Viewing entries tagged
travel

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Teacher Tuesday: The Last Day

This year was a long one, but many of the awesome AYC participants have finished out their academic year! The above collage only showcases a few of the 150+ teachers spread throughout China with their students. Many have already left for their next journey, others are teaching farther into the summer, but one thing remains true: AYC is immensely proud of it’s inaugural class of Ameson Year in China!

Salute — the AYC Class of 2013-2014!

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Fact Friday: And Your Name Is?

Have you ever mused over the possible deep meaning of the choice English names your students chose? Have you ever wondered why your Chinese name sounds really strange when translated into English? Well below is an introduction to some of the more interesting naming practices. 

  1. How many names?: Historically, socially enfranchised individuals could have different names at different stages of their life and stylized versions of them for different uses. Sun Yat-Sen, the founding father of the Chinese Republic, had eight, not including a large number of pseudonyms used while in hiding.
  2. 1, 2, or 3?: In traditional China there was a strong emphasis on having as many children as possible. This led to some pretty large numbers of children that could sometimes be hard to keep track of. Enter the numbers. Using a number after a name indicates the individual’s position in line; in the case of Su Forty-Three, a famous rebel in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) who seems to be pretty far down the list. A common usage today is referring to oneself relative to one’s brothers and sisters. The third child in a family would be called “old three.”
  3. You want me to be what?: In China, names express a parents desire for a child or describe characteristics the child may have. In rural settings, embarrassing physical features or associations are common. If a child doesn’t turn out just as the parents wanted, they may keep the name they planned on anyway. A tragic young male character in “The World” by director Jia Zhangke goes by the name “Maiden Number Two” because his parents had hoped that their second child would be a girl.

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Things You'd Know: The Heihe - Tongcheng Line

Proposed in 1934 by geographer Hu Huanyong, the Heihe-Tengchong line is not China’s newest highspeed rail line, but an interesting artifact of human geography. This line divides China roughly into two halves  in terms of geographic area (57% to the West, 43% to the East), but nearly all the population - a whopping 94% - resides to the East of the line. 
Impressive though these numbers may be, what’s perhaps more impressive is that despite having a population density lower than all but 27 countries, the western half of China would still be the 16th largest country in the world by population, just below Germany. 

As you can see from the map, China’s population density is highly concentrated between the Yellow River (黄河) to the north and the Yang-tze River (长江)to the Souh, as well as along the coast. The large red spot just east of the line represents a very fertile agricultural area sometimes referred to as “China’s breadbasket” and includes the megacities Chengdu and Chongqing.  Most of China’s West is arid, high up in the mountains, or both, making it difficult to sustain dense populations.

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Fact Friday: The Old Hundred Names

If your Chinese is at a moderate level, there’s a good chance you’ll have learned the word 老百姓 (lit. “old hundred names” or “the common people”). What you may not have learned is that the word has completely flipped in meaning over the last hundred years. Throughout most of Chinese history, common people did not have surnames. Surnames (姓) were reserved only for the aristocracy, and the “hundred” (百) was a way of referring to all of the various family lines as a unit. Thus, 百姓 refers to the nobility, not the common people. However with the end of the feudal system, the universalization of surnames, and progressive social atmosphere brought by the communist revolution, the term took a 老 (“old”, which to this learner seems to add both respect and familiarity) and began to refer to “the people” as a whole.

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A look at Huangshan

Visit Huanghshan with AYC in 90 seconds! The video of AYC'ers on Mt. Huangshan features photography by AYC’s own Fred Bane, and takes viewers from sunset to sunrise in the mountain region. Discover one of the beautiful wonders of China with participants! 

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Fact Friday: What to know about Chinese license plates!

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There’s a lot you can tell about a car by its license plate. In general, the character represents the province where the car is registered, while the first letter represents the city of registration. Many abbreviations are straightforward, others represent historical toponyms (湘 for Hunan, 粤 for Guangdong, etc.). The provincial capital is always A, with the second largest city as B, and so on. A high proportion of cars with A 00 after their province character are black Audi A6s with tinted windows, the car of choice for high up officials.  License plates with red characters at the beginning denote cars belonging to the armed forces: WJ is for the military police, 空 is for the airforce, 海 is for the navy, and other characters represent specific army bases. Police cars have a red 警 after them.

The Chinese and the Americans aren’t so different: just like in the US, you can get vanity plates. Lucky numbers 8, 6, and 9 are popular, especially in strings. Some people also go the dirtbag route and get the number 250 on their plates, a Chinese insult implying lesser mental capabilities.

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20 countries and 5 continents during their Spring Festival

This year AYC participants visited almost 20 countries and 5 continents during their Spring Festival vacation. Spring Festival is a celebration of the Chinese New Year where students and teachers get anywhere from 2 weeks - 2 months vacation time to celebrate the New Year, and the participants this year used that time for travel!

This year AYC participants visited almost 20 countries and 5 continents during their Spring Festival vacation. Spring Festival is a celebration of the Chinese New Year where students and teachers get anywhere from 2 weeks - 2 months vacation time to celebrate the New Year, and the participants this year used that time for travel!

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