Category Archives: China

为什么我喜欢中国、北京

别人常常问我,我为什么选择来中国,甚至北京这空气恶劣的城市?澳大利亚不好吗?美国不好吗?有些人说,城里的人想出去,城外的人想进去,但我觉得这不完全正确。很多人也喜欢待在家里。今天,我希望跟大家分享我怎么喜欢上中国。

我小时候,基本对中国和中华文化没什么概念,甚至在上中学的时候被排到了慢班。我跟我家人一直以来都用英语交流,中文对我没有什么意义,而且中文课应该是我比较讨厌的课。

2006年初,我在大学放了暑假,但因为签证的问题,我不能跟我爸妈待在新加坡三个月。那时候,我爸派了我去上海待一个月,让我感受感受中国。那时候,我也去了江南地区玩了一趟。我觉得,那时是我跟中国培养感情的开端。2007年末,我跟我的家人一起去了澳门玩。我们那时候也去了珠海一趟。我还深刻的记得,我那时过了边境,踏上中国的土地的时候,突然感觉我回到了家的样子。2009年,我去了华师大进修了一年的中文,在暑假期间跑了西安、北京、温州。那次的旅程让我更深的了解了中国。2011-2012年我在新加坡找工作的时候,因为不能留在新加坡,去了厦门、黄山、成都、九寨沟、重庆、海口。经过多次的旅途和接触,我跟中国渐渐地定了情。

这感情是怎么培养的呢?长话短说,是神把中国放在我的心里。经过不同经历,经过跟别人沟通,我发现中国在我心里慢慢地占了个越来越重要的位置。

那,我为什么喜欢北京呢?
一、我喜欢北京的文化气氛。北京是祖国的古都之一并且是目前的首都。在地铁站里看到字原的宣传,也会让我很开心。
二、我感受到北京的包容性。这城市包容了中国各地以及世界各国的人民。
三、在北京居住的人一般比南方人要坦诚、大方。
四、我觉得北京的生活节奏会比上海慢一步,给人呼吸的空间去思考生命中的大问题。

这些年跟中国培养的感情,去年十一月21日终于上了一个台阶。老子说:千里之行,始于足下。在中国安家的第一步,就是立足。在这里生活,这段时间,每天知道我在中国,都会让我开心起来 :-)

The Passing Away of a One Year Old Girl

This evening, I received news that Jenny has passed away. Since my previous post, I had been sketching out plans to help her, and planned on visiting her once a month with provisions and to check in on her. Questions run across my mind when I heard of her demise—would things have been different if I visited her upon my arrival in Beijing? Why didn’t I respond to get my own tourist visa to come to China while my work visa was held up? Why did God let her go at such an age? It probably wouldn’t have taken much to save her. I’m guessing she died because of neglect. As far as I know, she never had a proper name.

I’m not sure what else to say.

Homecoming

After months of struggling and wandering, I finally got my first opportunity to settle down in China. While others around me see it as a bold step out into a new world, I see it as my homecoming, albeit it’s not to my eternal home. God has granted me not just a place in China, but a place in the country’s administrative capital—Beijing. Beijing is far more attractive to me than Shanghai, because of it has a much thicker cultural atmosphere and is not as business oriented as Shanghai, at least in Haidian District.

Six months ago I stood in front of Google Beijing’s office, and pondered about what went on in there. Yet two nights ago, in an unexpected series of events intricately orchestrated, I could stand in front of the building as an employee-to-be.

What does the future behold? How long will I be in Beijing for? I don’t know, but I know that the future will be good.

