My inclination is to start winding things down here in anticipation of our June departure. Yet, things are just starting to pick-up. Jason has had a very busy April. He is always in demand during earth month. Now we are both receiving invitations to give guest lectures, judge the English debate competition, etc, etc. All of this really goes to show you that it takes about 8 months to get your bearings in a place.
Today I told Jie-jie and Mei-mei that Clammel (our remaining fish – Rosie was no longer with us this morning) and I had spoken and that Clammel told me he was lonely without Rosie and wanted to move outside to the big fish pond where the other fish were. Without hesitation Jie-jie replied, “Well, the thing is, I was talking to the fish out in the pond, and they told me that Clammel is too small and he might get hurt. When he is a little bigger he can be out there with them but right now he is too young to be with all the other fish.” That’s right outmaneuvered by the 4-year-old, again.
I am really enjoying my seminar. The students are great. I’ve got 3 sociologists, a geographer, an anthropologist, and 2 Ph.D. students in the school of foreign languages and literature – one who is writing her dissertation on Chinese American immigrant fiction. Today we started talking about their seminar papers. I want them to apply cultural analysis/culture concepts to the work they are doing with their advisors. They seem to be struggling for topics so we spent the second half of class going over ideas. Many of the students are studying economic development and consumption – migrant workers, changing Chinese spending patterns, the effects of environmental and industrial projects on local lifestyles. I challenged them to use cultural analysis to examine the assumptions and narratives that they draw upon in their work (e.g. the academic definition of development and consumption versus the way that people make sense of industrializing China and normative assumptions about what makes a good worker in modern China).