternally grateful to all the contributors and the Leeds Business Confucius Institute who have made the publication of this issue possible. We hope we’ve done everyone involved a service and that you, the reader, take pleasure in reading this issue as much as we’ve taken pleasure in making it. If you’d like to be involved in any of our upcoming issues, or would like to show your support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. See you all again for our summer edition! The EAST Magazine team lueastmagazine

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@EastMagazine


CONTENTS

Winter 2015

13 GOING GLOBAL 日本のマクドナルド事情

ON THE COVER

Exploring ‘Americanisation’ and ‘McDonalisation’ in Japanese

RICE FIELDS IN VIETNAM

16 INTERVIEW

B Y PA I G E G O U L D

Brand new Chinese language-learning website, The Chairman’s Bao

18 DISCUSSION How personas are reconstructed through different languages

7 LEEDS

A special visit from Jung Chang

8 BCIUL

10 CHINA

The illegal ivory trade

The Leeds Business Confucius Institute

20 SHANGHAI

The Long Tang games

17 台北

Taipei, past and present

8 CUMBRIA

Meeting Matsuo Bashō in Wordsworth’s Home

4 THAILAND

Defying the stereotypes

6 การท่องเที่ยวในประเทศไทย Reducing crime in Thailand

20 CAMBODIA

Volunteering in Tonle Pati

14 KAIMON-DAKE Hiking adventure

PHOTO NITIN RISHI

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Defying the stereotypes

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WORDS CATHERINE FAULDER PHOTO TAKEAWAY

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he stereotyping of women and their natural roles as ‘carers of children’ and ‘the ones in the kitchen’ is something that society is familiar with. The stereotype of men as being breadwinners or averse to feeling emotions is another one we have grown accustomed to. From the less harmful ones, such as ‘all Asians know Kung Fu’, to the overly negative ones, such as ‘all Muslims are terrorists’, one can begin to appreciate why stereotyping can be misleading, and even dangerous. Let’s look at some of the common stereotypes held on Thailand, and through implication Thai women, by the international community at large. The stereotype of the Thai woman as the prostitute, the lady-boy or the Thai bride is something that a lot of us may be even more familiar with, alongside the stereotype that Thailand is the prime destination for sex tourists. The first sixteen years of my life I spent growing up in Bangkok, and of course I noticed the late night bars brimming with naked women who were grinding up against men red in the face, some obviously drunk to within an inch of their lives, or wait… am I stereotyping? Regardless of whether I am or not, I only ever considered this to be one aspect of life in Thailand. I also noticed the school-uniformed kids who studied hard every day, the street vendors who are still by far the best chefs I have ever come across, and the sales assistants in the shopping malls that would put Jordan Belfort, the famous ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, to shame when it came to selling. It was when I went to school in England that I came into contact with how overblown the stereotypes of Thailand and Thai women are. Common questions asked at social gatherings would be, “Oh, you’re part Thai, is your mum a prostitute?” or, “Do you know any lady-boys?” or even, “Thailand… isn’t that where you go to get AIDS?” Okay, so I am not completely obtuse: I know this was not said in absolute seriousness and I did manage to pick up a thing or two on British humour. Nonetheless, it does draw our attention to what springs to a

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lot of people’s minds when they think of Thailand. By the way, this is not to say that I think prostitutes, lady-boys or Thai brides are bad people or have made bad decisions, as that would be another stereotype in itself. And also, I do not know them well enough to make such accusations. Having recently returned home after working in London, I had the opportunity to attend a networking event held exclusively for female professionals and entrepreneurs in Thailand. As a women-only event, it was a spectacular occasion to showcase all the many talents that some of the key women of Thailand possess. It was a celebration of all the Thai and international women living in one of the most interesting and vibrant cities of the world. The night was adorned with eclectic food, good wine, a free-flow of different ideas, opinions and a chance for the women of Bangkok to realise their shared greatness. Amongst the crowd were multi-skilled business women, technology startup entrepreneurs, TV presenters, artists, actresses, public affairs specialists, jewelry designers, theatre agents, producers, DJs, photographers, bankers, lawyers, doctors, fashion designers, poets, models, beauticians, hair and make-up professionals; all female, all intelligent, all hard-working, and all fabulous! In fact, Thai women have always been the backbone of Thailand’s success, and are becoming increasingly more so, with the number of female workers increasing greatly in recent years. In 2009, women accounted for over half of the Thai workforce, not just in low ranking positions but in some of the most senior positions you can find. In 2012, Thailand had the third highest number of women in management positions, at 39%, compared with 20% in the UK and 17% in the US. More and more females are being appointed to boards of directors, CEOs (38 per cent of CEOs and board members are female) and CFOs. In politics, although there is still a lag in female representation, Thailand did elect its first female Prime Minister – the fact that she was dismissed by the courts after political turmoil is beside the point as she was in office


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for three years, empowering many men and women alike with her charisma and ability to execute change despite great resistance. Thai women are seen in all roles, as CEOs, CFOs, lawyers, doctors, dentists, legislators, senior officials, managers, professionals, technicians, service workers, skilled agricultural and fishery workers, you name it! So, why the stereotype? A stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. It is a natural human reaction to the sheer complexity of the world – because we cannot comprehend, we seek to simplify this person or thing and put them under a broad label that makes sense to us. The beauty of the world, however, is in its complexities and intricacies, and within the things we do not understand. By focusing on one aspect of a person or thing, we miss out on the bigger picture and, actually, we miss out on the truth. Let’s look at how Thais stereotype tourists. There is a widely accepted stereotype that tourists who come to Thailand just party hard and go to ping pong shows. Is this fair? No. Is this true? No. There are many types of tourists other than sex tourists. Travellers come to see the beauty of the country and its people, like they would do anywhere else. They come to work, or make friends, or start a new life. Also, the fact that men are often ridiculed by their families, wives and girlfriends for coming to Thailand is unfair, as not every man comes here for one thing! This stereotyping from all sides leads to a widened gap in the understanding between different cultures and different ways of life. It causes cultural miscommunication and it also causes everyone to disconnect. There’s definitely more to Thai women and Thailand than meets the eye, just like there is more to everything and everyone. The next time you hear this stereotype, or any, or even the next time you catch yourself engaging in a bit of stereotyping, question that person or yourself, and dig a little deeper for the truth. Catherine is currently based in Bangkok working for a tech start-up.

การท่องเที่ยวใน ประเทศไทย WORDS NAUNGHATHAI INTAKHANTEE

With an undeniable relevance to the tragic killings that happened last year in Thailand, Naung argues that the Thai government should be working towards decreasing crime rates and improving the safety of tourists and Thai people, rather than simply glorifying tourism.

