Watching Ghost in the Shell, in Asia

 

While I do like to write reviews on occasion, I usually go for lesser-known books and movies particularly if there is a focus on China or Asia. Generally speaking, while I do have my fanboy side, I think enough has already been written about big Hollywood blockbusters and my point of view won’t add much.

However, with all the recent controversy surrounding the now-bombing remake of Ghost in the Shell, I feel it may be worth sharing my perspective as an American abroad in Asia. Hope I’m not too late to the game.

First of all, I am a longtime fan of the original manga and anime. I wrote about my manga habit here, about the brilliant mangaka Masamune Shirow creator of Ghost in the Shell. I find the source material even better than the acclaimed 1995 anime film directed by the great Mamoru Oshii, but suffice to say that is one perfect film. The explorations into the nature of sentience, cyberpunk critiques of tech in society, and the philosophical themes about identity are all amazingly ahead of their time. (Actually,  just rewatched the original film for old time’s sake… And that only makes me loathe the remake more.)

Directed by Rupert Sanders, the new film is certainly interesting in the visual sense but so extremely dumbed down that it there is just no reason for the movie to exist. There’s already an excellent adaptation of the manga, not to mention plenty of episodes of the spinoff series and concurrent animations. Why do we need this live-action film?

I suppose that could start a discussion about the nature of any adaptations. Even if we were to go down that road and I’d grant that it’s worth rebooting these things for the sake of finding a new audience, I still feel the one currently out in theaters fails on its own merits.

The film doesn’t work. The streets of Hong Kong–or some ambiguous setting–full of holographic advertisement bombardment seems to be the only thing Sanders cares to add with any interest. There’s not even any nudity. The acting is stiff, pretentious, and not believable. Scarlett Johansson does not come across as well a reserved cyborg warrior with deeper notions of trying to understand herself. Batou, played by Pilou Asbæk, is inconsistent with his accent and not in the same league as the anime character whatsoever. Overall, it’s just like that other recent remake that was such a big deal, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Because ultimately the only thing these nostalgic movies succeed at is that they make you want to go watch the original classic animated versions.

But just being another lame Hollywood scifi action blockbuster isn’t the real reason why this film has been so controversial, and is failing so badly. Let us address the elephant. The whitewashing.

First of all, I was quite willing to give this universe’s version of the Major a chance. Fine, Scarlett Johansson is playing a character inspired by a Japanese character but named Mira Killian. She wouldn’t literally playing a person of another race in this version’s world, right? She even said so in interviews. I mean, after all the awareness of whitewashing the producers couldn’t be stupid enough to actually have her play an Asian?

I’d announce a spoiler alert, but in fact the trailer gave it away a long time ago. In more of the film’s stupid choices for originality, instead of the fascinating cybernetic lifeform Puppet Master as villain it turns out that the Hollywood plot is of course a complete Robocop ripoff. The evil corporation experimented on her and she has to try to get back her memories. The Section 9 team doesn’t do anything but get manipulated, and bring nothing constructive to the world of the film. So why root for them?

In any case, the trailer gave that away and it wasn’t a good storyline. But what’s worse, if you finally watch the movie the only surprise left s that the Major’s true self turns out to be.. wait for it… a Japanese girl named Motoko Kusanagi.

Oh, come on. Who on earth thought that would be a good idea? So there you have it, in your face whitewashing. Scarlett in yellowface. White privilege casting through and through, full of supremacist implications considering that cybernetic engineers “perfect” their experiments by turning them white, and with assumptions of whiteness as default thrown in.

That was just so much worse than it needed to be. Why Hollywood, why?

 

As a disclaimer I should probably say that I am a white person myself. Yet I do recognize the fact Hollywood clearly marginalizes minorities and that the idea of ‘white’ as the default is a supremacist trope which must be challenged. The media has a responsibility to be fair, and empathetic humans should care about these issues no matter what we look like or where we come from.

Continue reading

Advertisements

And I said I wasn’t going to be a political blogger…

Maybe a small stupid thing and I hope to do more but here's me with a #safetypin

A post shared by Ray (@raelianautopsy) on

 

And I said wasn’t going to be a political blogger…

Been a devastating week since I posted about what I really think of American politics.

I’m not taking the election results well. I, like most people in my world, did not see that coming. Does this mean we should’ve trusted Michael Moore and Ann Coulter?

