The Problem With Little White Girls (and Boys): Why I Stopped Being a Voluntourist

And this is far more interesting than I thought, thanks to my classmate’s recommendation.

Pippa Biddle

White people aren’t told that the color of their skin is a problem very often. We sail through police check points, don’t garner sideways glances in affluent neighborhoods, and are generally understood to be predispositioned for success based on a physical characteristic (the color of our skin) we have little control over beyond sunscreen and tanning oil.

After six years of working in and traveling through a number of different countries where white people are in the numerical minority, I’ve come to realize that there is one place being white is not only a hindrance, but negative –  most of the developing world.

Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania. Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania.

In high school, I travelled to Tanzania as part of a school trip. There were 14 white girls, 1 black girl who, to her frustration, was called white by almost everyone we met in Tanzania, and a few teachers/chaperones…

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What’s next?

” The society is supposed to be the mirror to our individuality. Once we start to play the part as we are assign, most of the us will see more opportunities and weaknesses at the same time.” Zhou En Lai.

The above quote is one of my favorite quotes from former Chinese Premier, Zhou En Lai. His sights and opinions on how the Chinese government was truthful. However, I am not here to talk about how great this person is. I am here to ask the question: What’s the next step for Chinese society? In other words, what will happen to the Chinese government?

Last night, as I tuned in the Chinese news, I was dumbfounded by what I read. ” The massacre happened this morning, at least 29 people died and 149 people wounded.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  As I kept on reading further,  there was a stabbing rampage in one of the famous Chinese cities yesterday morning at a local train station. According to the local official’s release press, 10 attackers were from the Xin Jiang Region. They were black masks as the one you would see in the movie “V for Vendetta” Each of them carried one and two sharp weapon. They started to attack the witnesses and the onlookers at the train station without any reasons. By interviewing the witnesses at the scene, people were scared and terrified by those assailant.  Until this morning, the KunMing official made formal announcement to confirm that 29 people were dead at the scene, 149 people were physically wounded. The police shot 5 of the attackers on the spot. There was only one escaped before the police’s arrival.

I couldn’t help asking this question :what’s happening to Chinese society today? To tell the truth, this is not the first  time similar incident happened. October of 2012,  a suicide bomber went inside the Beijing International Airport. He demanded to see the mayor of the city. Without being granted his request, he ignited the bomb in his bag and killed himself. Luckily, there was no wounded victims, except for some minor damages on the buildings. I believe it is crucial to ask the question what will happen to Chinese society next?

Through glancing through the Chinese media, most of the Bloggers are referring to this incident as ” the breakthrough for Chinese civil society.” One of the Bloggers wrote ( after translating into English): This is normal. Chinese society is getting way more complicated. It is getting harder and harder to control the thoughts and actions on the people, let alone foreseeing the terrorists attack.  No matter how updated the social policy will be, it is rather challenging to quench the desire in humans. ” After reading this quote, I have to admit that this Blogger is partially right. Chinese society is getting more and more complicated. The human needs are increasing. Chinese people are getting more and more educated through many ways. Some people think it is a promising phenomenon, others disagree that knowing too much would cause the public to be more rebellious.

No matter which side is right, the core is whether Chinese social policy will satisfy the needs of the people. In other words, there must be some reasons to “motivate” the attackers to take actions, or “bring out the revenge upon the innocent people.” Most people would ask the question : if Communist were the effective leading channel, how could people are still unhappy about the current? Well, let me tell you the truth: Communist belief is past tense.  It malfunctions today.  Mao’s period is gone.  Communist Party Leaders are leading the paths of the public. However, it is the path which none of us know where it is going.  I am not sure how many of you are familiar with the Chinese author called ” Yu Hua.” His famous novels are” to live”, ” Brothers”, are the best resources to know what happened to China in the past 100 years and what’s happening at this moment.

I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to Chinese society next. When I see the numbers of dead and the wounded people, all I could think was the guarantee of safety and the promises of the reliability were pure bullshit. If I were the family members of the victims,  instead of getting the compensation, I would like to know the answer why this happened today.

