December 2, 2008

Holding Up the Sky--Book review on NYT

Published: November 7, 2008
Toward the end of “Factory Girls,? her engrossing account of the lives of young migrant workers in southern China, Leslie Chang describes receiving a gift. Min, a young woman who works at a handbag plant, presents Chang with an authentic Coach purse plucked fresh from the assembly line. It emerges that Min’s dormitory-style bedroom is stuffed with high-end leatherwear. When the author proposes giving one of the handbags to the mother of Min’s boyfriend, Min scoffs. “His mother lives on a farm,? she says. “What’s she going to do with a handbag??

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From Village to City in a Changing China

By Leslie T. Chang

420 pp. Spiegel & Grau. $26

'Factory Girls,' by Leslie T. Chang: Dynamic Young Engines Driving China’s Epic Boom (October 22, 2008)
An Excerpt From 'Factory Girls' ( emergence of China’s titanic manufacturing base has been chronicled in numerous books and articles in recent years, but Chang has elected to focus not on the broader market forces at play but on the individuals, most of them women, who leave their villages and seek their fortunes on the front lines of this economy.

Since the 1970s, China has witnessed the largest migration in human history, Chang observes, “three times the number of people who emigrated to America from Europe over a century.? There are 130 million migrant workers in China today. A few decades ago, a rural peasant could expect to live and die on the same plot of land his family had farmed for generations. But the country’s explosive economic growth has allowed the young and adventurous to trade the stifling predictability of village life for the excitement, opportunity and risk of the factory boomtown.

A former China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Chang focuses on one boomtown in particular, Dongguan, a frenetic jumble of megafactories in Guangdong Province. The city produces garments of every description and 30 percent of the world’s computer disk drives. One-third of all the shoes on the planet are produced in the province, and Chang spends time in a factory that manufactures Nike, Reebok and other brands. It has 70,000 employees, most of them women, and boasts its own movie theater, hospital and fire department.

Dongguan is “a perverse expression of China at its most extreme,? Chang suggests; it is polluted, chaotic and corrupt, but jostling also with a generation of ­strivers who are unashamed of their ambition and astonishingly indifferent to risk. New arrivals from the countryside can double or triple their income in a couple of weeks by taking a computer class or learning a little English. Switching jobs becomes a form of self-reinvention, and starting a new business is as easy as purchasing a new business card.

To Chang, the factory girls seem to live in “a perpetual present.? They have forsaken the Confucian bedrock of traditional Chinese culture for an improvised existence in which history and filial loyalty have been replaced by rapid upward mobility, dogged individualism and an obsessive pursuit of a more prosperous future. After revealing that her driver’s license was purchased on the black market, one woman seems to voice the general ethos of the town when she says to Chang, of her abilities behind the wheel, “I know how to drive forward.?

With new job opportunities forever appearing and huge personnel turnover in any given factory, friendships are difficult to make and to maintain, and Chang details the loneliness and isolation of the migrant workers. Dongguan’s laborers assemble cellphones, but they purchase them as well, and with their speed-dial archives of acquaintances, the phones become a sort of lifeline, the only way to keep track of the breakneck comings and goings of friends. If a worker’s cellphone is stolen, as they often are, friends, boyfriends and mentors may be lost to her forever. “The easiest thing in the world,? Chang remarks more than once, “was to lose touch with someone.?

People living their lives “on fast-­forward? in this manner would seem to resist any kind of comprehensive portraiture by a reporter. But Chang perseveres, hanging around the factories, purchasing cellphones for some of the women she meets so that she can keep track of them, and eventually renting an apartment in Dongguan. While she relates the stories of numerous different women, she becomes closest with Min, who gave her the purse, and with Chunming, who left her home in Hunan Province in 1992 and has cycled through countless careers and relationships in the years since. (It is Chunming who can only drive forward.)