วามมี น้ำ � ใจและจิ ต ใจดี ข องคนไทยเป็ น หนึ่ ง ในจุ ด ขายด้ า นการท่ อ งเที่ ย วของ ประเทศไทยมาเป็นเวลานาน แต่เหตุการณ์ ฆาตกรรมนักท่องเที่ยวที่เป็นข่าวโด่งดัง ในช่วงปีที่ผ่านมาสะท้อนให้เห็นความจริงอีกด้านของ สังคมไทยและนำ�ไปสู่คำ�ถามสำ�คัญ หมดเวลาสำ�หรับ ประเทศไทยที่ จ ะยื น ยั น ตอกย้ำ� ภาพลั ก ษณ์ ค วามเป็ น สยามเมืองยิ้มแล้วหรือยัง? ความเชื่อมั่นของนักท่อง เที่ยวต่อภาพลักษณ์ของประเทศไทยไม่สามารถเรียก คืนกลับมาด้วยการโหมโฆษณาแต่เพียงด้านดีและหมก ปัญหาไว้ใต้พรม การแก้ไขปัญหาของไทยต้องเริ่ม ต้ น จากการยอมรั บ ความจริ ง ว่ า ประเทศไทยมี ร ะดั บ อาชญากรรมสูงแต่ความเข้มงวดในการรักษากฎหมาย อยู่ในระดับต่ำ� เจ้าหน้าที่รัฐต้องจริงจังกับการรักษา ความปลอดภัยให้มากขึ้น ขณะที่ภาคพลเมืองต้องเข้ม แข็งมากขึ้นเพื่อตรวจสอบการทำ�งานของหน่วยงานรัฐ แทนที่จะมุ่งเน้นการโฆษณาเชิดชูจิตใจที่ดีงามของคน ไทยเช่นในอดีต ประเทศไทยต้องทำ�ให้คนทั่วโลกเชื่อมั่นในคุณภาพของ คนไทยทั้งในฐานะพลเมืองและเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐที่สามารถ ทำ�หน้าที่เจ้าของบ้านได้อย่างมีประสิทธิภาพ Naung is studying for a PhD in Business & Economic Studies.

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Best-selling author Jung Chang comes to Leeds WORDS SUSANNAH DERRETT PHOTOS THE CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE

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think I speak for my fellow audience members in saying that Jung Chang’s ‘Meet The Authors’ talk, organised by the Leeds Business Confucius Institute on Thursday 13th November, was truly awe-inspiring. Renowned author of the best-selling books Mao: The Unknown Story (with Jon Halliday), Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, the most read book about China (according to the Asian Wall Street Journal), and most recently Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, Jung Chang strode with grace into the Conference Auditorium to recount some of her incredible experiences. Anyone who has read Jung’s books will agree that the sheer depth of detail there is astonishing, yet what struck me most was that Jung maintained absolutely that everything in her books is based on evidence collected by herself, “from the clothes people were wearing to the weather that day”. This non-fictional aspect to her work is extraordinary considering the vivid narrative style in which the books are written. The combination of a gripping story and the truth behind it makes for a really riveting read; it is little wonder that Jung’s books have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. We were fascinated to hear Jung’s remarkable life story, from her experiences of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, to being one of the first Chinese students sent to study abroad in 1978, and five years later the first person from the People’s Republic of China to be awarded a PhD from a British university. The tales of her writing career were also inspirational – the amount of time put into researching archives, reading historical texts and official documents, and listening to interviews as well as tape recordings of her mother’s own personal accounts, shows an undeniable dedication to what she does. A staggering 10 years of research went into the biography Mao: The Untold Story; it is this determination, driven by curiosity, which has

made her works possible. As she said herself, “I love being a historical detective!”. After her presentation, members of the audience put forward some pertinent questions, such as whether Jung encountered any difficulties with the Chinese government when collating evidence from the national archives; her first two books are banned on the mainland, and she is still waiting to hear whether Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China will also be banned for being too controversial. We were interested to learn that, in fact, the Chinese authorities are keen to promote research into historical figures, “They were just glad I was looking back to the past, and not towards the future!”. Jung answered our questions keenly and insightfully, and I will conclude with the answer to a question you have all been dying to know: when is her next book out? To this the answer may be summarised as: patience is a virtue; the last one was only published last year! Susannah is a finalist student of Chinese & Linguistics. She is also EAST’s Designer and Marketing Coordinator.

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The Leeds Business

CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE WORDS AND PHOTOS THE LEEDS BUSINESS CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE

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hinese New Year is a busy time for the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds. The festival is the equivalent of Christmas for anyone in China - the time of year when families gather together and eat delicious food. It is also a chance to pause and reflect on the year gone by, and the year still to come. So with respect to that, the Business Confucius Institute tells EAST Magazine what they’ve been up to this last year, and what still lies ahead…

2014 was as busy as ever here at the Confucius Institute

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Our joint focus on business and culture (there aren’t many Confucius Institutes like us you know!) means there is no shortage of partners to work with and events to organise. Last year saw the launch of the China Business Club, which provides local businesses with a great way to share knowledge and expertise about doing business with China. All Leeds University students and alumni will know that we have a lot to offer here in Yorkshire, and the China Business Club helps that talent reach even further afield. Our largest ever cultural event was also hosted last year - a Chinese Festival to mark the tenth anniversa-


ry of the founding of Confucius Institutes. The university campus came alive, with children and adults enjoying a wide range of workshops and performances. We are also very proud of the success our students have achieved this year. Our Chinese teachers have worked with schools, university students, local residents and businesses to help students achieve their language-learning goals. Students who went on our annual Summer Camp had a great time experiencing China first-hand and testing out their Chinese. Furthermore, as a test centre for standard Chinese proficiency tests (HSK exams) we welcomed students from the whole region who wished to gain a formal qualification as recognition of all their hard work.

An exciting year ahead Some readers may be aware of our brand new series of cultural workshops, which launched on 4th February 2015 with a hugely popular dumpling-making session. We will be introducing you to a new aspect of Chinese culture every month, so don’t miss out on the chance to eat, drink, dance, create, and learn with us this year.

As always we have a full programme of lectures and seminars coming up. Our Meet the Authors events bring local booklovers and China enthusiasts together to hear our invited authors introduce their books, and give attendees the chance to meet them and get their books signed. Check our website to find out who will be speaking next. China will come to Leeds again in September, when our Chinese Festival returns to campus. We hope you will all help us to make this year’s event bigger and better than ever!

