Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Ivy, Zhang Ya Jiao, is from Datong in Shanxi Province, famous for its grottoes of Buddha. Ivy's father is the head of an arts high school and he is responsible for recruiting students to join the Communist Party. Her mother is an elementary school teacher. Ivy hopes to join the Party in the near future.
Ivy is interested in becoming a sports reporter. One of her heroes is the Chinese hurdle champion Liu Xiang, who won a gold medal in Athens in 2004 but injured himself at the start of the Beijing Olympics, breaking the hearts of millions of Chinese....including Ivy I am sure.


Wen Minzhe, Mindy, is from Shizuishan, the second largest city in Ningxia Province. Ningxia is one of the smallest and poorest provinces in China, about ten hours by train west of Beijing. Mindy's English was very good and she was one of the few students who always understood and laughed at my bad jokes. Mindy hopes to study abroad in the future. Mindy is interested in animation and new media. Maybe she can share some of her new media projects with us on this blog.


Liu Tian, who uses the English name Michelle, is from central Beijing. Her father's job has been to evict people from their old and sometimes rundown Beijing homes and convince them to move to new housing further away. I met with Michelle's parents in their home in Beijing in late June. Her mother presented me with some lovely momentos of China to take home with me. Michelle is a member of the Communist Party, she joined in high school and feels it is quite an honor. I will try to post some photos of my visit with her family in the near future.
Michelle was a child-actress, starring in a very popular children's show called 'Little Dragon'. I did not know this until the semester was nearly over. You can see some of her programs on the Chinese version of YouTube. Maybe she will add a link here.....


Sharon, Liu Xu Ming, is from Chongqing, where her father works in the Propaganda Ministry to communicate the Communist Party's policies to the local people. Her mother is a housewife. Sharon dreams of opening her own book store some day. She loves to read and understand the world more deeply. She hopes to pursue graduate school in Hong Kong.

What's in a name? Sharon has changed her English name to Sarah because she is upset with Sharon Stone's comments about the Sichuan earthquake. (Stone, a follower of the Dalai Lama, had said the devastating May earthquake could have been "bad Karma" following the Tibet incident in March). Previously, Sharon had wanted to use the name Sarah, after the "Terminator" character, Sarah Connor, because she was so "pure and resolute". Sarah/Sharon wanted to share those characteristics and she saw that in English Sarah and Sharon meant the same thing. She chose Sharon because the sh sound is similar to the xu sound in her middle name. But now in the wake of the Sharon Stone indicident, she has reverted to her first choice, Sarah.


Rosa prefers to be called by her Chinese name, Chen Yan. Rosa is from Chongqing in southwestern China, where her parents are both taxi drivers. Chen Yan hopes to be a television sports reporter. Chen Yan is working hard on her English, even watching "Desperate Housewives" to learn some more colloquial phrases!!
One day in June, Chen Yan escorted me to a school for migrant children in western Beijing and we gathered some great sound and photographs of the children. I wrote an article for an American newspaper about the school and I will post a link to it in the future. I also hope to make a slide show of the children using audio from their classroom. Here are a few of the photos.


Sofia, Li Shasha, is from Mudanjiang, in Heilongjiang Province in the northeastern part of China, what most westerners refer to as Manchuria. The first time I talked with Sofia, she told me she wanted to be a war correspondent, but first she thinks she should join the army to show her parents that she is strong. Sofia was very upset when the Olympic torch relay was disrupted in Europe. She does not understand why so many westerners are against China.


Stefanie, Yang Jie, is from Dachang in Hebei Province, about a three hour drive, south of Beijing. She is the oldest of three children. Her parents run a trucking company, transporting goods all over China, as well as selling and repairing trucks. Stefanie was raised in a lovely, spacious, courtyard home abutting a large corn field. Her grandparents and her siblings live in the home, while her parents live at the trucking company a short distance away. Stefanie was one Eve's roommates and she joined our class a bit late, as an auditor. Stefanie is a photojournalist and took lots of pictures of me and my daughter in China. Hopefully I will post some of them here. I visited Stefanie and her family in July and I hope to post a slideshow from that trip in the near future.


Pensy, a.k.a. Jia Siyu, is from the eastern suburbs of Beijing, Pinggu, the peach capital of China. She has an older brother, also a student in Beijing. Her mother is a fabulous cook and she served us a lovely meal when I visited her home in June. Pensy went to high school at the school affiliated with Renmin University, one of the most prestigious high schools in China. She was born February 17, 1987.


Hannah's Chinese name is He Nan, thus the English name she chose. Hannah is the first student I met in Beijing; she came to my apartment on our second day in China to help us with some translation. Hannah is from central Beijing. She is an only child. Her birthday is November 25th. I met Hannah's parents one day for coffee at Starbuck's in central Beijing. Her mother is a member of the Communist Party and hopes Hannah will join. Her father is an engineer. Hannah hopes to report on fashion and style and to be a chief editor or producer some day.


Eve, whose Chinese name is Zeng Yi, is from Yiyang in Hunan Province, the same place where my daughter Katie was born. Eve was born August 12, 1987, nine days before my eldest son, Rory, was born. Listen to Eve by clicking below. In July, my husband, daughter and I went with Eve to Yiyang and visited Katie's orphanage as well as the surrounding villages. I'll hopefully be posting a slide show of those images soon.

Girls of 405

Left to right: (front row) Sharon, Michelle, Pensy, Stefanie. (second row) Hannah, Sofia, Ivy, Eve. (back row) Rosa and Mindy.

These photos were taken on the last day of classes in June. Here, we are outside the journalism building where we met every Tuesday from 1:45 to 3:15. The other photo was taken at the Qing dynasty family restaurant on Suzhou Jie, about a half mile north of the Renmin University west gate (Renmin Daxue Ximen(R!!!)).