Seriously, I don’t mean expats who are far from America didn’t see this coming, I mean everyone I know back in America as well as Americans I know in Shenzhen and all over the world. I had no idea I was so out of touch. That’s what really hurts.

I feel betrayed by the news media. Those liberal websites I followed with their pundits and polls — which I guess is no longer a thing in this brave new world– they had no idea what was going on. Huffington Post was worst of all, but all the sites suck. I’m over it. Since then, no more talk shows for me either, no topical comedy, no SNL skits. I want none of it. I deeply regret all that time I spent trying to keep in touch with America and it turned out to be a complete waste.

(No, I won’t getting into right-wing propaganda :post-facts” websites either. I am thinking of only following British news sources from now on. At least international news has a good excuse for being out of touch with middle Americans.)

 

I didn’t sleep the first day. I talked to my best friend back home for hours, analyzing and analyzing and trying to make sense. He didn’t take it well either. I ranted to my poor girlfriend nonstop about the American system and how everything is so much worse than I realized.

I want to be an optimistic person, believe it or not, I really do. But now that I realize the entire global system is so fragile it’s very difficult to anticipate anything good can come of this. Sure it was flawed. But now this? All the gains of the past have been thrown out the window. Nobody knows for sure what will happen next. Most likely, if you believe that the shit-spouting candidate will do what he said he was going to do, real fascism is coming.

 

Why did this happen? Because of the FBI? Because Hillary Clinton truly is that bad a candidate? Because of apathetic voters who stayed home, or the nationwide gerry-mandering that is the electoral college?

I mean, how can this be the same country that elected Obama? It’s so hard to make sense of it.

In terms of numbers, what apparently occurred is that the same amount of Republicans voted in 2008 and 2012, but Democrats voted in smaller numbers and hence lost all the swing states. So it’s not a popular vote country. Perhaps Obama is the aberration, an incredible individual who turned the tide on America on his own yet now the pendulum swung way back into the gutter more Americans are used to.

God, why couldn’t it at least have been a normal Republican who won…

There are new rules for politics. I suppose it might be interesting to see what may come next. I realize that Obama even beat Clinton in 2008 because he had such little experience, not despite it even that that was what the right criticized him for. Turns out experience is a liability. Americans like “outsiders” now or something.

And while third parties never did gain any traction, just about anybody can take over the major parties. What a damn tragedy that the DNC cheated Bernie Sanders out of winning the candidacy, how amazing it would have been to see how that would turn out.

 

I still replay this all in my mind and it’s so hard to find a narrative that makes sense. Just what is the lesson?

He didn’t even really try. He lost all the debates, his campaign staff was a mess, and his rhetoric was all over the place. Only the fascistic elements were consistent. It seemed obvious to me that he just wanted to launch a TV network.

I mean, it was the most negative campaign in modern history. Is it going to be this way now, everyone has to be as ruthless as possible to win?

And he lied so much. Pathologically. Anyone can look it up on Politico, or debunk myths on Snopes, but for some reason most don’t care about the lies. His base doesn’t care about his lies whatsoever.

Apparently, the biggest problem today is that so many people live in different bubbles due to their own Internet medias of choice. The right likes to whine about the “mainstream media” but there’s no such thing. Reality TV had a hell of a lot more influence than the news media. The new culture of anti-intellectualism rejects fact-checking and chooses their own facts. Thanks, Facebook.

And fool that I am I always though digital technology was going to save humanity… Shows what the hell I know.

 

So currently the narrative is forming that we are supposed to respect the supporters, because they’ve had it bad and it was liberal arrogance that pushed them away. We shouldn’t have called them racists or whatever.

Sure, snobby liberals can have their faults but I find this election a serious overreaction! I mean, seriously?! Boo hoo, people got mad because of political correctness and so you nominate a disgusting vulgar fascist.

Don’t even get me started on how I don’t understand women voters.

The truth is that humans are fundamentally stupid. We are instinctual animals that can sometimes be rational, not rational beings who sometimes give in to emotions. People do not want to learn. People want “strong leaders”, that is they want dictators.

I will certainly concede that the supporters are not all necessarily hardcore white supremacists (though many many indeed are). But the majority did turn a blind eye to some very dark forces indeed. They chose being willfully ignorant and made excuses for bigotry — be it against Muslims or Hispanics or women — and instead of thinking deeply about personal bias they had a temper tantrum  because they don’t like being labeled as what they are. Well at best, they are suckers.