Get involved! You don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to experience some of the wonders of far-flung places. Details of all programmes and events, past and future, can be found on our website at lubswww.leeds. ac.uk/confucius/home/ or simply scan the QR code below. We hope to see you at one of our workshops, events, or courses soon.

We are also delighted to be working on a new collaboration with Leeds College of Art, which will see fashion students designing China-inspired clothing and competing to win a trip to China on our summer school programme. We can’t wait to see their creations.

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WORDS AND PHOTOS JAYEETA GHORAI

Haibun of a Lonely Traveller Meeting Matsuo Bashō in Wordsworth’s Home

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xams are boring – Maths is stupidly crazy, English is bad too.

This intrepid confession from my nine year old, carefully syllable-counted on the notches of his finger, followed the announcement, “Guess what, I made a haiku poem in class.” Was it coincidence or Zen that within a week of listening to this profound manifest, we were to meet Matsuo Bashō, acknowledged ‘father’ of haiku? No, we didn’t travel all the way to Japan. He came across the border, to Cumbria. Let me explain how this began. The agenda was simple - my husband’s that is: to take on the steepest of passes through the Lake District. “You are advised to not drive over Hardknott Pass”, instructed the e-mail from Paddington, the owner of our B&B. Reading it, my husband burst out laughing. “Why don’t you tell her that we’ve chosen to stay with them specifically because of that Pass?” he asked. Indeed, I had spent hours poring over Google Maps to locate that one remote village at the deep end of what is commonly dubbed ‘the steepest road in England’ so that my driving-enthusiast husband could have his thrills…while I had mine, for my agenda, geeky and common place by comparison, was to follow Wordsworth’s footsteps through the Lake District. Eskdale served us well, being centrally located from

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all the famed villages associated with Wordsworth’s life and creativity. Not to mention, it was at the end of that pass. The signs announcing 33% gradient began as soon as we crossed the cattle grid where Wrynose Pass (25% gradient) ended. resting higher than a lark in the sky a mountain pass, It isn’t for those easily scared. Unwise to hurry, staying calm and in first gear helps avoid misfortunes. A couple with a shaggy dog had punctured their chariot wheel just beyond the pass, we stopped to offer help. It is then that we turned back to observe what it was we had come through, and how. Cars with miles between them, headlights switched on to be clearly visible to those approaching from the opposite way, were nose diving at an agonisingly slow pace, getting lost from sight behind craggy fells, and moments later emerging, swaying from side to side, at the head of another slope. The closest I had come to witnessing similar feats was on television advertisements of 4x4s. The ‘road’, a generous epithet for a barely one-vehicle width of smoothened tar, threw up its worst challenge when two vehicles came face to face. The roads zigzagged to an extent that you could see whoever was coming from far off but lost sight of them as they neared, so one minute you were at a distance and safe, the next minute you skidded into a bumper-to-bumper impasse. Wordsworth couldn’t have appreciated good old humanity moreso anywhere


else: here courtesy to your fellow journeymen actually saved lives. Your own. Bashō could just as well have travelled these ribbons, cleared off rocky grass, and called it his Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to a Far Province). For someone who grew up near the Himalayas and watched Nepali cab drivers in action on casual transit from the railhead, being on that drive wasn’t unusual. The Eskdale valley shimmered green from viewpoints on the fell; lush and silent, it felt untouched by Time. One could stand on the ruined ramparts of the roman fort, and muse: summer grasses where stalwart soldiers once dreamed a dream Wordsworth had viewed daffodils at Ulswater, somewhere close by – not technically, but what does it matter, the accuracy of distinguishing one mound or puddle from another? – and set countless others like me on lifelong affairs with English poetry. He fuelled my fūkyō. Who else but a dolt would go chasing a dead poet, dragging her machismo-oozing husband along! “I was,” answered Mike, the guide at Dove Cottage, volunteering and freshly graduated, to my curiosity if he was a Literature student. “I studied English Literature twenty years ago,” I couldn’t help reply, “And I haven’t stopped being a student.” The truth is, you never stop being one. In my kitschlaced pilgrimage from the rainy main street of Cockermouth to the cobbled back alleys in Hawkshead (one would think a place named ‘Wordsworth Street’ would be a tad more self-important) to the commercially buzzing Grasmere, it was Bashō gently guiding my way.

I was not to feel Bashō’s gentle ghostly touch till I came upon the exhibition, ‘Wordsworth and Bashō: Walking Poets’, in The Jerwood Centre, adjacent to The Wordsworth Museum and Dove Cottage. Original manuscripts and letters of both were placed among more recent artistic and literary interpretation by a symposium of contemporary creative minds. Wordsworth’s swooning pantheism mirrored Bashō’s Zen, born a century before and in a different land: all the more I wish to see in those blossoms at dawn the face of the god, I had just been in from the adjacent garden – that love for recreating nature which began in their childhood home at Cockermouth, had followed William and sister Dorothy lifelong, to Dove Cottage and onto the fell walks which they made the Lakes famous for. Rabindranath Tagore, India’s first Nobel Laureate and sage poet, was inspired by haiku to create his bi-lingual “Sphulingo (Sparks)”, a collection of haiku in Bengali, with self-translations in English. Bengali sensibilities expressed in Japanese form - that was my childhood introduction to Bashō’s legacy. Does not a school boy’s disdain over exams, in some way, connect with the Romantic Movement’s rebellious breaking away and with Bashō’s charting a new definition of fūryū? Does all our love for nature and pastoral scenes not connect by gossamer threads, across centuries and geographical miles? Sitting on a picnic table by a stream on the season’s one last bright summer day, I mulled… never think of yourself as someone who did not count – festival of the souls

try to emulate a traveler’s heart, passania blossoms!

(All quotations of Bashō are taken from “Bashō and his Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary”, Compiled, Translated with an Introduction by Makoto Ueda.)

(Or “Yew-Trees”, as I’m sure Wordsworth would insist, but what was the difference?)

Jayeeta is currently studying Chinese and Italian. She also has an MA in English.

“traveller” shall be my name – first winter shower (Or summer rain, as on this weekend.)

