Entries from January 2010 ↓

‘Hai Helps Haiti

In a previous post, I had mentioned that I’d be joining with some peeps here in some charity/volunteer work at the top of 2010….and that we have!  A few weeks ago, as a part of the BEAN Network here in the ‘Hai, several of us visited an orphanage for disabled children.  About 10 of us adults entered a small room of approximately 20-30 children, all anxious to meet their new adult-friends. For a period of just under 3 hours, we played, read books and fed these lil’ toddlers and watched them smile and made them chuckle till their belly ached!  But I gotta say, it was not easy!  I was zonked even after just 2.5 hours with these kids; I definitely came out with much respect to the orphanage handlers for sure. We’re hoping to return again in the near future to spend time in the infants room….

Now as we zip forward to the present-day,tomorrow night (aka evening before I jet down to NZ,) I’ll be swinging by with some peeps down to Cotton’s for another BEAN cause, in efforts to raise funds for Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Fund. I’ve been in contact with a few Stateside friends whose immediately families have miraculously survived, however others have lost distant relatives in this catastrophe. My thoughts and prayers are with each of you!  Those of you in the ‘Hai, come thru for a chill night and great cause!

About:

Everyone is looking for ways to help out Haiti, so come to Cotton’s, listen to some reggae, and ganbei to raise money for the Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Fund. All (100%) of the proceeds will be donated to this initiative and there are going to be truly excessive numbers of raffle prizes up for grabs.

50 RMB minimum donation, raffle tickets are 10 RMB each or 12 for 100 RMB. This has gotta be the easiest way to show your love that we’ve ever heard of.

If you’re hip and with it, do wear blue and red (or even a rasta wig) to show your support. We look forward to seeing you there!  Read more here.

. . don’t burn the day. .

Next Stop… New Zealand!!!

As if living in China for my 2nd year, being lost in translation and slammed with cultural differences is not adventurous enough…

As if sleeping in a hut in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia after hours of horseback riding for my first time was not adventurous enough…

As if camel trekking for my first time and camping out in the Gobi Desert was not adventurous enough…

As if zip-lining through The Great Wall was not adventurous enough…

As if jungle trekking through Taman Negara, Malaysia was not adventurous enough…

As if traveling miles on an overnight sleeper bus was not enough…

As if backpacking through South East Asia on the solo for my first time was not adventurous enough…

I think this year’s mega-trip is gonna be a good contender to all adventures aforementioned, as since I’ll be heading to “THE ADVENTURE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD,” NEW ZEALAND! Whoooo!!

Prior to leaving the States the first time around, I had a hit list of countries on this part of the world (and so far, I’ve done pretty well with just a few more to make complete), but I had also put Australia/New Zealand on the “if I get around/chance to it, it’d be lovely” list… But lookey here now, NZ moves up a few ranks… and I’m not complaining about it one bit!

I’ll be joined by a friend from “It Never Rains in Southern California,” Lundy (meeting up with Stateside friends seems to be a running theme this year with my travels; far cry from last year, when I either trekked solo or with folks here in the ‘Hai) and we’ll be renting a campervan, roadtrippin’ through both South and North Islands for 3 weeks!  (actually 2 for him, 3 for me.) QUITE UBERLY EXCITED!! (Lundy is quite the roll w/the punches-adventure enthusiast, so this trip will be action packed, I’m sure! I just hope I survive it all in one piece!! Ha!)

Who would’ve ever thunk this city gal could do such things?? Now, I’ll get to add: living out of a van to the list! My oh My!  But let’s be serious now, we won’t be living out of the mobile home throughout the entire time…. only for the few pitstops along the way to our final bigger city destinations, where we’ve got a few snazzy ooh la la spots lined up! :-)

So what’s on the itinerary of our own version of Road Rules New Zealand, you may ask? Here be the rough sketch answer:

South Island:

  • Christchurch
  • Mt. Cook / MacKenzie Country / Twizel
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Queenstown / Lake Wakatipu
  • Te Anau
  • Milford Sounds
  • Lake Mahinapua
  • Fox Glaciers
  • Franz Josef Glaciers
  • Hokitika

North Island:

  • Rotorua
  • Auckland
  • Coromandel Peninsula
  • Bay of Islands

Sights / Sounds / Actions:

An island-country known for the set of the Lord of the Rings film, beautious glaciers, lakes, mountains, quaint city dwellings, farmland, campgrounds etc. offers mucho!!!  including: sky diving, bungy jumping, jet boating, kayaking, gondola riding, luge’ing, tramping, cruising, caving, camping, hiking, beaching etc…. Let’s just say there’ll be more than enough to keep our hearts thumping, adrenaline rushing and bodies in motion!…. So take that, Road Rules!!! pshhh!