I don’t think this new era is going to go well for the white working class. Let’s bet on it.

I guess it will be “different,” whatever that means, whatever it is people want so bad.

 

Seriously, this is different than George W. Bush’s presidency, which was very bad, or McCain or Romney or even what Ted Cruz could have been. This is ushering in a new paradigm of embracing the worst of humanity.

So here we are with a documented explosion of hate crimes and an unprecedentedly corrupt — from not releasing tax records to refusing a blind trust and giving his kids positions like a third-world tyrant — executive branch with no idea what it’s doing. It begins.

 

I’m lucky to be in China, now that China is pretty much certain to take over the world.

I may never go back to America. To be fair, I wasn’t planning on going back any time soon.

I do admire the new protest movement. I wish I was there to express my horror at what is happening and fight the good fight, I wish I could.

But what to do? Efficient governance has failed, due to a completely broken democratic system. I can only conclude that anarcho-libertarianism is the appropriate ideology in this age, everyone has got to take care of themselves. Let’s just hope that the environmental damage to the planet Earth doesn’t ruin it forever for every selfish individual out there.

 

Funny thing about being a hopeless white guy right now, my black friend really did see this coming. Damn I was naive. I assured him the monster candidate couldn’t win, yeah he wasn’t supposed to get this far but his base was fringe, that this was a story of Republicans imploding, and history would progress. He really knew better. He’s planning on leaving the country and I support that decision; it’s not hyperbole, he has the means to do it.

 

There will probably be a hero of the new left in four years time, that ol’ pendulum will swing back, but by then things will have changed so drastically it may be impossible to repair. I do hold out hope that something can happen in the next two months, like he’ll quit to work on Drumpf TV and we’ll be left with Mike Pence as a weak status quo Republican. It’s not ideal but the world would make a bit more sense.

 

I wonder if this is one of those “great men” theories of history or if this was inevitable because of historical forces. Is he such an enormous personality that he gets to change history, or would that have happened to someone else regardless at the rate America is going?

It seems around the world authoritarianism is gaining ground. Xi, Putin, Brexit, Neo-Nazi parties in Europe, Duterte, the recent coup in Brazil, Thailand crackdowns, the Likud Party in my homeland (I’m just going to go ahead and introduce myself as Israeli nowadays, not American. Never thought I’d see the day), and so much more everywhere. I wish people were educated enough to know how to properly blame corporatist elites for the ruined economy around the world, I wish they had better ideas about alleviating poverty and violence, but maybe it’s because of Internet bubbles or maybe it’s because of the human tribal instincts but in any case this is happening.

 

 

It really feels like we’re in an alternate reality. I for one fully believe in the many worlds multiverse more than ever.

 

That’s about all I can say. No endless links, no articles to quote with the hopes of changing minds. That never worked. That did no good.

It’s over, and this is the world we live in.

Continue reading

What I really think… American politics

tmw2016-10-19color

So hard to choose just one Tom Tomorrow cartoon to encapsulate all Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/17/1582847/-Cartoon-Word-salad

 

 

So, I am admittedly writing this at the last possible moment. Not trying to change minds here, I guess, I’m just trying to figure things out for myself and express it as rationally and sincerely as possible. These issues are important and should be thought about deeply. That’s all I’m generally attempting to do.

I follow politics as much as I can, and as an American abroad I think it’s even more important to be aware of what is happening in the world. It matters. The times, they are serious. If you happen to be friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed the articles I choose to share. While I try not to be too annoying or angry when it comes to political rants, there are things worth being aware of and I say what I can.

However, I’m not truly qualified to be a columnist and a pundit and I don’t usually take up this sort of writing. My journalism tends to be light, and my fiction tends to be about human experiences in small scales. I am not the kind of blogger to try to save the world or anything.

Yet now I am writing this post in a rush in an attempt to organize all that is going on in my mind. History is unfolding right before the world’s eyes, and I must attempt to comment upon it before the results of the polls come in and it’s too late.  Here I go.

*             *             *

First of all, as someone who generally tries to be a moral person I am going to start this out by talking about Nazis. Yeah, went there, let’s get it out of the way already. There is indeed a valid reason every argument seems to get into Nazis eventually, and that’s because it really is a point in world history worth making comparisons. And is it just me, or is it more poignant that ever?

I do have a point I’m getting to. The main question remains: Was the average German citizen in the 1930s particularly evil, or were they merely caught up in historical forces beyond their understanding? And moreover, where they victims of propaganda or do they deserve to be held responsible for supporting the worst dictatorship in history?

