Sunday, May 16, 2010

Changsha, China

Changsha, about half way between Shanghai and Hong Kong, is the capital of Hunan Province with a rich ancient history dating back about 1000 BC. The population of the city proper is about 1.5 million, but the sprawling urban area contains over 6 million. During our time there, I noted that there was no pollution due to almost constant rain and misty drizzle that fell every day. The sun shown very briefly when we landed, then never was it seen again until we ascended out of the clouds on our way back to Beijing, four days later.

The Great Navigator, Chairman Mao was educated here and worked briefly as a teacher. As a young man he gave speeches here and recruited members for the Communist Party. A 23-foot-high statue of Mao in the city square has recently been re-covered in pure gold.

It is regarded as a place of learning, with three major universities, a number of technical institutes, hospitals, medical schools and fireworks factories. The city has attracted skilled workers and it is regarded as something of media, Internet and cultural center for China. Much of the nations animation and television programming is based in Changsha.

The AIDS prevention workshop was presented to English speaking university students at a university auditorium. Although able to understand English and speak it to some degree, translation was offered in Chinese for the presenters that spoke English. This seems an appropriate place to segue to a fact that should raise an eyebrow or two. By the year 2016, it is projected that China will be the largest English speaking country in the world!

I have no desire at my age to attempt to learn to speak Chinese, but some have told me that because the language has no verb tenses and nouns have no gender, it is not hard to learn. But one must be able to master inflections and where to place the emphasis on a word because a word has many different meanings depending on how it is said.

We are often amused by Chingalese signs (signs written in English) that have improper meanings to words or badly misspelled. I can only guess that the signs were made by people that thought they knew what they were doing, but never asked anyone that actually was fluent in English to proof read it.

We were housed in a complex that was built for government officials 30 or 40 years ago. We refer to such places as Stalin Hotels. This one was much better than some we have stayed in and the landscaping was outstanding.

This photo also shows what the weather was like during most of our stay except when it was actually raining. We were given a huge suite of two rooms that would be called the “Presidential Suite” in the states. But we only used the bedroom due to the reak of Chinese tobacco in the main room. The bedroom was not as bad.

We didn’t have much time for tourism on this trip but we were taken to Yuelu Academy that was founded in 976 AD and many photographic opportunities were presented. The academy was named Hunan Univeristy in 1926 and it has been preserved to show the ancient culture.

Here are a few of the photos I took.

At the workshop, Judith asked that Mark from Chicago’s Howard Brown Clinic for Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender people (and any other sexual life style variation), to speak about the work done there to protect people from sexually transmitted diseases. Among other things, they offer free HIV testing and counseling.

He was very entertaining and the Chinese for most interested in what he had to say. They asked many questions. Later at the close of the workshop and at the final dinner banquet, Mark got into a drinking contest with the host.

Mark is in the stripped shirt. Mark won the contest, but we suggested to him afterwards that he should have stopped long before and ceded the contest to the host (seen on the left). I have been the subject of these contests before, but I have learned to avoid them. I mean what is the point?


Charles said...

hi there,
I appreciate for your sentence"China will be the largest English speaking country in the world! China will be the largest English speaking country in the world!". Actually I realize it when I was appointed for China Holiday trip, I was upset due to chines language. Then I immediately join chinesesphere chines language academy for Learn to speak chines language.

GETkristiLOVE said...

It is true what you said about the language. Only the verbs are easy, everything else about it is hard. Dave is being sent to China next month, not sure exactly where yet. He is trying to stall so that I can go with him.

Nice Mao pose Judith.