Roll up those taxi windows, drag your bags through security… this only comes every ten years. Beijing’s bitter wind welcomed 2270 delegates yesterday to shine their shoes and take their seats in a room booked for the “18th National Congress”. While the U.S. lets out its breath to enjoy another four years under Obama’s leadership, China prepares itself for a new president and premier (7 of the 9 current Politburo Standing Committee members are retiring this year). Xi Jinping, the likely candidate to replace President Hu Jintao, emphasized four main questions to be addressed at this year’s conference, namely: What flag will we wave? What path will we follow? And in what state of mind? To continue advancing towards what kind of goals? (我们党将举什么旗、走什么路、以什么样的精神状态、朝着什么样的目标继续前进) Specific, I know. Citizens wait eagerly to see what solutions the committee generates for problems like insufficient health care, inflated real estate, and the growing gap between the rich and poor. As news stations flash snippets of animated discussions over round mahogany tables, the mysterious lure of the national government grows in the eyes of the people. Local and provincial governments may be corrupt or unfair, but loyalty towards the national government is a tradition that stretches back thousands of years, born from the people’s innocent dependency and undying hope in a power that remains faceless. Just as religion presses followers to have faith in what they cannot see, a government too can round up millions of supporters if only by providing a mirage of hope.
Bet you’d never guess there’s a Chinese idiom for that: 披星戴月 (“day and night” or “to work or travel long hours”). Okay, quick Chinese lesson because I can’t help myself. So.. the first character, 披, pronounced “pi”, means to “wear” and the second, 星, pronounced “xing” (sh-ing) means “stars”. The first half of the idiom represents leaving for work so early that the stars are still out– it’s as if instead of putting on your coat to leave, you wrap the still-starry sky around your shoulders instead. The third character, 戴, pronounced “dai” (dye) also translates “wear” and the fourth character 月, pronounced “yue” (yw- e, with “e” as in “edible”) translates as “moon” or “moonlight”. The second half of the idiom reflects the notion that one returns home from work so late that the moonlight is already out.
I did leave work today in a stream of moonlight, though I can’t say I left my apartment this morning with the starry sky on my back. Still, titling this post “workin’ overtime” was not done in vain– we do end up working most Saturdays– whether it’s organizing presentations for bankers (jackpot for expensive tutoring and consulting courses) or talking with clients about our experiences with U.S. high school and collegiate academics. You can find two photos below from our “party” this past Saturday. As much as I complained about going to work on a Saturday, I did have the opportunity to talk about Brown and show folks a few photos I’d taken of the beautiful campus over the years. I think they enjoyed it🙂
And a fun pic of a few of my awesome co-workers🙂