Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Temp Update

In the past 11 days...

  1. I attended a wedding. Photos and story coming after...
  2. ...my travelogue update. Which I have started writing. This is a true fact. I've discovered that the writing is taking much longer than I expected, as the word count is much greater than anticipated - particularly because I saw, learned, and thought a lot of new things over a brief two weeks. Be patient.
  3. I am now officially on vacation for four days. This will ensure the completion of #1, above. I originally meant to climb 黄山 (Yellow Mountain) during this vacation, but returned my ticket just a few hours ago because the weather report wasn't looking good. I figure if I want to enjoy the experience I had better not go when it's raining, especially as I hear the steps on the west side are torturous even in good weather, so I figure I'd be looking at me feet the whole time at best, breaking something at worst. I could go somewhere else near-ish Beijing, but with the 黄山 idea no more, I've realized that there are a lot of things I need/want to do/catch up on - everything from finishing the State Department summer internship application to helping a friend with some English translations to reading some of the Chinese book my teacher lent me.
  4. And it's a good thing I stayed, too: after weeks of barely any news, the debate has finally reared its head once more. After attending an information session for all participants, I think I finally understand what's going on. 16 universities in Beijing will each send one team of foreign students, most of them clearly Asian and very good at Chinese, to engage in what can best be described as a 'performance-like debate' on a very abstract or otherwise subjective question. (Our first-round resolution is, 'The internet bring people closer together.') The teams get about a week and a half to train and prepare before each round (Round 1 is on 10/23), so when we arrive we're expected to have polished certain portions of our presentation - our introductions and mini performance before the debate starts, a three-pronged argument in support of our side of the resolution, a supporting story that can incite the audience's sympathy, and portions of our closing remarks including the recitation of a relevant passage from a famous Chinese work. The rest - the 'questioning' portion and the terrifying 'free debate' segment - will be much more spontaneous.

    Each team has 4 members, and each member has a very specific role (except for free debate, in which everyone is expected to participate). I'm kind of shocked that I'm on the team, as we had a very confusing 'surprise! final selection' round some weeks ago and there were definitely four graduate students who spoke much better Chinese than me, but perhaps it was because one of them was slightly crazy and the other was very passive throughout the mock debate. At any rate, I'm the only non-Asian on the team - besides the ol' US of A, we're also repping Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Thailand - but two ACC students and (I think) the semi-crazy lady (from Malaysia?) will hypothetically be our alternates. I expect to be given a memorization-heavy and response-light part, either First Speaker (explain our main points) or Second Speaker (tell a story that shows why we're right). Minzu is organizing our team fairly poorly, I think, but it seems like my teammates are all really serious about getting started right away with a few hours of training and probably dinner every day for at least a week, so this does have the potential to be a fantastic experience. It also means I'm going to have to be much more careful about my time, though, but that I think I can manage.

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