Chang’s extraordinary reportorial feat is the intimacy with which she presents the stories of these two women. Min and Chunming lack the reserve of some of their colleagues. They share their diary entries and their text messages, their romantic entanglements and their sometimes strained relationships with the families they left behind. The result is an exceptionally vivid and compassionate depiction of the day-to-day dramas, and the fears and aspirations, of the real people who are powering China’s economic boom.

BY delving so deeply into the lives of her subjects, Chang succeeds in exploring the degree to which China’s factory girls are exploited — working grueling hours in sometimes poor conditions for meager wages with little job security — without allowing the book to degenerate into a diatribe. There is never any doubt that the factory owners in Hong Kong and Taiwan — and the consumers in American shopping malls — have the better end of the bargain. But for all the dislocation, isolation and vulnerability they experience, Chang makes clear that for the factory girls life in Dongguan is an adventure, and an affirmation of the sort of individualism that village life would never allow.

“If it was an ugly world,? Chang concludes, “at least it was their own.?

Patrick Radden Keefe is a fellow at the Century Foundation. His book “The Snakehead,? about the Chinese human smuggler Sister Ping, will be published next year.

November 2, 2008

Seeking Chinese artists and cultural specialists

The Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota is seeking to build a database of artists and cultural specialists who can perform, demonstrate and/or teach Chinese cultural arts and activities for K-12 and community audiences. We are interested in finding Chinese calligraphers, musicians, kung fu instructors and paper cutters, among other specialists.

Artists and cultural specialists should submit a current resume or CV and work samples to:

Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota
160 University International Center
331-17th Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

October 20, 2008

An article on Chinese EFL learners

Professor Connie Walker recommends this article:

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September 27, 2008

An articles on Chinese schools

Professor Connie Walker recommended this article on situations in Chinese schools.

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September 3, 2008


In this video, you will see how mooncakes are made by a pastry chef from Maxim's, Hong Kong's biggest mooncake manufacturer.

And why do the Chinese have this tradition of having mooncakes during the Moon Festival?

During the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1280-1368) China was ruled by the Mongols. Leaders from the preceding Song dynasty (A.D.960-1280), unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, set out to coordinate a rebellion without being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Packed into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.

From China Books

August 31, 2008

Concordia Villages Twin Cities Programs

Concordia Language Villages has language immersion preschool programs in the Twin Cities area. We are currently looking for teachers for some of our fall classes.

SPANISH: In Minnetonka, we have both Lead Teacher and Assistant Teacher positions available for Thursday afternoons, Friday mornings, and/or Saturday mornings. In Woodbury, we have an Assistant Teacher position available for Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

CHINESE: In Minnetonka, we have a Lead Teacher and Assistant Teacher position for a class that meets Wednesday afternoons.

Becky "Annika" Hegstad

Pre-K Programs Coordinator

Barnehage Program Leader

Concordia Language Villages

Phone: 651-647-4357


2008 Immersion Education Conference

Immersion Education:
Pathways to Bilingualism & Beyond
2008 International Conference on Immersion Education

October 16–18, 2008Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

Language immersion education has emerged as a uniquely constituted, highly effective program model for launching students on the road to bilingualism, multilingualism and intercultural competence. School-based immersion programs follow a variety of paths, including one-way foreign language immersion, two-way bilingual immersion, and indigenous immersion for language and culture revitalization. While each pathway targets distinct socio-cultural contexts and educational needs, all are grounded in a set of core characteristics with a strong focus on subject matter learning as well as language development.

Under the leadership of two national centers in the U.S., CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota) and CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C.), this third international conference on immersion education brings these pathways together to engage in meaningful dialogue and professional exchange across languages, levels, learner audiences, program models and sociopolitical contexts.