I’ll try my best to keep ya’ll updated as we trek along, but as always, don’t you fret.. I’ll have my gadgets to give a full report upon my return. :-)

PS. Interesting Factoid:

The travel time/distance between Shanghai-NZ and Cali-NZ is just about the same…and actually slightly better flight deals coming from the States. So those of you stateside who think it’s too far…. umm…. I’m traveling the same amount of hours!! “Being on this side of the world” can be so deceiving!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Drown

SUPER quick read of Junot Diaz’ debut work, Drown. I read this in a day. (Thanks to long ass end-of-semester meetings, conducted all in Mandarin, where I sit with tunes flowing thru my intact earbuds and a book in hand.) :-)

About:

With ten stories that move from the barrios of the Dominican Republic to the struggling urban communities of New Jersey, Junot Diaz makes his remarkable debut. In “Ysrael”, two brothers hunt a disfigured boy who hides behind a mask; in “No Face”, the mirror is flipped and perspective belongs to the tormented. In “Fiesta, 1980″, a spirited family gathering plays against the noiseless hum of a father’s infidelities. In “Boyfriend”, a young man eavesdrops on the woman next door and colors in the life overheard with the drama born of intense longing. And always, it seems there is the throb of waiting: in “Aguantando”, for the fulfillment of a promise; in “Negocios”, for rescue; in “Aurora”, for respite; in “Drown”, for resolution.

My Tops:

  1. - Negocios
  2. - How to Date a Brown Girl, Black Girl, White Girl or Halfie
  3. - Fiesta, 1980
  4. - No Face
  5. - Drown

PS. This book left me hungry for some platanos, empanadas, tamales and ummmm a cuban sandwich!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Happy Birthday Aquarians!

To all of my many fellow Aquarian friends… let us not forget why WE ARE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY…. Happy Birthday!   :-)

and always a goodie… (think: Steve Carell in 40 Year Old Virgin)….

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revalation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

- “Age of the Aquarius” from album, Age of the Aquarius by 5th Dimension (05.1969)

. . don’t burn the day. .

I Fight, I Win!

I’m sure it comes to no suprise when I say these kiddos are not my most favorite bunch, however I’ve somehow muscled my way through and have officially completed Semester 1. Whoo! One down, one more to go!

If ya’ll will recall, I had been barking up a storm about the ridiculous hodgepodge’esque classrooms filled with native speakers sitting alongside those who don’t know basic phonetics to even more issues that I’ve chosen to refrain from sharing, because it’d just be a laundry list of rants…  but all in all,  I’d like to think I’ve done my best to bring all the students to a decent medium — even though, it meant I had to leave a few students behind without the necessary one-on-one attention and/or if  it meant I had to entrust the  patience levels  from those whose English language skills were above mediocre level.  I just had to do what I had to do.  Under EXTREME cases and ONLY under extreme cases, I sent notes home to parents reminding them to GET BOOKS OR AT LEAST MAKE COPIES OF TEXT BOOKS for their kiddos’ use for my class for goodness sake! alerting conduct/studies issues etc… things of which raised a few concerned brows on the Director’s face, but did I care? NOPE! I continued to truck along and DO MY JOB – that is, to edumahcate these lil rugrats – under my watch, under MY rules.

It’s funny, I almost felt the Director’s heart rate skip a beat a few times as since he feared any sort’ve direct communication on my part (though, he may think: confrontation) with the students’ parents. But this, I WELCOME! I am a firm believer in parents being ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS in their childs’ education. Their success growing up as an individual and citizen of global society is influenced by their surroundings  and credited to those around them; FIRST and foremost being their parents.   ( I heart my mom and dad.) And ya know what? Each time I had a direct conversation with a student’s parent, without fail, they thanked me for my CARE, ATTENTION, CONCERN and INVESTMENT in shaping their kid to be a better person: in studies and general, social skills. MMMHMMM! One parent even reached out her arms and gave me a HUG in APPRECIATION!

My philosophy: I don’t yell and I don’t go nuts on the kids (unless in EXTREME cases). I give them ample chances to improve (on whatever it is they need to improve on — especially in this school, where sensitivity levels amongst students/parents/administration is so high) and allow the kids, themselves to ACKNOWLEDGE AND CORRECT their own mistakes (whether academics or behavioral).   I find that at times, teachers/parents don’t give the kids enough credit on knowing what is right and wrong. THEY KNOW.