I used to lean towards the side that it wasn’t quite the average person’s fault. Both cynically and sympathetically, I used to conclude that the average folk of most societies would probably support a Nazi party if historical forces added up, and that it wasn’t really their fault. We must be ever more wary and question ourselves for that reason, so that we can have the perspective to not get caught up in evil ideologies. I mean, we should hope that future historians don’t look back and ask the question of why we of today are so evil. Shouldn’t that be a good benchmark for inner contemplation on human morality?

That’s what I used to think. I don’t think that way that any longer. Today, I can no longer help but think that the average German citizenry who supported Nazism – or at least was too apathetic to care so long as they’re Aryan – were terrible people and should be judged accordingly for it. I think this because contemporary Trump supporters are the modern equivalent.

That’s what I’m saying. As a (hopefully) thoughtful American, I believe that Trump supporters are terrible human beings and they should know better and don’t deserve sympathy and history will judge them as monsters.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a greater perspective. Like, pretty much everywhere is evil when you break it down. I live in the People’s Republic of China, which one used to at least be able to say was going in a positive direction until Xi Jinging took power. I have connections to Israel, which certainly does have its human-rights abusing issues and currently the Likud party in particular. I went to South Africa last year, full of upper-class whites who got where they are by way of apartheid. Even the United States has a complicated history of aboriginal genocide and slavery and oppression throughout the 20th century, and hell the Bush years of illegal war-mongering wasn’t that long ago and the Obama administration wasn’t as different as it was supposed to be! And that just goes for the countries with the most power, plenty of less developed nations have terrible challenges. It’s a complex web of historical privilege, apathy, and some brainwashing that usually makes it not totally the fault of citizens that their governments can be forces of evil.

Yet something else is going on right now. Something ugly. There is a powerful new movement within my country and it can’t be excused as them just getting caught up in a manipulated framework they don’t understand. No, they are willfully-ignorant people who support authoritarian policies. There is no other way to put it.

The Trump legions are not supporters of conservative economic policy which we can debate. They do not have some rational thoughts about being hawkish on defense policy. They don’t want to fix immigration. They don’t really care about how an outsider of politics can save the country.

No, what they have are racial resentments, serious problems with hypocrisy, and for some reason support a strongman dictatorship which is against everything good that America is supposed to stand for.

They are supporters of bigotry. They are supporters of hate. That is what’s going on.

I probably won’t change any minds by being all arrogant and mad. I do wish I had some brilliant arguments that would cause Trump supporters to soul search and question themselves. It doesn’t work that way though. Hey, it’s a post-fact political world.

Still, I have a lot to say and I must say it.

Something dark is happening in my country. There’s always been partisanship, and there have been ugly times in history worse than we remember regardless of the mythical “Great Again” that they’re supposed to make America. But specifically it appears that Internet culture is the difference these days, and it disturbs me.

Dammit, society was supposed to be evolving. When Obama was elected in ’08 – who clearly did sell out on many issues but didn’t deserve the vitriol of the opposition party the past eight years – it was heralded as a new era in terms of online participation. Internet-savvy young people, we were told, turned the tide.

Nowadays, with you-know-who on Twitter, the fury of ignorance has become the loudest voice in the digital sphere. As experts smarter than me have explained, the danger of online media is that people become lost in their own echo chamber and ignore news that disagrees with their preconceived notion, and they believe things that aren’t true. Facts don’t matter. It’s confirmation bias on steroids. Furthermore, the anonymity of the medium has let loose millions of fully racist commentors. The trolls are attempting to take over the most powerful government on earth.

Here is an intelligent article about the white supremacist alt-right movement which forms the backbone of Trump supporters, and everyone needs to read this:

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/alt-right

To summarize, the young generation of white supremacists (or white separatists, or racial realists, or whatever shit these people call themselves lately) are very savvy when it comes to memes and propaganda etc. and have started taking their own trolling seriously. The worst of YouTube comments basically have a political movement now, and it is organized.

It really is that bad.

*             *             *

What happened? Is it the fault of new media technologies? I am scared it’s deeper than the usual pattern of how when the economy gets bad far isolationist right-wing parties take power – as happened in many places in Europe. I get that it happens. What I am afraid of is that although they will lose they are still going to be a permanent part of the modern American landscape from now on.