寻求寄宿家庭

您好!欢迎您访问我的博客!在十一月下旬,我会去北京的一家信息科技公司上班,开始一个新的旅程。起初我想自己租个单间,或者跟别人合租,但我后来决定找个寄宿家庭。主要原因是因为我相信这样会让生活更有意义,同时能够在一个家庭的环境里继续成长。我明白寄宿家庭这个概念在中国目前不是很受欢迎,因为一般的家庭不会随便让一位陌生人踏入他们的家。但我还是抱着这份希望,在两千万人口的北京市里,能够找到一个合适的家庭。

对我而言,找个合适的寄宿家庭就像找个理想的对象。重要的是双方都看中对方,以及对这个安排感到满意。

先简单自我介绍。我是个在新加坡成长的华裔。08年大学毕业,09年去上海进修一年的中文,10年去越南给哥哥帮忙,以及尝试了一些别的工作。从去年离职到现在,大多数时间是在找工作和旅游,直到我收到这份工作的聘请函。至于我的个性,您可以看一下我的博客多了解。

在某种程度上我希望找到一个能够接纳我的家庭,把我当成家庭的一个成员,一起吃饭。我想用一半的业余时间参加您的家庭活动。目前来说,我希望每个月能够有时间到北京附近的一些省市逛一逛,多了解中国。英语作为我的母语,我愿意为您家庭每周提供一两次的英语课。除了科技,我还对语言学习比较感兴趣,也喜欢射箭、网球和保龄球。我不抽烟喝酒,希望您家人不抽烟。

我希望您们是四十或五十多岁的夫妻,有个至少六岁以上的孩子,能够我和您一起生活,当您孩子的朋友,让您的家成为一个更热闹、更温馨的地方。我希望您不是以经济为目的寻找租户,同时我承诺不给您家庭带来任何经济负担。这不是个必须条件,但如果您家离我将来的办公地点(海淀区清华科技园)比较近,那就更好了。

如果您看完帖子之后有意,欢迎您发邮件至lijie@eccentri.cc给我打个招呼,简单跟我介绍您的家庭情况。

期待着您的来信!

The Search for a Host Family

Update 10 Nov: All my visa pre-approval documents have been approved, and will be in Beijing before the end of the month.

Update 30 Oct: I expect to be in Beijing late November and am now actively seeking a host family.

In a few weeks time, I expect to start work in Beijing. While my natural tendency was to rent an apartment by myself, my brother suggested that I look for a host family to live with instead. The rationale for this is twofold—it will give me more exposure to building trans-generational relationships, and give me an idea of what to look for in my future family.

This blog post serves two purposes: The primary purpose is for me to sort out my thoughts on what I’m looking for in a host family, and the secondary purpose is for potential host families to find out about me. If you’re a family in Beijing looking to host someone, I would like to invite you to find out more about me here and on the rest of my blog. The company that I will be working for is a tech company located in Tsinghua Science Park (清华科技园), and in case you’re wondering, I turn 26 at the end of this year. Please note that such an arrangement is subject to my work visa being approved, of which the result should be out in about two weeks (Sep 19).

Before I continue, I would like to stress that I’m not looking for a pure room and board, but a family that I can be a part of for at least one year. I hope that I’ll be able to join in with family breakfasts and dinners (pending my work schedule), and perhaps chill out together about two Saturdays a month. I am considering traveling to neighboring provinces once a month. With English as my first language, I am happy to give you English classes once or twice a week. Apart from technology, I am also interested in how people learn language and use it as a tool for communication. Whenever I have the chance, I also enjoy a game of archery and tennis, though I must admit that my swing isn’t fantastic. I neither smoke nor drink, and do not expect that you do.

Ideally, you are a couple in your forties or fifties, and have at least one child born before 2006. You’re looking for someone to be a part of your household, to make your home a livelier place, to be a friend to your child(ren), and are not financially driven to rent a room out. It is not important that you have a very strong command of English, as my Chinese standard is sufficient for most purposes. Though not a necessity, it would be awesome if you live within 15 minutes of Tsinghua Science Park, my future workplace.

If you’re open to this idea and think we’re a suitable match, please email me. We can then arrange to meet on Skype to get to know one another better, and meet in person when I get to Beijing, before making final decisions.