And while I’m at it…  there’s also  a HUGE difference when some teachers caress (yes, they do that here) and baby/pamper the students when they’ve done wrong. THIS IS A BIG NO NO!!!! THE KIDS ARE NOT BABIES.  They may not know how to drive a car at the moment, but THEY KNOW FUNDAMENTALS OF RIGHT AND WRONG. Don’t give into their babyface BS. THEY KNOW!

  • So let THEM TELL YOU why they are in trouble (instead of wasting your breath and their short attention span). And/or if they truly don’t know, they’ll ask and will be interested in your answer to them.
  • Let them TAKE OWNERSHIP for their actions (by thinking, stating and understanding their mistakes on their own).
  • Let them TAKE INITIATIVE (by solving and suggesting ways to correct their boo boos).
  • These are basic lessons of being a RESPONSIBLE student and kid in the world.

(Insert: PREACH! CAN I GET AN AMEN!?!)

I find that teachers often immediately yell and scream their heads off at the kids for  misbehaving or whatever the case may be, but teachers don’t allow for the students to acknoweldge and take OWNERSHIP for their behavior. But don’t get me wrong, at times, ya need to up the anty a lil bit and go ballistic on these kids to drive home your message.. (while you internally delight in the fact that the kid could sh*t his pants in any second)…. That’s when you know you’ve done your job well. :-)

Which brings me to the point of why I initially started this post. I’ve battled quite a bit this year at this school. One major battle was to get the administration to conduct an assessment placement test to properly divide the students in appropriately level’ed off classrooms, thereby optimizing teacher resources, TIME and adding VALUE to the education of these boogers and their parents’ paid tuition fees.

PRO: I’m happy to say, we are implementing an Assessment Placement Test for my 1st graders at the start of 2nd semester!! A WIN for me!!

CON: More work for me, as since I am the one leading, training and curating this placement testing endeavor. (sigh, how/why do I get myself into these situations many times over??)

PRO: Planning/teaching will be much easier. Classrooms will be less of romper room (at least my class, especially if I get the “advanced” kiddos, while the other kids will learn through basic games etc… which is what they neeeeeeeed.)  Students will be more attentive and learn at their capable level with alike peers, thereby gaining an actual education in a relatively competive learning environment.

CON: The Director is STILL overly concerned with parents. Now, I’m not saying to disregard parents’  concerns/comments, however, he truly only REACTS to issues versus taking charge of how to run HIS division. Little does he know that parents have reached out to me personally via email/in person to discuss matters of the different level/best education for their kids. And IIII am the one who is feeding them the necessities behind proper level/course material for the students, and it is the parents who have told me that THEY AGREE with me and will “adamantly suggest” to the Director, the advent of proper placements.

PRO: In actuality, the Director has no idea that I am the one feeding info to the parents who, in turn, are telling HIM what to do. Mwahahahhahahahaha (clasping my hands)

Oh, Hello Mr. Burns!! :-) ……

So there ya go. Fight and Win. That’s how I do! :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

I Saw …. Jackie Chan!!!

So my homette, K is on production team  (shout out to FLY Films) for Shanghai’s David Letterman equivalent show called, Asia Uncut with John Niermann. Fun stuff as it reminds me of my times in media… but anyhoots, I was invited to check and support the first taping of the show back in early December, featuring Hong Kong (ahem. cough. scandalous. cough. ahem.) Edison Chen along with: Sopranos/Entourage’s Jamie-Lynn Sigler, and Bali’wood actress and model, Mandira Bedi.  GOOD SHOW and my interest was SURPRISINGLY peaked by Edison’s smooth swagger. MmmHmm……  I am still in wonderment….. over how/why… but the boy has SOMETHIN’ going on for him…

But anyhoots, the show has been doing tremendously well and K has been doing awesome with the bookings. Though I missed out on Edward Norton, my claim to fame with that is that, had I not been the one to wake up at 8am when the messenger rang K’s door to pick up a landing package for Ed, which included a cell phone, Ed would’ve been cellphone-less. (We gals had a movie sleepover night and errrbody was passsed out…and I braved the getting up and opening door episode….)

So next up is Jackie Chan. Yeah I know who he is. Who doesn’t? But, I really was not THAT excited when I first heard. And really, I’m not one to get all super star struck by ANY MEANS — with the exception of the time, I ran into GEORGE CLOONEY and his father, taping a movie around the corner from my jobby job down in Tribeca, back in ’04ish. Whewww! George is truly HANDSOME in person! — OK, back to topic: So it didn’t really matter to me whether or not I was gonna attend the Jackie taping or not, till the very day of, when my other homette, WH hit me on email and asked me if I wanted to roll with her to the taping that night. I shrugged and said, sure, why not.