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What is China doing to stop the

ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE? WORDS JESSICA TERRY (田丽) PHOTOS THE DAVID SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST

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hina has long regarded Pandas as their national treasure, a rare animal fiercely protected by the government and treated as king of the zoo, housed in the biggest enclosures and receiving the most visitors. The government has passed several laws prohibiting the poaching of pandas and invested millions into special breeding programmes to encourage reproduction rates. In 1996 two men caught smuggling panda pelts were sentenced to death, serving both as a warning to others and a clear message that the government was taking a tougher stance on poachers. Having battled tirelessly to save the panda from extinction, why is it that the Chinese elite are now so determined to wipe out Africa’s national treasure, the elephant? The answer is ivory. The main use of ivory in China is to produce ornaments to sit on the mantelpieces of the wealthy, a status symbol to show the world the size of your wallet. With the elephant population in drastic decline, and an ever desperate need to get the Chinese government on board in attempts to quell poaching for ivory, it is evident there is still a long way to go. A recent study has shown that ivory poachers have killed 100,000 African elephants in the last three years and elephant populations have declined by 64% in the last decade. So what is the world’s largest ivory consumer doing to stamp out the illegal ivory trade? A 2007 survey carried out by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) showed that a shocking 70% of Chinese people asked did not know where ivory came from. This revelation signals one of the main problems facing the plight of the elephant - that the Chinese aren’t aware of where ivory comes from, nor of the danger poaching elephants and supporting the ivory trade has for the dwindling population. Following the study, the IFAW launched a campaign to both educate and raise public awareness about the origins of ivory by placing information about the dangers of this, currently legal, trade on bill boards in prominent places. The campaign was hugely successful and was seen by 75% of the urban population. Furthermore, almost half of the number of people considered most likely to buy ivory said they would no longer do so after seeing the advertisement: a promising sign. However, ignorance is not the only reason for the high demand for ivory in China. There is a common misconception about the word ivory in Mandarin. Ivory or ‘elephants tooth’ as it is literally translated in Chinese gives the misleading impression that elephants are not killed for their tusks, but that the tusks are merely removed with no actual threat to the ele-

phant’s life. This common misinterpretation is one of the reasons that most Chinese may seem indifferent to ivory poaching - after all, surely there must be a second set of ‘teeth’? The IFAW is once again directly addressing the problem by leading an advertisement campaign in China’s undergrounds, depicting an elephant calf with his first tooth, to highlight the death of elephants after their tusks have been removed.: ‘Mum, I got teeth’. The mother does not respond. The calf repeats: ‘Mum, I got my first tooth.’ ‘Aren’t you happy I’ve got teeth?’ The message further explains: Babies having teeth should bring joy to a mother. But what does it mean for elephant families? Because of people’s unnecessary want of ivory, hundreds and thousands of elephants are killed for the ivory trade. If we don’t buy, they don’t die. Say “No” to elephant ivory. China should be highly commended for its recent attempts to curb the ivory trade. In September 2013 it enforced a new initiative and sent a text message to every single Chinese mobile phone when it was switched on in Kenya warning people ‘not to carry illegal ivory, rhino horns or any other wildlife.’ However, despite recent efforts to educate and warn people of the long term effects of supporting the ivory trade, why does the problem continue to be rife within China? There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the government is sending mixed messages to its citizens, as the selling of ivory is not actually illegal. In an attempt to control and monitor the amount of ivory being sold, the government has issued 150 shops with licenses to sell ivory: a controversial and misguided decision. The decision was defended by the government claiming that carved ivory is an important part of Chinese culture which they didn’t want to die out. In 2008 China even took the decision to purchase 62 tons of ivory in an ill-judged attempt to keep track of and control the amount of ivory entering the country. The hope was that by allowing a monitored stockpile of ivory to be sold in the country, the demand on the black market would be curbed. The move caused great confusion amongst the public

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who took this to mean that the ivory trade no longer posed a threat to elephants. Consequently the trade boomed, giving poachers and illegal traders the perfect cover to peddle ivory on the black market. The decision to allow the ivory onto the market practically rendered all of the campaigning China had done to prevent the trading of ivory useless. However, in 2013 a licensed trader was sentenced to 15 years in prison for illegally smuggling ivory into the country, serving as a stark warning to others. If the government thought heavily regulated trade would limit illegal smuggling, it is sadly mistaken. If anything it has allowed illegal traders to slip under the radar and has increased supplier demand. So what is the solution? China needs to show the world it is getting tough on this despicable trade which is sadly still legal in China. Only by making examples out of traders and buyers and enforcing stricter punishments will people sit up and listen. Unfortunately, money speaks many languages and with elephants disappearing at a rate of one every fifteen minutes we will soon be saying zai jian to these beautiful animals forever. Jess graduated in 2012 from Leeds Univeristy with a degree in Mandarin and French, and is currently studying for an MA in Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies.

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日本のマクドナルド事情 WORDS MIDORI OSAWA

Midori takes a look at the idea of globalisation being ‘Americanisation’ or ‘McDonaldisation’.

界のどこへ行ってもマクド ナルドが同じだと思っては いけない。メニューや味に 共通点はあるものの、国や 地域によって特徴は様々だ。そこで今回 は日本のマクドナルドを紹介する。

を封印し、茶色を基調とした店舗デザイ ンになっている。

 メニューの一部は日本人の味覚や季節 の行事に合わせてつくられている。最 近登場したとんかつマック バーガーは、日本人のおな じみの味とんかつを挟んだ バーガーである。秋にはお 月見に合わせて、目玉焼き を挟んだ月見バーガーが季 節限定販売される。寒い冬 にはグラタンをコロッケに したグラコロバーガーが登 場し、人々の体と心を温め る。

Midori is a first year student of Development at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

 以上日本のマクドナルド事情をお伝え した。日本を訪れる際にはマクドナルド も一度試してみるのもありかもしれな い。

 次に飲み物。最大の特徴 はサイズがとても小さいこ と。イギリスのSは日本の Lサイズだ。種類も日本人 の好みに対応しており、コ ーラやオレンジジュースな どの世界共通メニューに加 え、ウーロン茶がある。野 菜ジュースだって買うこと ができる。  さらに、地域によっては 店舗デザインも特徴的であ る。伝統的な建造物が多い 京都では、歴史的な外観を 守るため、赤と黄色のロゴ

lueastmagazine.com | EAST 15


THE PEAK OF

KAIMON-DAKE WORDS AND PHOTOS JASON THORN

T

he volcano scraped the distant sky, darting around the large window frame as the train twisted and turned through grassy valleys and hills. The train roared beneath my feet, with every squeal and jump echoing through the carriage. I was not entirely sure the locomotive would complete the journey in one piece; were it to run these tracks more than the arranged two times a day, surely it would fall apart entirely. Only one other soul shared the pendulous carriage: a tall native in walking boots and thermals whose gaze, despite my own persistent fascination and studying of him, never once met mine. It’s an established norm in Japan for the locals to treat a foreigner such as myself either one of two ways: with curious fascination, joyfully accepting your presence and praising even your most basic knowledge of the Japanese language; or with apprehension, actively avoiding contact and keeping to themself. Young children stare at you curiously and teenagers flutter their eyelids and beg for you to pose in their photos, while elders avoid your gaze and continue as if you were not there. You are the oddity, subjected to curiosity and ignorance. Whilst so far out in this unpopulated countryside, I was unsure of which edge of the Katana I would be receiving. Would the locals

