Posts Tagged ‘China’

I just finished reading Deborah Fallows’ Dreaming in Chinese. I am just fascinated with the Chinese culture, and her book addressed some of the issues I had encountered during our time in Taiwan. For instance, some of the Mandarin phrases seem too blunt, but what may seem rude to me is not all considered rude in China (and I assume, Taiwan as well). For instance, ‘Bú yào’ was a phrase we used frequently during our time in Taiwan. It means ‘don’t want’ and is typically used to say you are not interested in something, or to turn down food or other offers. It would seem more appropriate to me to say, ‘no, thank you.’ However, this is an acceptable and standard way to turn down an offer. She goes on to say that she learned the Chinese find Westerners use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ too often and that to them, the overuse of using those phrases may be considered impolite:

“My Chinese friends say…we use way too many of them for Chinese taste. A Chinese linguist, Kaidi Zhan, says that using a please as in “Please pass the salt” actually has the opposite effect of politeness here in China. The Chinese way of being polite to each other with words is to shorten the social distance between you. And saying please serves to insert a kind of buffer or space that says, in effect, that we need some formality between us here.” – Excerpt from Dreaming in Chinese

I probably said ‘xiexie’ (thank you) a thousand times while we were in Taiwan. No one seemed offended…and many seemed appreciative we even attempted to speak the language.

Another chapter talks about the evolution to a national language in China and the use of simplified characters instead of traditional characters. She said the changeover to simplified characters in the People’s Republic of China was part of an effort under Chairman Mao Zedong to improve literacy rates. I did not realize that some characters in Mandarin may require up to 20 strokes to write. One of the issues with choosing a national language was the different dialects and accents spoken in China. However, the written language is the same so everyone can read the same characters. This is apparently the reason the Chinese news broadcasts always have the captioning on the screen – even if you cannot understand what the news anchor’s dialect or accent, most people can read the characters. (Taiwan uses the traditional characters, not the simplified characters.)

Fallows and her husband were living in China during the horrific earthquake in 2008 in Sichuan. It was interesting to hear her perspective of the event as she observed changes in the way the Chinese media reported on the rescue efforts in the week following the tragedy:

“There was something unusual about the TV programming and the TV language during early coverage of the earthquake. The programming was ragged and unpolished, and the language was unrehearsed and plainspoken, more like normal street chatter. This was a far cry from the usual carefully scrubbed and scrutinized productions, with their official jargon and heavy words. Everyone agreed, at least at the beginning, that the government was allowing ‘unprecedented transparency’ in media coverage.” – Excerpt from Dreaming in Chinese

This book, while not about Taiwan, was fascinating to read. It definitely helped me understand and appreciate some of the cultural differences.

I have rediscovered the wonderful world of books in the last few weeks, since my husband gave me a Kindle for Christmas. It’s like spending hours in a bookstore, but it’s more convenient because I don’t have four kids creating havoc in the store or begging me to leave.

I have just started reading Deborah Fallows’ Dreaming in Chinese. She and her husband lived in China for three years. It’s not the same as Taiwan, but I am fascinated by her experiences in understanding the Chinese culture and learning the language. I have only read the first few chapters – look for a review of her book here when I am finished. And if you have any book recommendations for me, I would love to hear them.

Adoption in the news

Posted: April 29, 2009 in Adoption
Tags: ,

We hope to share an update soon about our adoption journey.  Meanwhile, there have been some interesting articles about adoption in the news recently:

You can see other recent articles about adoption in the sidebar.

A boy being rescued in Dujiangyan.

Please pray for the relief workers and victims of the recent earthquake in China. The news is currently reporting 12,000 people have died, and the death toll is expected to rise. I was concerned about the Starfish Foster Home in Xi’an, China, which is located in the province to the north of the epicenter. I tried emailing Amanda de Lange, the woman who runs the home. She is currently in Shanghai with a child recovering from surgery, but I received an automated email response with this information: 

There has been a 7.8 earthquake in Sichuan the province south of us. Xian did feel the earthquake and the babies were all outside for a long while. I got a really frantic phone call from home which I could not understand a word because they were speaking so fast. There was some damage to the apartment but none of the babies were injured. In other words they are all okay.” – Amanda de Lange, email response on May 13, 2008

If you would like to support the relief efforts through a donation, we support Samaritan’s Purse. Franklin Graham, the President of Samaritan’s Purse, is currently in China and is working with Chinese officials on the best way for Samaritan’s Purse to help.  Please remember to pray, too, for the relief efforts for the cyclone that struck Myanmar. 

I learned today of a South African woman whose dream of living in China and helping orphans has become a reality. This woman is named Amanda de Lange and she started the Starfish Foster Home in Xian, China a few years ago. Her foster home helps care for children from a government orphanage who have special needs and require surgery or other special care. She shares on her blog how the home came to be named for starfish:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a figure in the distance. As he got closer he realized the figure was that of a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.””Son,” the man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t possibly make a difference.” After listening politely the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the surf. Then smiling at the man he said, “I made a difference for that one.” – Shared by Amanda on her blog

I am so inspired to hear about this home, and the impact Amanda is having in the lives of these little children. I pray for God’s blessing for her and her work, and for all of the children in her care. She provides a list of items she needs on her website, and you can even visit and volunteer at the home if you are able. Recently she posted on her blog the need for donations to pay for surgeries for some of the children.  Wow – it really is incredible to see how God is using our adoption journey to learn about people like Amanda.