Evening: We rolled to the studio, having NO idea of who any other guests were to be on the show or anything…. but turns out… Jackie ended up co-hosting the entire show, as part of his promotions for upcoming flick, Little Big Soldier. Upon entrance and throughout the entire taping, I found myself completely engaged in the show and of course, Jackie. WHAT A NATURALLY CHARISMATIC, HILARIOUS and NICEEEEE GUY!!!  Sharing anecdotes from his stardom-beginning stages of being completely stars-struck when amongst the likes of John Travolta, Tom Hanks, Quincy Jones etc… to paying forward and giving chances to those looking for their big break in the current day, I am a hands down, complete FAN OF JACKIE CHAN!! That taping put me in such a happy mood for the rest of the week. Not to mention, his other guests were rising stars, Leehom Wong and Stephen Yoo – both given a chance of a lifetime to be trained and given the opportunity to co-star with the mega-star, Jackie Chan himself. Not only that, Jackie is a pure environmentalist; preaching to the cast on the 1st day of filming to care for their natural surroundings and all litter must be picked up before the call for the end of the shoot…..andddddd he’s musically inclined! Came busting out with James Brown foot moves to the live jazz band! So Cute!

UNFORTUNATELY, I did not have my camera with me that evening. (Made me realized how less of a photographer I’ve been as since it’s my sophomore year here… ho hum.)  HOWEVER, ya’ll can keep your eye out for the episode online at AsiaUncut.com or Sundays at 10pm on the Star World Channel.

And to compensate for my lack of camera footage, I’ll grace ya’ll with a photo taken last year when some fam’a'lam paid a visit to me in late November ’09. Here’s Cinderz and I standing with a (random) wax figure of the man, Jackie Chan, as we made our way up to the Jin Mao Tower Observatory. Backstory:  While we were extremely reluctant then, (C’s mom/my sister was adamant about us getting a picture with the wax figure), but nowwwww,  I am extremely happy that we did! LOL

Ta Da!…..

And here’s my sis (aka my #1 blog fan) and bro-in-law; Both received “Great Tourist/Vacationer” Awards from me during their time out here in the Wild Wild Far East… :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Oscar Wao is Oscar Wow

A fantastically written book by Pulizer Prize winner, Junot Diaz. His colloquial ala “yo, so check it” writing style as if you were hanging at an outdoor cafe for story hour with Mr. Diaz, pulls you in immediately and opens your ears to a tale of:  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I love Diaz’s writing!

About:

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku — the curse that has haunted the Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim….

Pick it up! Pick it up! Pick it up!

I also got a hold of Diaz’s first book, Drown – a collection of stories.  Stay tuned to hear what I have to say about this one! :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

I Saw White People….!

Hehehehe.. (sorry if I’ve offended folks…. but ya’ll know – of all people – I’m am the MOST equal of equal opportunists… , so just chilllll!!  :-) )

Anyhoots, here’s the rest of the sentence….

I Saw White People…. (LOADS of them) in Best Buy today!

Now, if ya’ll will recall with me – at approximately just about a year ago, I had written a post on my experiences at BB, entitled “Flippin’ the Foreigner Face Card.” My then entry provided you the “day in the life of a foreigner” in different shades here in Shanghai… pros/cons.. battles won/battles lost etc. by those who are:

a) ABC and look Chinese

b) ABC and don’t look Chinese

c) caucasian/white

(*You can guess which one is me. If ya’ll need a refresher on what I’m referring to, I highly suggest you click on the hyperlink above for a rather insightful -and comical- post.)

But TOOOOOODAYYYYYYYY, I hit up BB and upon entrance, I get the usual “Welcome” greeting in Mandarin (which sounds like them saying “good morning!”– this threw me off immensely when I had first landed in the ‘Hai.)… but one thing that jumped out at me, was a whollllle bunch of white faces in suits and polo shirts, with clipboards and charts in hand, stern looks etc. in small crowds with BB associates at various points throughout the 5-floor store; there were also wayyy more service attendants walking around the floor than usual; and I noticed that the majority of them now all have the dandy yellow name tag that reads, “I Speak English.”  Welllll I’ll be darned!  BB was being audited right in front of my eyes and ears!! Upon my browsing, I even overheard a foreign auditor demonstratively say to a local employee, “The set up looks great! It should be like this everyday… …EVERY—DAY!” Of course, the local employee smiled/nodded and replied, “Yes, it is my responsibility to oversee this area.”

