Sunday, May 29, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Many of us foreign teachers have noticed that our female students tend to tease each other about being fat. In America it is super rude and impolite to call your friends fat, so I've been wondering what do Chinese women think about the word fat since they use it with their friends? In China does the fat teasing hurt women's self-esteem and body image and if so in what ways?
Ultimately I am trying to answer the questions: Is there a cultural difference surrounding the word fat between the west and China such that we are reacting to it and using it differently? Or are we all regardless of culture subconsciously reacting to the word fat the same way?
I interviewed 33 female freshmen and sophomore English majors, ages ranging from 19-21.
Question 1: Is it impolite or polite to jokingly call your close, good friends fat? Why?
50 % said, "It is impolite."
50 % said, "It is polite."
· Not many girls like being called fat.
· People will feel embarrassed.
· People should use the word strong, not fat.
· It is a natural body and such bodies shouldn't be criticized.
· It is unfriendly.
· It will make people feel angry.
· It causes people to have no confidence to live anymore.
· When it is with your close friend, they know each other and have a good understanding.
· Playing jokes with friends is okay and it is important to tell the truth to friends.
· It creates a happy atmosphere.
· It creates a friendly kind atmosphere that is honest with true things.
· Friendly joking is okay.
· With your friends, they won't be angry.
Question 2: How do women feel when they are jokingly called fat by their friends?
They feel healthy and strong. Suitable fat is good. They feel that they have enough power to do what they want. They feel healthy. They don't care because it is between close friends. They feel that their friends care about them because they are urging them to change and lose weight. They don't mind because everyone has their own styles.
They feel shy, disappointed, embarrassed, angry, very terrible, sad, and feel like they must lose weight to avoid jokes.
Question 3: Do you want to go on a diet?
Question 4: When you are alone in a room looking into a mirror, what is your personal opinion about yourself, do you think you are beautiful? Why? (Ignore China's culture of being modest. Don't think nali nali. Don't think about your friends' and family's opinions.)
52 % Felt they were beautiful
48 % Did not feel that they were beautiful
I am beautiful because I'm an outgoing girl who has many friends. I have long hair and am confident. I have a quiet personality and am shy. I am unique and am comfortable with myself.
I am not beautiful because my brother says that I am ugly. My parents say that I am fat. I am too fat and short. My eyes are too small. My skin is too black. I have bad behaviors. I have no confidence. I am too thin. I don't have any special clothes, looks, or characteristics. I am a common girl.
Question 5: Other than being teased about being fat, what other things do friends joke about?
Friends joke about everything from clothes, hairstyles, body, teeth, height, eyes to whether or not I have a boyfriend, how many children I'll have, and what my future career will be.
Discussion and Conclusion: After talking with 33 Chinese women about beauty and fat, I feel like women in the west and women in China are both struggling with their body images. Very few of my female students said that they weren't beautiful because they were fat, yet a majority of them wanted to go on a diet. In America, the diet culture is huge. The word fat in both cultures have a negative connotation and is considered to be rude except amongst my students where half believe it is rude and the other half believe it is friendly if the word fat is jokingly used amongst their close friends. In terms of beauty, my female students are concerned about their small eyes, short heights, and black skin. American women are also concerned about their bodies but just with different parts.
In conclusion, the word fat is used differently in American and Chinese culture where in America we rarely use the word fat to joke with our friends; whereas, in China amongst best friends it is okay. In both cultures, as women struggle with their own body images the word fat is most likely subconsciously affecting both American and Chinese women in similar ways.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Monday, May 09, 2011
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Saturday, May 07, 2011
- Brushes are cheap. The shops say, "Throw away the brushes." We don't have cleaning supplies to clean the paint off the brushes nor special soap to get the paint off your hands.
- The paint shops had no shallow flat pans for the rollers. They suggested just dunk the rollers into the buckets coz the buckets are big enough. Imagine that! Dunking rollers into paint and then dripping it along the floor to the place you want to paint. MESS!!!!
- We can't find a tall ladder for you. Here is a step stool or pile up classroom desks to paint. Pile up desks? Oh my gosh! The compromise I could find was to use the step stool to climb up on a metal bookshelf to paint the walls near the ceiling.
- Paint over the cracked and moldy old paint.
Community Center. Before old campus even moved to new campus, leaders
made a guarantee that the Tree House would also move and move it did.
While I was at COS conference, my sitemate, the Tree House volunteers,
and the students of the English department moved all the furniture and
all the books into a full size classroom on the first floor of the
School of Foreign Languages. The President of the university came to
visit and said, "Write up a furniture budget and make the Tree House a
comfortable place with a western style."