Featured Plenary Presentations & Speakers

Keynote Address
Immersion Education: Intercultural Competence
for Tomorrow’s Global Citizens
Myriam Met
Senior Research Associate
National Foreign Language Center
University of Maryland

Plenary Speakers

Learning to Read in a Second Language
Fred Genesee
Professor of Psychology
McGill University; Montreal, Quebec

Immersion in Hong Kong and Mainland China
Philip Hoare
Associate Professor
Hong Kong Institute of Education

Integrating Identity and Culture in Hawaiian Immersion
Kauanoe Kamana
Associate Professor, Hawaiian Medium Curriculum
William H. “Pila? Wilson
Professor and Chair, Hawaiian Studies Division
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

Counterbalancing Form-Focused and
Content-Based Instruction in Immersion Pedagogy
Roy Lyster
Associate Professor of Second Language Education McGill University; Montreal, Quebec

This unique event offers over 90 paper sessions, discussion sessions and symposia that address the four main conference themes: Immersion Pedagogy, Culture and Identity, Policy and Advocacy and Program Design and Evaluation. See the online conference schedule at:

After School Chinese Instructors Needed?

The Mounds View School District, located just 10 miles north of St. Paul, is looking for after school Chinese instructors to teach Chinese language and culture to K - 5 elementary students. Details of the job are listed below. A teaching license is not required. Please apply on-line at . For additional information, please contact Mounds View Community Education at 651-621-7400.

Seeking PT Chinese Language Teacher?

St. Paul Preparatory School in downtown St. Paul has an immediate opening for a part time Chinese Language teacher. Licensure is not necessary but fluency in Mandarin Chinese is required and experience teaching is desired. The position is Monday – Friday, 1:50-3:05 p.m. and consists of two classes, Chinese Language Levels I and II.

Interested parties should email their information to

Gina Robertson

Assistant Principal

St. Paul Preparatory School,

Nacel International School System

380 Jackson St. Suite 100

St. Paul, MN 55101

651-288-4606 Phone

651-288-4616 Fax

Northfield's First Community Chinese School To Offer Courses This Fall?

Northfield's First Community Chinese School To Offer Courses This Fall

Northfield, Minn.— Did you see the Olympics this summer? Do you want to travel to China? Do you want to learn how to speak Chinese? Now, you will have the opportunity to learn Chinese right here in Northfield!

The Northfield Community Chinese School (NCCS) is an educational organization founded in 2008 under the auspices of IFTPA, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. In addition to providing high-quality Chinese language instruction, NCCS's mission is to promote Chinese culture and intercultural understanding and cooperation. At the current time, NCCS will offer two levels of Chinese language instruction in classes for children that also include the playing of Chinese games and the singing of Chinese songs, and two classes for adults.

The Northfield Community Chinese School will begin offering Mandarin Chinese this fall beginning Saturday, September 13. The students will meet once a week throughout the school year. We plan to use the textbooks Standard Chinese I for students with no Chinese background (K-5) and New Practical Chinese Reader II for students with Chinese language background (6-12). Parents will also have the opportunity to study alongside their children. NCCS is also offering Chinese cooking classes once a month and weekly Chinese class for business. For more information on classes, please contact NCCS at:

Northfield Community Chinese School is committed to admitting students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and providing them all rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, tuition assistance programs, or extracurricular and other school-administered programs.

Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota?

Dear Chinese Language Teachers,

Greetings from the newly established Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota! The University of Minnesota will open the state's first Confucius Institute on September 19. President Bruininks, state and University officials, Chinese representatives, and invited guests will be on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Once opened, the Confucius Institute will work on programming and initiatives to support you in several ways.

In the next year, the Confucius Institute will:
· Work with University and community experts to create professional development opportunities for teachers.
· Provide a Chinese Language Resource Library with more than 2000 titles of language, culture and reference books, DVDs, CDs, other materials
· Collaborate with the Minnesota Department of Education and the Hanban to bring Chinese language teachers to Minnesota.
· Work with the school districts and school administrators to create Chinese language programs and school exchanges with K-12 schools in China.
· Bring Chinese language and cultural programming to greater Minnesota through the University's coordinated campus system.
· Provide Chinese language and cultural programming for the greater Minnesota community.

There is much more to comeŠ so keep your eyes open!