Engineering Life for Success

Support systems and structures are vital to the survival of any living organism. Beyond keeping the organism alive, they protect the organism from attacks and other forms of stress. Likewise, it is important for us as people (distinct from the physiological parts of us) and organizations to have strong and robust support systems.

Since I left Vietnam in Apr 2011 with the intention of finding work back in Singapore, life threw its curves and I ended up staying in 23 different places in 15 different cities. While I’m grateful that I didn’t have to worry too much for the most part of it, I do wish that I had more robust support systems in place. The purpose of this blog post is to document lessons learned in these 16 months, and to consider what I would have done differently. I will focus on two key support systems today: Health, and social life.

There is a Chinese saying that highlights the importance of health in a revolution (身体是革命的本钱). This of course doesn’t necessarily just refer to revolutions, but can be used in the context of any endeavor. The first thing I noticed on my travels is that it’s extra tempting to sleep in. Bad move. This immediately starts the day off on the wrong foot and increases the likelihood of sleeping late, entering into a vicious cycle.

The other aspect is the lack of a social structure for me in every city that I visit. Going for dinner alone, visiting tourist spots alone can be fairly emotionally draining too.

I’ve found planning to be very effective at mitigating against such issues, and am writing this down as an SOP for future reference when I travel. Simply by planning activities with other people, I immediately sign myself into social contracts that make sure that I am not stuck in the hotel room. The below are some preparatory steps for a one month travel cum leisure trip.

  • Two weeks before the trip: Make contacts at destination. Not everyone checks their email every five minutes, and getting to know another person takes some time. These can be done on the basis of interests (e.g. language exchange), professional activities, or on very practical needs (e.g. Couch Surfing). In my last trip to Beijing, I met up with about four people whom I knew via Couch Surfing, after glancing through over 230 profiles and sending out about 30-40 messages.
  • One week before the trip: Schedule appointments to meet up with people. Look up places of interest in the city and keep the list for reference if you run out of ideas. I’m not a big fan of tourist spots, but it’s something to do together with a local. If you ask, many locals tend to be happy to bring you around a bit if they have the time. I love breakfast meetings as they help me start my day on the right note.
  • Two days before the trip: Confirm appointments, ensure contact information is exchanged. If you’ve already got to know who you’re meeting to some degree, then prepare some conversation topics and do some research! This doesn’t need to stifle the conversation, but is a backup plan to avoid awkward silences.
  • First day/night: scout acceptable restaurants near your hotel that look acceptable. These will come in handy when it’s 7pm and the last thing you want is to wander around looking for a decent place to eat. Take a few minutes out of your tired first day to mentally mark fruit stalls and other necessities, and the following days will be a lot easier. Identify suitable places to exercise. They will decrease the barriers to exercise when the time comes.

This SOP is certainly no magic bullet, but I’ve seen how the presence of people around made a huge difference to what I got out of the trip.

Accidents of Creation?

A friend recently shared with me the plight of a little girl, who I shall call Jenny. Without searching online or asking around, I am sure that her story is not unique, and that there are very possibly thousands or even tens of thousands of girls like her all across China.

Jenny was born about 8 months ago to parents who didn’t plan for her. In fact, her parents weren’t even committed to each other and her mother has left, leaving her father to fend for the family. As they come from the countryside, her father is frequently away from home, leaving his mother to take care of his child. When he returns home, he doesn’t take care of Jenny, but instead smokes, drinks, and gambles.

Though she is born into a bleak situation, her eyes tell of the hope that is within her. Her eyes are bright and radiate all that is in her heart. She can’t wait to grow up and explore the world.

According to Wikipedia, there were 58 million children in villages across China in 2008 who were not under the care of both parents. They are either raised by one parent, grandparent(s), or even sometimes a relative or family friend. They are so many of them that there is even a specific term coined to describe them—”留守儿童”, the “left-behind” children. Here is an article by the LA Times.

