你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,
For everything else there is Mastercard.
I heard a story that goes a little like this. A man spent a considerable amount of time validating his university degree certificate and police check in summer. It cost him far too much for two pieces of paper (£5 at the solicitors, £30 at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and £30 at the Chinese consulate) – £130 for two pieces of paper. With that he left for Hong Kong, he met someone from his new school, obtaining a 60-day double-entry visa by the third day, and then entered China as a tourist. He had to exit China on the 30th day and on the 60th day, once again. This time the next visa was for only 14 days. On that 13th day, he exited and returned the same day, with a 30-day business visa in hand. Strangely, that man is now wondering what will happen next?
The man’s dreams of a life in China are fading, his insurance has been voided, he cannot obtain local medical treatment (if ever needed), and he has not rented an apartment. Is this illegal worker a hobo? Should he stay, or should he go? Previously, he worked for just under 4 years without a hitch – on a legal work and residence permit. As a native speaker, he has a university degree, the requisite TEFL, wants to learn Chinese and contribute to international relations. His years of experience gained count for diddly squat right now. I even heard he had to sign another form to say that his name is his name and to his knowledge, there is no other in China by that name.
Anyway, enough about him, let’s talk weather. Chilly in Carlisle? Icy in Ingleton? Yesterday, the mercury hit 28°C, which seems crazy for the 12th of November. Today, it is a fairly-humid 20°C, the downpours have been with us since 9am, making for a soggy ground and a real feel temperature of 27°C. The highest it will reach today is 25°C. For the remainder of the week, it is expected to hit 28°C, with lows of 18°C. Winter is coming, but nobody seems sure as to when…
“Don’t eat my little friends.” 27 tangerines to be precise. Each gifted to a student, on the basis that if they behave very well, they will be rewarded team by team. If not, they must give their tangerines to another student in a different team. It forms just one small segment of bringing the students together – and eradicating a simmering tension between one half-Japanese student (half-Chinese too) and his classmates. Many students are from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau too. One student is half-French. One student is half-Australian.
The whole Japan and China thing is instilled in culture, and is not a subject to approach lightly. My only concern is that a six-year old boy is being cruelly singled out for something he never experienced, nor did his father, and likely another generation after that too. Just like the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the actions of others cause an affect on the lives of those down on the ground. This being 72 years later than the conclusion of World War Two; even longer after the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria; 74 years following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident may have been 80 years ago, sparking up the bloody and cruel Second Sino-Japanese War. This war became popularised as the War of Resistance (抗日战争) and the eight years’ war of resistance (八年抗战). Even now the name has changed to reflect a conflict stemming back to 1931 (十四年抗战) – the 14 years’ war of resistance. The War of Jiǎwǔ (甲午戰爭; Jiǎwǔ Zhànzhēng) lasted around 8.5 months from 1894-1895. It is vastly confusing and a bitter time resulting in around 37,000 deaths. This period is often referred to as the First Sino-Japanese War. To complicate matters entirely China had been a in state of civil war from around 1927, following the April 12th Incident (四一二慘案). Even that stems back to the 1923 alliance by Nationalist Party of China (中國國民黨; Zhōngguó Guómíndǎng), with the Soviet Union. Only in 1912 had the Qing Dynasty (大清) ended, having started in 1636! So, after 276 years of stability, recent memory of the Middle Kingdom’s rule has been shaped drastically by times of warfare and leadership battles.
The People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国; Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó), founded on October 1st, 1949 followed almost a century of uncertainty, turbulence and conflict. To conclude, the past should affect not one child, but sadly it does. There is only one certainty in life and that is death. As a teacher we must protect, fight for and defend our students, supporting them in ways like a parent, but also that of a guardian of their galaxy. As a seed finds its way into the soil, it is protected from the environment overhead, and predation. We as teachers must be the soil to allow our seeds to grow. Without getting too convoluted or dull, the past is just that, and everything needs to be focused on turning the now into a great future, for each of us, our community, our countries, and ultimately our world – environment and all! Politics and history isn’t a place for a six-year old kid learning how to say, “I can play.” That’s not his place. He needs to focus on schooling, playing and growing up without distraction and fear. Twenty-eight degree temperatures can’t be enjoyed otherwise
再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye