Thursday, March 24, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
In China I have had several conversations with male leaders telling me that I should get married soon. I can't tell if this topic of conversation is socially accepted small talk or is a type of patriarchy of father knows best; however, it does reflect Chinese values where a woman's social position is directly related to her marriage status. With my female teacher colleagues, I have not felt the pressure to find a husband nor is marriage or finding a boyfriend a typical topic of conversation. My curious students who have few unmarried female role models often ask, "When are you getting married or why aren't you married? Don't you want children?"
At official banquets that are usually made up of male leaders where token Chinese female guests are rarely seen, my younger fellow volunteers often get teased with "We'll help you find a Chinese boyfriend," which receives a polite smile and a joking reply, "I'm too tall for Chinese men." Are the dating habits and future wedding goals of a female colleague a socially accepted topic of small talk? In America we would never discuss this with the dean of a department and if given dating or marriage advice by our boss we would think how inappropriate.
Every Monday afternoon, during the 10 minute break, I sit in the teacher's lounge and practice my Chinese. There are only two of us, my Kung Fu teacher from last semester and me. He is in his late 50's and is the dean of the P.E. department. Can you guess what we talk about? Somehow the conversation moves towards marriage and boyfriends.
He says, "You should get married."
We have this conversation every Monday. Maybe it is a socially accepted topic of conversation in Chinese, but then with a different dean I also have had long English conversations about the pros and cons of finding a Chinese husband versus an American one. He sits me down regularly and tells me that my next priority after Peace Corps should be finding a husband. "You're not getting any younger," he says. "Women's biological clocks are ticking. You want children right?"
I don't think in this instance it is just polite small talk. It is more of fatherly advice where he is concerned and knows what is best for my future.
I wonder, "Why is it the male leaders who are putting pressure on me to get married?" I find it curious that it isn't women who are pressuring me. I would have first assumed that peer pressure would come from one's female peers. Instead, it seems like the pressure is coming from the patriarch. Why does it matter so much to male leaders whether or not I get married? Are unmarried women somehow a threat or abnormal? Is it seen as the male's duty to make sure there is harmonic balance in society where all females become wives?
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
1. What are your specific goals for requesting a site exchange trip?
Goal 1: Students and staff of my university will have the opportunity
l To see how students at a different university are using English to describe photographs about China by attending a photo show of the Gongda English Photo Club
l To listen to a lecture given by a visiting PCV, M., about self-portraits as well as watch a documentary about children taking photographs about their daily lives
l To use cameras provided by the Gongda English Photo Club to take their own photos about a particular theme as well as write about the photographs in English
Goal 2: Tree House participants who are interested in working on a Tree House yearbook will learn about photography and about writing about photographs so that they can use the knowledge to create their own yearbook.
Goal 3: Students of the Gongda English Photo Club will have the opportunity to discuss our students' photographs and writing.
2. What do you plan to do and what organization and/or people do you plan to visit?
Travel to my site (6-8 hours by bus)
1.5 hour lecture and movie
9am- 5 pm
Students will borrow cameras to take photos
Travel back to M.'s site (6-8 hours by bus)
Later during the semester, after the film has been developed, students who took photographs will gather together to write about their photographs and then publish a book of their photographs and English writings.
Success: About 300 students, teachers, and community members participated in this event. The photo show was probably one of the first public English language and art displays my university has ever hosted which in my opinion is super cool. Living in China, how often have I been given the opportunity to attend an art show?