Articles in rebecca persons’ travel blog
Flautist Carole Bean didn’t anticipate anything out of the ordinary when she learned that she would be traveling to Xi’an, China to perform with the American National Symphony Orchestra. But soon after the concert on June 14, she realized that the Washington DC-based symphony’s role in bringing classical music to the Chinese people had made her and her colleagues cultural ambassadors.
“I think it’s good that it was the NSO that came,” said Bean. “We represent the nation’s capital, and it opens up [Sino-U.S.] relations more.”
The choice of Xi’an as a venue was also important. An ancient capital that is now a modern city, Xi’an values its relics and monuments and with a reason. The city received a big boost in 1974 after local farmers discovered numerous terracotta statues. . . .
When Chinese citizen Karen Dang took a job as an office assistant at Learn First, an English conversation school in central Beijing, her goal was to parley her impeccable language skills into a teaching position. This past May, however, she quit when she says she realized the school’s unwritten policy of hiring only Caucasian foreigners as instructors would prevent her from ever getting the job she really wanted.
In talking about her experience, Dang expressed polite disappointment: “They didn’t offer me a better future,” she said.” [And] I’m a good worker.”
At the same time, Dang’s experience reflects the complaints of a growing number of young Chinese speakers of English who claim they are denied job opportunities in Beijing’s burgeoning foreign-language teaching market. The bruised feelings are understandable. A foreign English teacher can make as much as USD 30 an hour. Chinese teachers aren’t likely to make nearly as much but they would still like the opportunity. . . .
Imagine a swimming pool filled with snakes gliding through the water, suddenly shocked by an electric jolt that contorts their bodies. This is how Beijing hip-hop instructor, Hero Cheng, describes the Korean-style street dancing that he teaches in Beijing.
Cheng’s former instructor actually placed snakes in a pool and zapped them to inspire new dance moves. Along with the Los Angeles styles of street dance, Cheng’s method is the prime influence shaping the street and hip-hop dance scene in China today. . . .