How the hell has this happened?! I mean, I used to follow conservative media. I did. I used to watch Fox News and listen to talk radio. I used to be… I shudder to say it… a libertarian. Of course, I do feel it’s important to be an independent and get all sides of the various issues that affect our world.

The conservative ideology used to be quite clear. The mainstream was liberal biased, and the best way to grow an economy was through free market principals. Oh, and welfare is bad. Then some optional religious stuff. That was the gist as I understood it.

I have since come to recognize that it was all a lie. For years conservatives told a certain story, and their audience ate it up, and it was a lie. Sure we know that the Tea Party was kind of a monster the Republican Party propped up and then couldn’t control any more. But it’s an even worse mess than that. Because Donald Trump does not even pretend to be a conservative on any issue. He is an extremist nationalist, and that is the main issue that his people believe in. That’s all it ever was.

Like really, Sean Hannity turned around on the Iraq War? Really, Hannity?!?! They believe in nothing. Except for bigotry.

Say, for example, with welfare. Turns out those masses of people were lying when they said they were against the dole due to economic and moral grounds. No, they don’t care about taxes or incentives to work. They just care that certain ethnic groups don’t deserve the welfare that they deserve.

It has turned out that it was always more about white identity politics more than anything else.

Take the fact that Trump’s base are evangelicals, and the fact that Catholics and especially Mormons have largely rejected him (good on them). This truly pisses me off. It shows that evangelicals are ignorant about even the very basics of the Christian religion, and that they always have been, and what they care about in fact is being part of an ethnic community and rejecting other communities. Seriously, does anyone with a brain believe that Trump is a real Christian? What else can it be with those people? At least Catholics and Mormons have the ability to be consistent in their values.

It is not a left-right thing anymore. Not even close. The right has abandoned everything they ever said they believe in just to prop up a nationalist monster.

Hell, even the conspiracy theory land people like with Infowars have abandoned everything they used to stand for. (I know it was a crazy site, but during the Bush years it was something of a source for the anti-war movement. Even in the early Obama years there were valid points about the banking corruption in the ol’ Alex Jones documentaries. Now he gave it all up for nothing more than the bigotry of being anti-feminist or something, along with the whole uber-nationalism shitck.)

*             *             *

There is a certain narrative going around that intelligent people are supposed to feel sorry for Trump supporters because they are blue-collar working class who have sadly lost their jobs due to globalist free trade policies.

There is this Cracked article about how to empathize with Trump supporters because it’s a city versus country thing: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/

Usually I like Cracked. Good with myth-busting. But this one wasn’t good.

Obviously Republicans do tend to be more rural and Democrats tend to be more urban. And one could argue that it’s lack of education which causes people to inadvertently have such awful politics.

But that isn’t the case. Here’s what’s really going on to a much larger degree:

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/15/13286498/donald-trump-voters-race-economic-anxiety

Got it? To sum it up, evidence shows that Trump’s base isn’t necessarily that poor. Polling shows that racial anxiety is the real issue that worries the majority. This is what is happening, this is what kind of people they are.

Again, the fact that Trump’s other main issue besides kicking out Mexicans and Muslims is protectionist trade policies – long thought the purview of the radical left – shows how out of whack the usual liberal vs conservative definitions are.

And yet I still contend that the factories going to China issue isn’t even what they’re serious about in the first place. Deep down, only the bigotry matters.

 

Continue reading

Interview with Sonia Su

My latest interview is with Sonia Su of the aptly-named SoniaSu.com (well, I have the same site-naming system). She’s an American blogger in the nearby city of Guangzhou, and works for GDTV. Her blog details the day-to-day challenges of living abroad, written with humor and an eye for details. Be sure to check it out after enjoying this interview!

 

unnamed

 

The obvious first question: What brought you to China in general and Guangzhou specifically?

I first came to China (Guangzhou) when I just around 10 years old, with my strongest memory from that trip being stepping off the plane and feeling uncomfortable with the polluted air even in the airport. And yet, after taking up Chinese in college, I ended up studying and interning abroad for a semester in Shanghai and falling in love with the city and living in a Chinese megalopolis. Then when it came time to graduate and look for jobs, I looked for opportunities in Asia. In typical Chinese fashion, through some guangxi, I ended up landing an interview at Guangdong TV and then the job I have now. Guangzhou ended up being the perfect city because many of my relatives still live here, so they have been incredibly helpful in getting me settled. Plus, it’s close to Hong Kong, which is where I inevitably want to be.