We wrote up a 10,000 RMB (1,500 USD) proposed furniture and paint
budget where a couch was the most expensive item 4,000 RMB. 10,000
RMB is a lot of money in China. I only get as a PCV about 16,800 RMB
(2,500 USD) per YEAR so 10,000 is a HUGE chunk of money. We also
submitted a proposed cheaper budget of 3,000 RMB itemizing all the
same but lower quality furniture. Surprisingly on Thursday the Tree
House was granted 10,000 RMB and the leaders wanted it all ready by
I have become a Job Site Supervisor, not only dealing with writing
budgets, dealing with leaders, having meetings with different
departments, meeting deadlines, buying materials all over town via
bus, bike, and taxi but also supervising student volunteers who want
to help as well as doing the work myself. In two days, the department
wanted the Tree House painted so we could move in the new furniture.
When it takes 4 hours to purchase paint because we are traveling by
bike, bus, foot, and taxi, a paint job is not an easy task especially
in China where there are language barriers and different standards and
ways of doing things.
The year between graduation and shipping off for Peace Corps Africa, I
spent a couple of months doing odd jobs working with my dad. He
remodels houses and builds duplexes, a hobby during retirement. I
also worked as a temp worker on different construction sites getting
up at 3:30 am to make it to the temp agency to stand in line with a
bunch of men for the daily jobs. I like working with my body and
hands. I like the fatigue of a full day of physical labor. I do not
like the combination of physical and mental stress.
Supervisors and job site managers in construction often talk about how
difficult it is to find good workers. They love me because I do a
good job without having to be told what to do and during the temp work
I got a taste of what it feels like to be a manager. My boss would
leave me in charge of the other temp workers. That was a challenge
because the other temp workers didn't like their work nor did they
want to be there. Their philosophy was work as slow as possible so
that there would be a job tomorrow. I decided even though I like
construction labor, supervising wasn't really for me; however, because
of my work ethic and ability to lead I naturally get placed into
supervising positions. If I worked in construction, it would be
difficult to escape such responsibilities.
In Peace Corps especially Peace Corps China it never occurred to me
that I would be supervising a paint job and have to make decisions
about how to paint. Currently the room's walls are full of peeling
paint and water damage. To do a quality job, we would need to scrape
the old paint off, sand the walls and re-plaster the areas with mold
and water damage; however, the leaders say that there is no time.
Just paint over it. My sitemate and I shake our heads in disbelief
and remark, "In China buildings are built in a day and torn down the
next to build a new one." Our philosophies are just different and we
must put aside our western ways of thinking to do the job the Chinese
way. The leaders did say that in two years, they will repaint the
Tree House properly.
Not only is the paint job too big for just two people it needs to be
done in two days; therefore, my sitemate and I needed to supervise a
team of volunteers. Painting can be extremely messy. Good painters
leave no mess. Inexperienced student workers umm… put too much paint
on the brushes and rollers, leave massive puddles and drip marks
everywhere. They put down wet brushes in the dirt, on newly painted
shelves and other furniture. They wear new looking clothes.
Yesterday was the first day on the job site and I was a bad
supervisor. I hate being a micro manager, but with inexperienced
helpers I have to become a better teacher. Instead of assuming and
expecting good work, I have to teach those skills. Hopefully I will
learn how to be a better supervisor and the students will learn how to
be neater painters.
Today we finished painting the bookshelves black and the walls green.
It looks fantastic! I am proud to say I was a much better supervisor.
Before anyone started painting I made three rules: 1. Do not make a
mess. 2. Do not put too much paint on the brush. 3. If you see wet
paint NOT on the walls, clean it up. This time instead of actually
doing the work, I just walked around helping people, telling them what
to do and shouting, "Mess," which would have a student come running to
clean up the wet paint.
My sitemate went to buy furniture with a 5 person delegation from the
English department. It took them a long time because everything had
to be bargained for. Funny- getting quotes, then writing a budget and
then bargaining? Not sure how all that works.
Tomorrow morning the books will be moved to the newly painted
bookshelves and the furniture will arrive. Next things for the Tree
House to plan? An opening ceremony, an American wedding, game night,
yearbook and photo club, teacher night, a broadcast, and activities
for different departments when they come to visit.
This blog is dedicated to my DAD who has helped me become the
construction worker I am today resulting in the success of leading
along with my sitemate our first construction project whose volunteer
workers from six different departments were also amazing!