16 EAST | Winter 2015

blush and bow at my feet, or pay no attention to just another tourist seeking the summit of Kaimon-Dake? My gaze returned to the window, as the volcano appeared to grow, tall and dark, ominously hanging over the small village of Kaimon and its estimated population of 7,000. The suspense was familiar, as this was not my first time taking the journey. “Something to conquer”, the Australian expat had said two days previously, in the bar that sheltered us from the rain. The conversation had turned to suggestions of where my 6 week tour of Japan would take me next. “Definitely worth the journey; my friend wasn’t too badly hurt”. He continued to sell the excursion to me, but I was already sold, fascinated by the element of danger and adventure. It was the very next day that I was taking the slow train south from Kagoshima in search of Kaimon-Dake, a dormant volcano that looms over Kaimon, Japan’s southernmost point, and has remained inactive since its last eruption in the year 885. I found myself at the foot of the ominous volcano with the afternoon sun burning the back of my neck as it began to set behind me. A lie-in after a heavy night, a casually late brunch: my lethargy had been my downfall. “Two hours up, two hours down”, the Australian had


added. At this rate it would be dark before I reached the top, and I didn’t believe a pitch black descent would be ideal. Besides, what good is climbing that high when you can’t enjoy the view? I admitted defeat and resigned myself to taking the slow train home followed by an early night - something I had not yet achieved while left to my own devices in the neon-soaked streets of Tokyo and Osaka - and an attempt at an earlier ascent the next day. And behold, I found myself once again at the foot of the volcano: a tower of unkempt rock and fauna that loomed over me. In reality the volcano was only a little over 900 metres tall, a mere fraction of the infamous Mount Fuji, but this was a first for me: a vertical challenge to test my dedication and spirit for adventure. The lone passenger that had shared my rickety journey had put his best foot forward since leaving the train and had already disappeared into the woods that shelter much of the climb, leaving me to take stock of the scene around me in silence. The volcano had no official entrance or ticket booth and no security or entry fee: elements associated with any Western attraction that jumped at the opportunity to make a quick buck. You were left to your own devices, accompanied only by a sign that bore a simple drawing of the volcano adorned with a single line, which circled it, depicting the route up. A single revolution to the top. It wasn’t long before the incline began to take my breath from me, as grass and pebbles gave way to steep falls and treacherous boulders that required the use of all my limbs to navigate over. The earliest of the early risers were now making their descent and passing me as they returned back down, filling me with nervousness due to the equipment that accompanied them: walking poles, heavy boots, winter jackets and backpacks. I looked down to my own armour of jeans and Converse trainers, and a backpack which carried only a jumper, a sandwich and my video camera. Had I terribly underestimated the endeavour? Had the Australian’s friend suffered injury due to the same lack of preparation? I continued on with determination, if only for a story to tell or at least a thrilling obituary. It was only when I began contemplating my inevitable doom on the volcano side that I realised I hadn’t informed a soul of my whereabouts: not a note left with my hotel in case I was not to return that evening, or a casual email to inform my family of where my body could be found. I was suddenly alone on this rock, but the independence was liberating, and with a cocktail of adrenaline

and fear pulsing through me, the peak eventually revealed itself. I lay my back against a rock and breathed in blissful lung-fulls of the empyreal horizons; a heavenly view of the clear blue seas and sandy beaches that had eluded me on my travels thus far now opened up beneath me. A Japanese man reached the top shortly after me, similarly decked out in extreme hiking gear. Through a mess of broken Japanese and English we greeted each other, nodded, bowed, and posed for photos between deep breaths of sea air. The sun would eventually set, suggesting a prompt decent, though I savoured the harmonious views and soothing breezes for as long as possible. I was almost melancholy. Though I rested after the exhausting climb, I ached to relive the adventure and perilous journey that had appeared out of nowhere from a conversation in a bar two days before. Never before had the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson felt so apt, “Life is a journey, not a destination”. I paused and took my last few breaths of the summit. Losing myself in this beautiful country was not my destination, but a journey that was only just beginning. Jason is a first year student of Japanese at Leeds University.

lueastmagazine.com | EAST 17


EAST Exclusive Interview

The Chairman’s Bao WORDS SUSANNAH DERRETT LOGO THE CHAIRMAN’S BAO

E

AST Magazine interviews finalist student of Chinese and Spanish, Sean McGibney, to find out about his exciting new language-learning website. The Chairman’s Bao, recently launched this year, is an online newspaper simplified for learners of Mandarin. All articles are written by native Chinese speakers with experience in teaching HSK (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì - the standard Chinese proficiency exam) and target specific HSK levels.

18 EAST | Winter 2015

So, Sean, how does The Chairman’s Bao work? Everything’s done through our website: www. thechairmansbao.com. Users can sign up to read the latest news stories and use our interactive interface, which has loads of cool features such as a live integrated dictionary and flashcard system. What inspired you to start working on this project? The site is the brainchild of my friend Matt Carter.


When he was studying at uni he found reading the news to be a great way to learn Mandarin, but that the level of standard Chinese news was too difficult, so he was inspired to create The Chairman’s Bao. The great thing about the site is that the three founders are students of Chinese, so it’s been made very much with the user in mind. How did it all come together? The idea’s been in motion since 2012, but it’s only in the last eight months or so that things have really began to take off. At the moment we’re just a couple of weeks away from site launch, so I have no doubt that by the time EAST’s Winter Edition is published everything will be up and running... hopefully!

a lid on those just for now! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers? Head over to the site today and sign up! Our first six months are a pilot launch stage so the more people who use the site and get in touch with comments and suggestions the better. We want the site to have a real community feel. On that note, if anybody wants to work with us or blog for us, please don’t hesitate to email me. You can email Sean at seanmcgibney@thechairmansbao.com.