 

How familiar were you with China before you moved permanently?

With some family trips and the study abroad experience, I came thinking I knew at least some of what to expect. But man, soon enough, we expats realize shit happens and there will be many moments, especially in the beginning, when we’ll want to escape ASAP. As a sheltered ABC (American Born Chinese) from a suburban town, I’m realizing that I will never get used to many things about living in Guangzhou, let alone China. There are plenty of ups and plenty of downs, but it helps to try to develop a deeper understanding of China’s history and its people to get you though some of the outright unacceptable-to-foreigners aspects. Within these several months I’ve been here, I’ve already explored so much of my family’s hometown and continue to learn every day.

 

What has been the biggest challenge to living abroad?

While my language skills need work, I would say cultural differences are more challenging. Even if you know how to express something in Chinese or even if you’re talking with a local who speaks English fluently, at the end of the day, we have different ways of thinking, perceiving, acting, etc. It can be cool to learn about these often-vastly different points of view, but it can also be frustrating to have to explain why freedom of press, for example, is so very important while stuck in the land of the Great Firewall. Frankly, priorities vary in a country where someone with a monthly income of 10,000 RMB ($1,500 USD) in the 1995 was considered today’s version of millionaire and the poverty line was 173 RMB, compared to around 2,000 now, according to my cousin. It can be hard to keep that in mind when you see kids drop their pants and pee on the streets on your morning walk to work.

 

What is it like working in the media in China?

Among the many constant reminders that we are no longer in America, working in media is one of them. Propaganda, which is not a negative term here, is as rampant as one would expect. I could go on for days or even weeks about my experiences.

 

Do you like working on-camera doing interview and hosting shows?

I’ve been working both on and off camera, even directing, hosting, and producing my own shows. That statement alone speaks to the insane opportunity one has in China. Working for the TV station itself opens so many doors. I’m grateful.

 

Your blog is called “adventures abound”; do you consider yourself an adventurer?

I’m an adventurer from the perspective of someone born and raised within the bubble of American suburban life. From another, perhaps not. For the most part, these aren’t exactly the typical adrenaline-pumping adventures of a world traveler. Just recently, I had to go on a last-minute visa run. To someone else, that sounds like the worst “adventure,” but then you read my blog and find out I actually had an amazing time making the most of such scenarios. And the fact that I live on my own on the other side of the world makes anything I do an adventure I need to record.

 

Your blog is about the day-to-day life, and you do post rather frequently. Do you ever find it difficult to come up with new content or do you write all the time?

I rarely have trouble coming up with something to write about. Even if I were still in Maryland, I would probably write about how I have nothing to do. But I’m in China. When is there not a day when I don’t experience something crazy or at least potentially interesting to my readers?

I’ve also just always been a writer in some way. I grew up very soft spoken and would let out my thoughts via journaling. That said, my blog is far from being any literary masterpiece. I write very casually.

 

How would you describe your writing practice?

Now I tend to blog weekly about the experiences and observations I’ve collected. I take a look at all my photos and notes and go from there. And given how many photos I generally take, blogging ends up taking quite a bit of time but is definitely worth it. Taking notes is essential, not necessarily because I’ll forget experiences so soon, but rather those minute details that make a story better.

 

What do you like to read?

I’m less of a blog reader and more of a newsletter reader. I subscribe to an unhealthy number of newsletters, which include blogs, but as for going directly to blogs or websites that aren’t Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, that ironically isn’t a habit of mine.

Being in China and understanding that there’s a lot I don’t understand, I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction on China. One of my 2016 resolutions is to read at least one book a month, so I’m currently finishing up Peter Hessler’s Country Driving. It’s my first Hessler book, and I already can’t wait to read his others. I also highly recommend the Sinica podcast for anyone interested in China.

 

What’s next? Do you plan on staying in China?

I’m planning on applying to grad school to get a Master’s in Chinese studies. When I first came and got the job, I had only planned on staying at most two or three years, but now I’ve realized the need to continue my studies, whereas before I would always tell my dad a Master’s isn’t necessary for what I want to do, which was just journalism at the time. Living in China as an ABC has really sparked that passion in me to delve deeper into U.S.-China relations and aspire to be a “China expert,” or at least follow those out there now, including many who appear on the Sinica podcast. So I’ll stay probably until the end of this year, but you’ll definitely find me back here eventually.