Saturday, October 04, 2003


Nice full day today: Chinese class in the morning was OK, but lots of homework for this weekend. Spent an hour in the Fishbowl doing research for my PS 691 essay topic, then off to Lieberthal's brown bag lunch. I caught him at the end with a question: what are your sources? Generally, he said he prefers to read the Chinese press because stuff gets lost in translation, but he also spends a lot of time talking with Chinese officials and people of influence. My language exchange partners said that Lieberthal (Li Kairu) is pretty well-known in China, at least in the government. I drew the conclusions that direct conversation and interviews are a vastly underrated source of information, and that I really need to learn Chinese so I can read the news in the original language, not in its New York Times reincarnation. One blessing that being a grad student afford me is access to the FBIS, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a service by the US government that translates the text of daily broadcasts, government statements, and select news stories from non-English sources around the world. Unfortunately, copyright issues forbid me from posting excerpts from the articles. (some government sites are scary.)

After lunch, finished up my paper topic proposal and turned it in, then met with Helena and our language partners, GWD and LXM, two government officials from Western China who are here studying administration. Topics ranged from the structure of provincial government in China, to how American students find a job after college, to the dangers of credit card debt.

I spent pretty much the rest of the day chatting with Helena. When language time finished, we outwaited the rain inside the Social Work Building, then hopped over to the Coffee Beanery for hot apple cider. When 7 PM was approaching, I took off to Access, which is starting a series of classes on different topics: I decided on the systematic theology class, which went over bibliology today. Unfortunately I didn't get to ask the questions I had. Basically, I have problems with fanatical and totalitarian insistence on the inerrancy of the Bible.

After Access, I flew back to the State Theater for the 9:45 showing of American Splendor. People were supposed to show up, but only it ended up being only Helena and me. That's OK! We went out to Starbucks afterwards for hot chocolate, and talked till very late at night. Helena is a charming girl, with some fascinating things to say. She has experience in the few things I can talk semi-authoritatively about (China, teaching), so it was a great conversation.

Now, time for an episode of Meteor Garden and off to bed. Gotta get up and pack lunches tomorrow morning!


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