Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is my Chinese superior?

I'm taking a Chinese proficiency test on Saturday, partly for fun and curiosity, partly to eventually fulfill the language requirement in my master's degree studies. I'm taking level 3 of 4 because I know I could pass level 2. The problem is that the gap between 2-3 is quite large, and I estimate that I'm right in the middle. For level 2 they suggest you know 1800 characters, and it jumps up to 5000 for level 3 (officially known as "Superior"). Thinking about this reminded me of how proud I was (documented above) to know 30 characters! Ah this language, it has been quite the journey. Now if they test words about education, the bible, or broken legs, I'll pass with flying colors...economics, on the other hand, not so much.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Easter is Coming!

We have a long weekend on Easter this year, as it fittingly coincides with Tomb Sweeping Day. When I tell the Easter story, I usually say that when Jesus friends went to 掃墓 (sweep the tomb) they found that it was empty! This year, I'm not going to boil any eggs (whew) but have some interesting things planned. But for now, a great song that I heard in church today that really helps prepare the heart.

The chorus is my favorite part:

Living he loved me
Dying he saved me
Buried he carried
My sins far away
Rising he justified
Freely forever
One day he's coming
Oh glorious day

Monday, March 08, 2010

A little bit of patriotism

When I visited Vancouver last summer, I could see that the Olympic spirit had already started to set in. In summer of 2008, I saw a lot of Chinese national pride in this section of the world, the Olympics were on TV a lot, and I happened to transit through Hong Kong during the summer where all airport employees were wearing Olympic T-shirts. I got my Olympic gear in a care package from my friend Shelly, and a coworker who went home for Chinese New Year brought back Quatchi plushies for all.
Unfortunately, Taiwan wasn't as interested in the winter Olympics. Even as late as December when I asked students where the next Olympics would be held, most of them were guessing London or Shanghai... it's understandable since Taiwan doesn't really get much snow, and winter sports are almost nonexistent here.
My Olympic updates came mostly via Facebook, with people counting down medals, cheering for hockey teams, and then silence when we lost the first Canada/U.S. hockey game. I could tell my compatriots were pretty bummed about it.
So when I heard about some friends planning to get up at 3:30am and go to a local pub where they would be broadcasting the gold medal match, I figured - why not! If it's the only Olympic event I get to see, well it will certainly be the one to watch.
So we did it, we got there at four am to find the place already packed! It seemed like some of the people just hadn't gone home from the night before... but fortunately, they served coffee and breakfast. Everywhere we looked, we saw Canadians in red and white, hockey jerseys, and even saw some flags. It seemed like every Canadian in Taipei turned out! There were Americans there too, but for some reason, they were all just dressed in their regular clothes. I guess the Olympics really does bring out a patriotic spirit.
As most of my readers should know by now, it was a great game. There was cheering and singing of the national anthem when we won. There were hugs and pictures, and a general feeling of euphoria. What a great day. (BTW I drank at least 5 cups of coffee that day to get me through four hours of class in the afternoon).