Do you have any other plans for The Chairman’s Bao? We want to develop a mobile app and also license The Chairman’s Bao to educational institutions so that the site can be used during or as a supplement to Mandarin courses in the UK and abroad. We also have a few exciting plans for the future but I’ll have to keep

台北印象

W O R D S C H I - C H E N C H U N G (鍾其蓁)

Here Chi-Chen takes us on a journey through her own memories of the beautiful city of Taipei.

問我對台北的記憶是什麼? 喧鬧的夜市、陽明山的夜色、緊密排列的高樓、熙來攘往的人 群、灰濛濛綴著雨和燈光的街道。

不知不覺離開台灣這片土地也快半年了,離開這生活過二十多年的土地,離開這熟悉熱鬧 的台北這些日子了。記得那炙熱的太陽,像火爐般的盆地,擁擠的車水馬龍。出國前拼命想逃離到涼快 的國度,現在卻有點想念那一年四季都暖洋洋的城市。 台北,從小到大的家鄉,從小到大最緊密的記憶。記得小時候總是和奶奶搭著一號公車,去朋友家打麻 將。我仍能聽見那洗牌時嘩啦嘩啦的聲音與那淡淡的菸草味,記憶很模糊卻又如此清晰。在大人不休息 時我跑去坐在麻將桌旁,用小鳥與花蓋起我的城堡。以前總以為自己家是台北的中心點,總覺得回到台 北就到家了。但是越大越明白,世界大得不可思議,大到我不夠用一輩子的時間去探索了解它。 好喜歡在英國隨處可見大片綠油油的草皮,搭火車時窗外一望無際的風景和成群的牛羊,這些都是在台 北看不到的。但你問我最想念台北什麼? 我想念家旁邊兩三步就到的電影院,想念閒暇時帶一本書去 看的咖啡廳,想念晚上和家人一起去吃飯的小吃店。有時候,思念的不是地方,是那個氛圍、那個時間 點,和那些人。記得仰著頭透過綠色樹蔭看到的陽光,那陽光細緻灑在臉上的記憶。 你問我對台北的記憶是什麼?是一個不斷努力掙扎,時間堆疊拼湊,同時不失人情味的城市,是家。

Chi-Chen is studying for an MA in International Marketing Management.

lueastmagazine.com | EAST 19


EDUCATION IN CAMBODIA

Volunteering in Tonle Bati

20 EAST | Winter 2015

W

e all awoke with excitement and anticipation of what was to come in the following weeks. The bus ride was a bumpy one as we left the busy streets of Phnom Penh for barren country roads. On our arrival at the school our excitement peaked, as the school was a gem immersed in nature. The school was made from bamboo and so were our beds: all basic yet beautiful. Tonle Bati is a pocket of paradise. Tonle Bati school itself backed onto an idyllic lake full of lotus flowers, with a collection of small temples on the other side. When sleeping on our surprisingly comfy bamboo beds we were amongst the bright green treetops and were thankful for the gentle breeze that blew through the building.


The creator of the project at Tonle Bati was Muoy You, Muoy meaning “number one”. She explained to us her gripping life story, which had been strongly affected by the communist Khmer Regime, a tyrannical political party that murdered around a quarter of the population of Cambodia in the 1970s. Muoy was distanced from the atrocities of the regime as she was at university in France at the time, but the regime meant that she was unable to return to her home in Cambodia. Many of the workers at our accommodation, including our cook and some of the builders, had also been affected by the genocide, as it took place so recently in Cambodian history. The schoolchildren traveled from the surrounding areas and also down from Phnom Penh with Muoy and her staff each day. The children from the surrounding areas had lower levels of English and higher levels of poverty than the children from Phnom Penh. Their families had a much lower income and limited access to education; without the school here at Tonle Bati they would have no access to quality education, only the substandard education offered by the public schools. At the beginning of the project, many of the children who lived at Tonle Bati were very timid and reluctant to speak any English. However by the end of the project, the children had become more confident in themselves, more comfortable around their new teachers and had seen an improvement in their English. In the mornings we woke up at half six for a half seven start on the building site. We shoveled mountains of dirt and we made concrete by hand, mixing buckets of sand, gravel, cement and water together. This allowed us to pick up a little Khmer as we counted up to twenty-four buckets of sand and gravel at a time! We split up our afternoon timetable into three classes - Arts and Crafts, Sports, and English Language. In the evenings, we taught English to the builders whom we worked with in the mornings and to other members of the community who wanted to learn English in order to support their children. This was very challenging, but was also perhaps the most rewarding experience. Some of our pupils were complete beginners who couldn’t even read their own Khmer language, thus making it very difficult to explain certain linguistic concepts. The builders also ranged in ability, from complete beginners to those with more advanced English. Most of them had chil-

dren at the school and it was lovely to get to know whole families. We were usually quite tired during the evenings so spent a lot of time reading and writing our diaries. Some evenings we played cards and other games in order to get to know each other. On a few other evenings some of us sat in the field with a number of the workers and we helped them collect crickets and beetles to fry and eat – yum! We also sampled a local delicacy of chicken foetus, although I’m not sure we would sample it again! It was lovely to interact with the workers in their own setting and free time and to try and speak a little more Khmer and English with them. The weekends we spent travelling around Cambodia, and also many weekends were spent in Phnom Penh, but one of my favourite places was Koh Rong: an island which we could only describe as heavenly. A bumpy boat ride took us from the mainland. Tremendous green palms bordered the white sandy beaches, the bamboo restaurants, and the hostels. We stayed at an adorable guesthouse with huts made of bamboo and straw complete with big airy beds. The day was spent relaxing and exploring before meeting up to get on a boat in the evening to go swimming with plankton. We climbed into the boat, not quite sure what to expect from this expedition. Sometime later, we anchored up in the middle of the ocean, then we jumped into the water and into one of the most magical experiences you could ever imagine. The plankton surrounded us, glittering in the water like the stars in the clear night sky above us. We were amazed at the wonder of nature. The plankton only shimmered upon touch so they appeared around us as we swam and played in the water. In the black of the night they stood out and shone at the touch of our skin. These were just some of the treasures Cambodia had to offer. Words alone cannot describe the magic and the memories that the country gave me. I have never met people so welcoming and seen such beautiful sunsets and sunrises in my life. Having left, I feel like I have another home on the other side of the world. Esther Eldridge is a Politics and Philosophy student at Leeds University.

lueastmagazine.com | EAST 21


‘YOU SOUND FUNNIER IN ENGLISH’ How Our Personas are Reconstructed Through Different Languages WORDS AND IMAGES PUNYARUK BAINGERN

