China Team Journal

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, July 9

By Carole

Thought For the Day: After the game, the king and the pawn go back into the same box. Italian Proverb

Photo for the day: The Dumpling Team with their hosts

Only two days of classes left. All good things must come to an end. Still, now it seems our end is coming too abruptly.

What are some of the expected joys I found here in China? First off, I think about our students. In this I can only speak directly of the students of Josh and mine. Our students were enthusiastic, fun, bright, cooperative and fairly proficient in English. It has honestly been fun working with them. It has not been so much a teacher- student situation but more a team approach to the classes. They have been anxious both to share their culture and life stories with us and also to hear about what life is like for an American.

Having lived in big cities in America, I’m afraid I have become cynical. When a stranger approaches me on the street, my first reaction is caution that perhaps they want to beg something from me. I’ve learned to walk down the street, taking everything in but appearing to not look at anyone. To be that way here is a grand mistake. More often than not, we receive smiles and friendly gestures on the streets in China. It’s not unusual for children, adults and old people to approach us for the simple purpose of sharing a brief conversation in English.

Every time I’ve been on a crowded bus here, someone has jumped up to offer me their seat. Such simple courtesies have been a delight.

Another true pleasure has been the Chinese massages. One night we received a pedicure, which in fact, was a foot and leg massage. Lasting for 70 minutes it cost about $10. I thought nothing could be more luxurious, but found that idea contradicted the next day. Josh and I were treated by our students to lunch at a restaurant. You won’t believe it! A massage was included with the meal. For about 15 minutes while we waited for our food, a waitress gave each of us a back massage.

A benefit of this trip has been the cultural talks which Hu Di gives us each day. Today’s theme was politics in China. It went like this.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the founding and ruling party in China and the world’s biggest political party. Its paramount position as the supreme political authority in China is guaranteed by "Constitution of the People's Republic of China" China's constitution and realized through control of all state apparatus. The CPC has both central and local organizations. At the top is the Central Committee and, while when it is not in session, the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee exercise the power of the Central Committee. Both the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee are elected by the plenary session of the Central Committee.

The CPC is a unified entity organized according to its program, constitution and the principle of democratic centralism. The Constitution of the Communist Party of China stipulates that any Chinese worker, farmer, member of the armed forces, intellectual and any advanced element of other social strata who has reached the age of 18 and who accepts the program and constitution of the CPC and is willing to join and work in one of the Party organizations, carry out the Party's decisions and pay membership dues regularly may apply for membership in the CPC. The party's 70 million members constitute 5.5% of the total population of China.

The CPPCC is an organization of the patriotic united front of the Chinese people. It is an important organization of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC.

The organization consists of both Party members and non-Party members, who discuss Chinese communism's principles. The members are chosen by the Communist Party of China, but are from a somewhat broader range of people than normally chosen for government office. It is composed of the CPC, other political parties, mass organizations, different ethnic groups and representative public personages from all walks of life, representatives of compatriots of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as well as of returned overseas Chinese and other specially invited people.

Other parties: China Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang, China Democratic League, China Democratic National Construction Association, China Association for the Promotion of Democracy, Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party, China Zhi Gong Dang, Jiusan Society, Taiwan Democratic Self-government League, Public personages without party affiliation, Communist League of China, All-China Federation of Trade Unions, All-China Federation of Women, All-China Federation of Youth, All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, China Association of Science and Technology, All-China Friendship Federation of Taiwan Compatriots, All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese,

The CPPCC typically holds a yearly meeting at the same time as plenary sessions of the National People's Congress (NCP). Both CPPCC and NPC are often called the Lianghui (Two Meetings), making important national level political decisions. In March, the First Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body, just took place and lasted 11 days.

The National People's Congress, abbreviated NPC, is the highest state body and only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. Although the membership of the NPC is still largely determined by the Communist Party of China, since the early 1990s it has moved away from its previous role as a symbolic but powerless rubber-stamp legislature, and has become a forum for mediating policy differences between different parts of the Party and the government. For the NPC to formally defeat a proposal put before them is a rare, but not non-existent event, and the NPC has been quite active in being the forum in which legislation is debated before being put to a vote.

The National People's Congress is held in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China. NCP is held each year along with the People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) whose members are from a broader background.

The day ended with a visit to an administrator’s condominium apartment The apartment itself has about 1600 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a large family room, and two balconies and is beautifully decorated in a modern style. Condominiums go for about $100,000, with a monthly maintenance fee of $20. Because of lack of housing in the city of Kunming, a decision was made to build up a “new” city in the outskirts. In the last 3 years 100,000 apartments have been constructed in buildings of about 20 floors each. There appears to have been much planning since there are also parks, shopping centers, underground parking, schools, playgrounds, flowers, trees, etc.

It was in the apartment where we practiced making dumplings and spring rolls. I learned that the dipping sauce can include vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, cilantro and garlic. We may not be masters at preparing Chinese food, but we have greatly improved our techniques in the use of chopsticks.

We’re all looking forward to our final day tomorrow where teachers and students will surprise each other with special activities for the closing ceremony.