As my friend tells me about Jenny’s story, there is this desire in my heart to visit her. Perhaps she won’t understand a word I say. I’m not even sure that her father would let me see her, but the words of Brooke Fraser’s song Albertine keep ringing in my mind: now that I have seen, I am responsible; faith without deeds is dead; now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are.

58 million children, nearly a quarter of the nation’s children. Children who will never know what it means to have a complete family. So many that it may be easy to think that they are accidents of creation. Children born without hope. In a country without God, in a country where you need to fight or get left behind, it is so easy to shrug the problem away. If you are a Chinese and you are reading this, you are blessed.

I do not believe that these 58 million children are accidents. And the same goes for the many millions more who were born into broken families in cities all across China. Every child is a miracle conceived against the odds when a sperm successfully fertilizes an egg. It is also very likely that many mothers of these children contemplated abortion when they found out that they were pregnant, but the fight for life won over in the end, and a child was ushered into this turbulent world.

What can I do for all these children? That’s probably too ridiculous a question to ask. Perhaps I should start with, what can I do for Jenny? Or rather, what can I do for Jenny that is within my means? The first thing that I want to do is to give her hope. Oh how I wish to tell her that there is hope is a hopeless world, that she is not an accident from an unplanned pregnancy. How God has a plan and a future for her life though her parents may have forsaken her. How I wish I could cradle her in my arms and tell her that Jesus loves her and that he formed every fiber of her being.

How I wish I can give her a name that means hope, so that every time she goes to school, every time her teachers talk with her, they talk about hope. Every time she looks at her bleak condition, she can be reminded that she has hope of a bright future. Or what about love, that she may come to know God’s love for her one day? That though her father may not care about her, she has a father in heaven who loves her with an everlasting love and gives her the breath of life every day?

Without God in the picture, these 58 million children are nothing more than a number, a statistic, an accident of nature. I don’t have an answer for what God’s plan and design is. But perhaps I can end off with the chorus of a song I wrote back in 2008:

You’re not just a name
You’re not just another
Person on this planet
Hidden in the billions

You’re not just a name
You’re not just another
Person on this planet
Hidden in the billions
But the apple of God’s eye

杂谈(北京)

这次来了北京,以不同的目标过来。上次,09年,是过来玩的,可以随心所欲。而,这次,是想找份工作的。星期二00:35,飞机抵达了首都国际机场。离开了飞机场,我直接打车到我的酒店去。

星期二走了两万两千步,星期三走了两万步。今天,星期四,也该休息休息,没走那么多。今天去了海淀区人事局,才发现招聘会今天没开。我在展厅看了一些公司的广告,就看了周围的地方。即使人不算很多,但我感受到什么是"北漂"了。

星期二,去了北理工,北航和北交大,星期三,去了北大和清华。我真喜欢中国大学的气氛。又漂亮又有文化氛围。华师大的丽娃河、厦大的芙蓉湖、厦大的情人谷、北航的绿园、北大的未名湖,都给我留下了很多美好的回忆。在这些地方,我可以掏出我的日记本,享受充满意境的环境,录下我脑海中的想法。

即使我在09年在上海生活过一年,这次来了北京还是感觉有点难适应。连简单问路都会听不懂对方说的话。或许因为没有归属,没有朋友,心里有点陌生、孤独。走了那么多的地方,交过那么多的朋友,期盼着我梦想的开端,那为什么我来到我最喜欢的国家的首都,我真没料到会这么不自在。但说句实话,我这次来中国,从签证申请处,到这次在北京所遇见的人,自己感觉他们都挺亲切,挺友好。

这几天都没到海淀外面,觉得这里的人没我想象中多。可能我逛大学的时候学生们都在教室里?