You are not funny”, was not what you want to hear from your boss, especially if you worked in advertising and you were paid to be interesting. It was particularly shocking as I remembered making my friends laugh quite often during college years. Were they high? Was my mind playing tricks on me? Seeing that I spent about half of my college nights not sleeping, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had actually hallucinated half of those experiences due to sleep deprivation. I admit that, in Thai, I was no good with jokes, but I kept on trying anyhow. In fact, watching people cringe from a terrible delivery satisfied my sadistic glee. However, now that I have come to study in the UK, people suddenly find me funny again. Does my brain have an on-off switch that would activate the ‘funny’ only on a school campus? Did my sense of humour run away for a while, and now it has returned? Or is it because I used to communicate in different languages to my boss and my friends? I graduated in the US, but I came back to work in my home country, Thailand. Technically, there shouldn’t have been any difference. I am the same person, and I am pretty darn sure that I don’t have multiple personalities. Well... at least that was what I originally thought. Now that I think about it, perhaps I am a Thai Dr. Jekyll with an English Mr. Hyde after all. On further observation, I realise that I speak differently as I change languages. When I speak in Thai, I pepper sentences with a large dose of ‘Perhaps’, ‘Maybe’, ‘I am not entirely sure but’ and all kinds of long winded linguistic expansions that students might stuff into their essays as a final resort to reach the word count. These filler words are surprisingly sparse in my English speech.

22 EAST | Winter 2015

Whilst I believe I am equally expressive in both languages, I tend to keep my English sentences shorter, punchier, as though I am talking to an distracted drunk guy at a loud party with a gun pointed to my head and my life depends on getting a crack out of him. Why does this happen? Are languages just means of communication? The thing is, there is actually a great deal of cultural politics that concerns the use language. Although we ought to be fully in control of our own language, as we choose what we want to say, the different selections of words to choose from seems to affect how we shape our speech in ways we might not have imagined. For example, in Thai there is a huge variety of words that signify social standing. This requires you to be constantly aware of your position in relation to the person you are talking to. If you are talking to somebody in English, you would simply refer to him/her as ‘you’ without much consideration. However, if you are talking in Thai, there are suddenly countless variations of ‘you’ to use. You could use ‘พี่’ to address someone older or in a higher social position to show honorific kinship. In contrast, you would use ‘น้อง’ to address someone in a lower social position, such as your younger sibling. ‘เธอ’ is a feminine ‘you’ with a softer tone attached, while ‘นาย’ is masculine and a bit rougher. If you are being impolite, or you are talking to a close mate, you can call them ‘มึง’, or you could create a distance and polite tone by using ‘คุณ’. While it typically is never a life and death situation to use the wrong ‘you’ or other words with a variation of formality, the mere availability of these variations suggest that you have to think a bit about it, if you don’t know which the other person would prefer.


Since I have spent my college and high school years overseas, I could be quite dumb at reading Thai social cues. Therefore, I occasionally construct overtly roundabout conversations that avoid saying ‘you’ or ‘I’ when I don’t want to commit a social faux pas. Social standing is so linked with Thai language, to the point that there is a whole set of special grammar rules used only for royalty, and another set for the monks, which were weirdly both a mandatory exam for Thai students, even though most of us won’t ever get to chat to the King. Speaking of a chat with the King, I have a friend whose father had a chance to be in a car ride with the King once. Being a graduate from Germany, her father had no idea which word to use. After a moment of awkward silence, the King said to him “Let we just speak in English”, and then they conversed like normal people. It is a cute story, but it is a good demonstration of the weird power-balance in Thai language that isn’t as common in English. Another interesting thing about Thai language is the popularity of ambiguity. One of the most popular and infamous Thai answers is ‘ไม่เป็นไร’. People often mistranslate it to ‘Nevermind’, but ‘ไม่เป็นไร’ doesn’t actually have an established meaning. It could actually be used in place of a ‘Nevermind’, but it could also be used for a ‘No’, or a ‘No, but maybe yes if you insist’, or an ‘Actually yes but no since I don’t want to sound demanding’. I consider it one of the more annoyingly passive-aggressive words in the world. There was a past incident when I tried asking a girl whether she needed any help, and she quickly popped the usual ‘ไม่ เป็นไร’. Being an idiot, I took it literally, and I later found out that she had wanted me to help. She thought that I would be forcefully generous and assist her anyhow,

or at least have kept on asking until she had to give a ‘ก็ได้’ (‘Okay, since you insist’). Basically, it is like an opened-ended answer that allows the other party to interpret the meaning even when you already have a definite answer in mind. There is a good deal of these ambiguous answers in Thai, and most of them don’t have an English equivalent. For example, ‘เกรงใจ’ (or ‘You are being too kind’) is another popular ambiguous answer that doesn’t have a direct English translation. It can work as a polite ‘No’ or a ‘Yes, but I don’t want to sound needy’. As annoying as it can be, some Thai people have explained to me that these answers are important because being too direct about your want isn’t nice. Also, ambiguity is good because it means you can’t be wrong or right, and being wrong, or losing face, is bad for typical Thai people. Combine just these few mentioned aspects, and you already have a language with a built-in seniority system and plenty of doubts. Whether that is good or bad is open for debate, but it definitely has an impact on your speech. In my case, it is only bad because I am an awkward, Westernised idiot who doesn’t read between the lines nearly enough, so whatever I wish to say in Thai tends to be held back and automatically redefined a before I express it. No wonder why my boss and Thai colleagues thought my timing was horrendous. Nevertheless, as many of us here are learning another language from a vastly different culture, it is quite an interesting observation to monitor whether a different language can change how you speak or not. As for me, this is why I have written this for you in English. Punyaruk is studying for an MA in Advertising & Design.

lueastmagazine.com | EAST 23


THE LONG TANG GAMES WORDS AND PHOTOS BEBE ROSS

A

couple of months after arriving in Shangfhai, I felt myself and the other Leeds students begin to get into a rut of everyday life. The city is famous for its fast-paced lifestyle, the skyline and the busy streets, and so, unlike other Chinese cities, particularly Beijing, Shanghai can often feel culturally weak. Yes, there are the gardens at Yu Yuan, the water towns on the city outskirts, and Jing’an Temple, but it is so easy to become caught up in the sky scrapers. At times, you can glimpse into a world of old China, when you see taichi being practised early in the morning, communal dancing late at night, and groups of old men crowded around games of Chinese checkers on street corners. Yet it seems like the rest of the time everyone is far too busy to take part. Because of this, and the enormous population within the city, many of us became slightly exhausted and eager to avoid crowds unless