Soooooo many thoughts!! In random order:

- Pshhhhh! All this corporate’ness.

- “West is Best” attitude was totally inferred…almost too pompously.

- The changes in this city’s operations in its overhaul preparation to host the 2010 World Expo: Taxis have stickers with a free call center number for those who are having trouble communicating to taxi drivers with their desired designation; this call center provides free translation services; when you call, you are prompted: “press 1 for German, press 2 for English” (at least that’s what it was when I used it once wayyy back last year)

- Mandatory security bag scans have returned in metro stations

- Now BB and western stores are feeling the smack down…

…..Let’s just see if this holds up……

. . don’t burn the day. .

Goodbye Google??!?!

:( :( :(

I will cry if this happens…

Per CNN,

Google said Tuesday the company and at least 20 others were victims of a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” originating in China in mid-December, evidently to gain access to the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

“Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective,” according to a statement by David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer for Google, operator of the most popular Internet search engine.

Drummond said that as a result of the attacks, Google has decided it is no longer willing to consider censorship of its Google site in China and may have to shut down its site and its offices in that nation.

Read more about Google v. PRC here.

I mean, within the 2years I’ve been out here,  they’ve permanently forbidden utube, blogs, twitter (Spring ’09) and FB (Summer ’09). Apparently the PRC had shut down the google site for one day in August ’09 (when I wasn’t here) for some other censorship blah blah blah issue…. so there is a possibility in this happening… esp since the PRC only generates 2% of G’s revenue; G is only used by 20% of population here… with Baidu.com being their #1 search engine. LE SIGHHHHHHHHHHH.

This will suck for many expats for sure!! Email and all…. I mean, why can’t we all just get along?!!? So I guess I better open up another account elsewhere and initialize the forwarding feature for contingency. I feel like I’m cheating on my gmail account … :-(

Feel free to shout out some alternate account recommendations that will match gmail’s features … :-(

(On the flip side…. as per my friend Eric said to me today… “but think of the stories you can tell…when I was in the ‘Hai, I had to _____________  to use email!”…. Umm, thanks E, but I’m pretty certain this can be a story I can do without, bc mi corazon is with the G 4 eva! :( )

. . don’t burn the day. .

On Defining Life Fulfillment…

As I skimmed through all my FB status ramblings and links n’ things, this particular link with the aforementioned title caught my eye…. and I hope it caught yours too….

This title/link was posted by a dear friend o’ mine, Phil, who had been interviewed by a cool lil’ webshow called, Capture Your Flag. Based on the premises of:  “Cultivating Passion. Mapping Purpose. Finding Fulfillment. Empowering You.,” Capture Your Flag’s host, Eric delved into the “becoming” of Media and Publishing Entrepreneur (and my good bud,) Phil McKenzie.

But before the clip, let’s do a lil’ background check ….

As Phil and I caught up and chit chatted the other evening (thank you technology for closing global gaps), we reminisced and realized that our friendship is 4 yrs strong.. (like whoa! crazy talk!) Where we both were in our lives, 4 years ago seems like an entirely whole other  lifetime… (and almost two)… In short, our fateful meeting at a P. Diddy showcase event that neither one of us wanted to be present at, but were forced to attend for one reason or another because of our work (ironically, neither of us are still involved in,  but at that moment, the whole world seemed to had weighted on our positions, go figure…)…. brought forth a story of boredom at a showcase to a pretty dandy friendship!

As many of you know (especially as fans of this blog, and thereby moi), I pride myself in those that I keep around me. My family is legit (duh, as I am firsthand indication as offspring) …and my friends are on point. Having various pools of ambitiously creative and driven friends around me, allow for amazing bonds, built on mutual respect, admiration, faith and support.

From his time growing up in Brooklyn and attending Brooklyn Tech to Howard University, to obtaining his MBA from Duke’s Fuqua Business school… to grinding it out on the trading floor of Goldman Sachs…only to eventually leave it to be involved in his passion for the Arts and Philanthropy sects….and now, a Media & Pub Entrepreneur… (phew!)… Phil shares his thought-provoking insight via his tale of twists and turns and lessons learned from all of his experiences, in an effort to cutting out the noise and defining his own freedom and life fulfillment.

Check out the clips below and his lifestyle e-zine, fittingly titled, FREE.   Enjoy!!

PS. Kudos Phinz! :-)

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

. . don’t burn the day. .