我发一些照片前,对于各个多多少少帮助过我的朋友,我想表示感谢。无论是新加坡的或者中国的,谢谢你们提我一把。在我天黑暗的时刻,给我点了一盏灯。

成都——一座来了就不想离开的城市

我来了成都这二十来天里,经历了成都美景、交通、美食、医疗各方面的生活。在这段时间里我也通过沙发客网和别的方式交了很多来自中国各地的新朋友。我是个理性的人,从一个理性的角度来说,成都总是阴天,交通比较差,但我吃不准为什么在这短暂的二十来天,我确实有一丝不想离开的念头。

我希望能够用这些文字来记录我在这二十来天里比较深刻的印象。

  • 第一天,抵达双流机场,下了飞机,顺利地过了海关,然后我就呆了。我从来没看过几百人不是在有次序排队上出租车。
  • 串串:一位朋友带我去吃了串串。我从来没看过那么红的汤,那样吃的方式。吃的很疯。嘿嘿。
  • 成都的生活节奏确实比较慢。有一位朋友好几次让我慢下步伐。甚至我们离红绿灯只有大约十米的时候,我说要不要赶上去,她还说“不要急,顺其自然”。
  • 这是我第一次在路上看到很多少数民族穿着他们的民族服装。感觉到这个城市是一个民族大中心。
  • 公交车拥挤得确实有点疯狂。我真不理解在非高峰期的中午(三点)和晚上(十点),公交车怎么会挤满人?可能是市政府没预先规划好城市的发展。
  • 即使我听不懂四川口音,我依然觉得这是我到现在最喜欢的口音。这个声音,我会记住的。

我具体也说不出我为什么喜欢这个城市。可能在我的潜意识里,心弦被触碰了,让我爱上这盆地里的城市。

成都——一座来了就不想离开的城市。我起初不认同这句话,但现在不得不承认这句话对我成真了。

多一年的情人节

  多一年没有她的情人节又这样过了。今年我在中国传说中最合适居住的城市,四川成都,过节。在春熙路上看着一对一对的情人在牵着手,慢慢地步行,享受城市的夜景。
  无论你在哪个城市看这样的场景,你会有什么样的感想?你会为别人开心吗?还是嫉妒他们在路上显摆他们的幸福?在这美女之都,我的心里不得不有点羡慕这些拥有伴侣的男生。在路过一对一对的情侣,我也希望我能够看出来多少情侣是活在真实爱情之世,或者多少活在幻想中。
  即使她还没进入我的生命,我知道祂时时刻刻都在我的身边。星期天晚上九点半,路上几乎一辆车都没有,约好的出租车司机去睡了,祂却给我在陌生偏远的九寨沟市供应了一辆出租车回酒店。别人可能会把这件事看为好运,但我心里知道这是祂对我的一份小心意。除了“哇”,我不知道该如何表达我的谢意。
  在今年的情人节,听着滴嗒的《柔软时光》《情人节 对TA说的话》,我想对你说一句简单的,我爱你。谢谢你时时刻刻在看顾我,领我走你的义路。谢谢你无限无条件的爱,每天的阳光,每根花草,每个微笑,给我表示了你对我的爱。
  在今年的情人节,我可以许个愿吗?这可不可以是我最后没有她的情人节?我知道这不是我的权利,因为我这条命根本不属于我的,而属于你的。但你自己说:“所盼望的迟延未得,令人心忧;所愿意的临到,却是生命树。”你也知道我心里带着多么的盼望,盼望着在下一个角落会遇见她。你也说:“你们祈求,就给你们;寻找,就寻见;叩门,就给你们开门。”
  她是我第一个认识的追求真理的中国女孩。因为这简单的心念,她打动了我的心。哪怕我真不喜欢成都的阴天,糟糕的交通,我心里拥有一丝愿意留在这城的意念。或许是别人对我多次说了成都的美好,又或许是因为她。你知道我多希望能够让她认识你吗?你说你就是道路、真理、生命。你也说我们必晓得真理,而真理必叫我们得以自由,真正的自由。
  每次用这美丽的语言来表达我的想法,我都会在每一句上花很多时间,尽量用最恰当的表达方式把一字字敲出来。
  现在又过了睡觉的时间,我今天就把话说到这里。情人节快乐,我爱你。