24 EAST | Winter 2015

absolutely necessary. A student in one of our classes had advertised a morning of ‘cultural exchange’. Another Leeds student had agreed to do this, and mainly out of curiosity as well as the reassurance of the company of someone I knew, I also agreed. However, as I had to wake up at 7am on a Saturday morning I was tempted not to even go through with my commitment, but I bought my favourite 35p breakfast pancake and was on my way. We met several other foreign students from Jiaotong University who had all agreed to take part, and none of us had any idea what the morning would entail. We were all a little resentful of the unreasonable start. The taxi got us slightly lost but eventually we were led to a community of longtangs in central Shanghai, a short walk away from People’s Square. Longtangs are a puzzle of lanes within Shang-


hai, comparable to the more famous hutongs in Beijing. They are enclaves of Chinese community life and perhaps an inkling of what life in Shanghai may have been like before the economic zone in Pudong was established. However, if you pass them by on a normal day, they are relatively inconspicuous, with people getting on with their daily business. However, on this particular morning when we arrived, we turned a corner to find perhaps two hundred longtang civilians crowded into the small streets, methodically lined up and placed into groups. I cannot compare the atmosphere to anything I have seen before in this city; I could have never prepared myself for it and it was energising in spite of the early hour. Despite being entirely overwhelmed by the situation we had been placed in, we were quickly positioned in a team at the very front of the assembly. Amongst the stares of the crowd our confusion heightened as we were still entirely unaware of what was to be expected of us. To be honest we were all slightly terrified. Cameramen began filming and photographers began rapidly taking photographs as we were all firmly ordered to maintain our positions in a straight line. Then began a series of pretty bizarre and random speeches which we were entirely unable to hear over the noise of the crowd. In the style of a pantomime, we clapped, cheered and booed when appropriate, until the speeches ended as abruptly as they began. The crowd was forced to somehow part and the middle aged men in suits who had just spoken were then to take part in a pretty humiliating race with a wheel and a stick, which apparently indicated the start of the activities. At this point we began to realise what the morning would entail: that we would be taking part in longtang games. We were dragged from one game to another by various groups - young and old. With so much excitement and laughter in the air the atmosphere was so animated and vibrant it was easy to forget any language barriers that remained between us. The games were entirely random, and at times embarrassing, but I have never really seen such a strong sense of community spirit in my travels before. I genuinely believe every single person in the longtang was there, smiling and laughing at each other and at us. Absolutely everyone wanted to talk to us and show off any English speaking skills that they may or may not have had. A particularly favourite character whom we met was an elderly man who proudly repeated several times in both Chinese and English that he was 85 years old, and that he deeply admired Queen Victoria. None of us had the heart to inform him that Victoria was no longer the British

monarch, and hasn’t been for over a century. Yet as the conversations advanced, this small fact somehow did not seem important. The assortment of games was overwhelming. At times we struggled to comprehend how something so random could possibly become a game. We had to race each other with straps of wood attached to our feet; try and place some string round our necks in a glass bottle; but I think my personal favourite was the Chicken Game. All you had to do was blow your piece of chicken shaped card against the opponent, so that it crossed the half way mark. I suppose a little like Sumo wrestling, but replacing the semi-naked and overweight wrestler with cardboard which was shaped somewhat unconvincingly like a bird. The atmosphere of the day was unparalleled. It showed me that Shanghai does in fact contain plenty of personal culture, despite heavy influences from laowais and the glitzy areas such as Pudong. All it took to discover it was a willingness to give up a Saturday morning. Bebe is a second year student of Chinese & History and is currently on her year abroad in Shanghai.

lueastmagazine.com | EAST 25


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Interview with CRCC Asia Alumna Rebecca Shapiro Rebecca is 21 years old and has recently graduated with a First Class honours degree in Politics from the University of Leeds. Here we find out more about her internship experience in China. Why did you decide to intern in China and was this your first international internship? To be honest, I had just broken up with a fairly long-term boyfriend and so was applying for lots of different things with a new lease of life! But, as a politics student, I had become increasingly aware of 1) China’s rise in the economic, political world and 2) how difficult it is to get a good job with a degree in social sciences from a relatively good university. Also, I had never studied abroad before, and I hadn’t had a gap year, and thus needed some time to reflect on career options before committing. What did you hope to gain from the experience? I wanted to make my CV stand out. China seemed the obvious place to go, considering my academic background. I also really wanted to experience life in Shanghai as I thought it seemed the most modern, cosmopolitan, and vibrant city in China. What was your impression of Shanghai and what did you enjoy most? I absolutely loved it. Shanghai was so much fun. The skyline is incredible, as is the buzz, and array of restaurants, bars and clubs, and cultural venues. In general I adored working in China, especially in contrast with London, which I feel is stagnating and is extortionate. Being in Shanghai it felt like economic growth and the world’s energy are increasingly centering on Asia. The chaos, construction and atmosphere really excited me. Getting to work cost just 30p; the metro was crowded but modern and great. The food was another reason I loved working in China.

What did you learn about China and what did you gain from this experience? From grasping the cultural differences China and the West have, to finding out how easy it is to make friends from all over the world I learned a lot during my time in China. I got better at using chopsticks, gained a love for street food, SmartShanghai, and learnt lots in the work environment, too. What I experienced to be most different was how influential ‘guanxi’ is. This focus on ‘relationships’ (the literal translation) means that it is nearly impossible to get business done without building up a networking friendship first. Furthermore my time in China inspired me to apply for opportunities worldwide, and so, indirectly led to my editorial internship with ELLE Canada. Additionally, it furthered my passion for photography – maybe just because being abroad and out of your comfort zone gives you more time for self-reflection. What was the toughest aspect of your time abroad? The language barrier – without a doubt. Knowing I had expected that most young people/ taxi drivers/ waiters in Shanghai would have a basic grasp of English. So the realization that few Chinese people can make even the smallest of small talks meant that sign language/ photos/ pointing was used a lot. Would you live or work in China in the future? I would jump at the chance to work in Shanghai again. Shanghai is my favourite city in the world and I really did fall in love with it (annoyingly gushy, I’m aware). After my internship I spent three weeks travelling and visited Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Yangshuo and more. I left China feeling like it still has so much to offer – in the future I would love to go back. If I moved to China I would make a massive effort to learn mandarin though, as I didn’t bother much beyond a few phrases and numbers in my two months there.


East Magazine Winter 2015  

In collaboration with the Business Confucius Institute at Leeds, this semester's edition includes China's ivory trade, Thai stereotypes, and...

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