I am sure that all of you are busy preparing for the start of the school year, but I would like to share a wonderful cultural program with you and your students. Following the opening, the Confucius Institute will present a spectacular Chinese music and cultural performance, Jiangsu Silk and Bamboo Performing Arts Troupe on Sunday, September 21, 2008 at the Ted Mann Concert Hall at 7:00 p.m.

This 25-member troupe from the Jiangsu Performing Arts Company will feature 13 instrumentalists, two vocalists, two dancers, two acrobats, three Beijing Opera actors and actress, and 1 puppet show actress. The Jiangsu Performing Arts Company is one of the largest performing companies of China. The troupe's lead performer is renowned Erhu player and composer Changyao Zhu. Zhu is an Erhu maestro, composer, and national first-class artist. Zhu has been hailed as "national treasure of the world" and "one of the world's most excellent players of stringed instruments" and has visited many countries to give performances.

This will be rare opportunity for your students to see a great variety of Chinese performance arts in one program; they will present programs featuring traditional Chinese instrumental and vocal music, folk dance, magic, puppet show, acrobatics and excerpts from the most famous Beijing Opera classics. It is packed full of stunning and beautiful performances that will delight audiences of all ages.

Please find a concert announcement at Please contact us if you would like additional flyers or postcards sent to you. The concert will be held at Ted Mann Concert Hall at 2128 Fourth Street South, Minneapolis, Sunday, September 21, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $28, with discounts available for groups larger than eight. Call the Confucius Institute at (612) 625-5080 for more information.

The Confucius Institute is located at the University International Center at 331-17th Ave SE in Minneapolis.

Joan A. Brzezinski
Acting Director, Confucius Institute
Assistant Director, China Center
University of Minnesota
160 University International Center
331 17th Ave S.E.Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: 612-625-5080
Fax: 612-625-5185

May 14, 2008

East Asian Library presentation

Presentation by Mr. Weiming Lu on Historic Beijing vs. Modern Metropolis:
Challenges of the 2008 Olympics Planning as part of China Today.

Mr. Weiming Lu, a distinguished urban planner, a numerous international design awards
recipient, an accomplished calligrapher, and an adviser to the City of Beijing and a
committee member of Beijing Olympic Screening Committee. In this brawn bag session,
Mr. Lu will address questions such as:

•How does Beijing, an ancient city of many historic sites, remake itself into a modern
metropolis for the coming Summer Olympics?
•What types of modern buildings/infrastructures have been built around Beijing and what
are the impacts?
•How did the city of Beijing seek creative ideas for planning the 2008 Olympics through
an international design competition?

A questions & answers session will follow after the presentation.

The East Asian Library will provide fresh tea and light Chinese treats.

Date: Wednesday (May 21st)
Time: 11:45am-1:00pm
Place: East Asian Library, Wilson Library Subbasement, West Bank

May 7, 2008

Yi Yi


Yi Yi, directed by Edward Yang (2000), shows how each member of a family in Taipei asks hard questions about life's meaning as they live through everyday quandaries.


US Department of State
Teachers of Critical Languages Program (TCLP)

Applications (due 5/16) to host an exchange teacher are currently
available for download at TCLP is a great program
that provides schools opportunities to develop and/or expand their
Chinese or Arabic language programs. Our program, through a grant from
the US Department of State, provides teachers' salaries, health care,
airfare, visa support, training, follow-up workshops, professional
development funds, and grant opportunities to support school
partnerships and educational exchanges. Schools interested in hosting a
teacher should feel free to contact me directly.

Ben Dunbar
Program Manager, Teacher Programs
American Councils for International Education
(202) 833-7522 / (202) 833-7523 (f)

May 2, 2008

web sites

Professor Diane Tedick provides this info:

Hi all—

In case you haven’t heard about these:

The Confucius Institute at Michigan State has developed a number of online Chinese resources:

the University of Maryland’s National Foreign Language Center has developed a website to help high school students learn to read Chinese and to provide support for teachers:


An index of Chinese characters for downloading can be found at:

Hope you find them useful.