In the end, I ask all of you to pray for those families who lost their loved ones in this incident. Meanwhile, please pray for the Chinese society that Communist Party Members need to wake up and start to listen to the voices of us.

Pray for the victims
Pray for the victims

Praise the Lord and pass the beer, change is brewing among American Christians

CNN Belief Blog

By Brett McCracken, special to CNN

(CNN) — Something is brewing among American Protestants, and it has a decidedly hoppy flavor.

For much of the last century in the United States, Protestant Christianity’s relationship with beer was cold or even hostile at times. Protestant organizations such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League led the campaign to make alcohol illegal.

Even after Prohibition ended, many evangelicals defined themselves by their abstention from alcohol, called “the beloved enemy” by televangelist Jack Van Impe.

Drinking was, and in many cases still is, outlawed on Christian college campuses and among leadership of many churches and denominations.

But in recent years, change has been fermenting. Taverns and beer halls, once dismissed as the domain of the “worldly” in need of reform, are today the meeting places for churches

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The Silent Message

A large driving force behind creating this series was actually less about affecting the gay community directly, and more about giving the general population a way to relate to gay imagery which is devoid of sex, victimization, or banality – themes that might usually prevent some folks from connecting,” writes Summers. “The photographs are not documentations, they are dreamy illustrations of what open expressions of love in different cultures *could* look like in the future, more accepting time.” says Braden Summers, who is New York-based photographer and visual artist. Summers travels around the world to capture the special moments that inspires him one way or another.

I never had the opportunity to meet Summer. However, by reading his blog as well as looking at the pictures he took over the years, there is something inside of me making me feel different about his photos. After thinking and examining his pictures for a while, I begin to understand what Summers is trying to present to the viewers — The Silent Message.

As the communication student, over the years, we learned so much about various theories from the courses.We train people how to be presentable in public speaking, we coach the students on the concept of media connection, even we travel to other countries to reach the unreachable groups to tell them about Entertainment Education. Without thinking, people tend to assume that communication is all about using the words. In general, majority of the public believes that communication is the field where people use words to make others feel better. I have to clarify here one more time: Communication is a broad professional study. There is a huge difference between Communication Scholarship and delivering the messages.

equal-braden-summers-6

Certainly, another form of communication is non-verbal, such as what Summers does. Using the photos to send the messages to the people who are interested. Summers emphasizes that “photos has the power to tell the stories. Looking for emotional connection with strangers. Photos can transform the relationship from one phase to another.” Like the opening quote, Summers uses his camera to take pictures of romantic relationship/ intimate moments among gay community. Summers travels to allow the public to identify the new meaning of “love” from different angle. Come to think of it, everywhere we go, we always see the heterosexual couples are walking around. Their eye contact, their verbal communication shows their passion and dedication in the relationship. Meanwhile, we ought to know the love and the passion among gay community members should not be ignorant. They are here and everywhere.

gay-couples-all-love-is-equal-braden-summers-1

One of the advantages of using photos is offering the rooms to the viewers in term of their imagination. What we see through our eyes might not match what truly happens in reality. Summers’ pictures on the  homosexual couples display the silent love from another group. They deserve the same amount of honor and attention as the normal couples do. By looking at the photos carefully, the smiles in the pictures, the struggles on their faces, the bonding between two partners are shown by each image in front of us.

Pictures have tremendous power. Whenever people organize a protest or advocate for the unfairness, they ought to know photos might be the best voice of all. The silent message will become the voice of many.

The Summer Photos

Distance Friendship

B-day from Google

Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for coming to my birthday celebration this evening and I am honored to have all of you to come here to celebrate this important day with me.  Two days before my birthday, my roommate Tao thought it would be a great idea if I made a speech on this occasion.  As you might know, my major is communications. We tend to be the “long-winded” speakers from time to time. So, I asked Tao, ” how  long should I talk?”  Without missing a beat, Tao said to me, ” Mengfei.  It will be the night about you. You can talk as long as you want. But we are leaving at 10pm.” So, I will try to keep this short tonight. I promise we will be out of here before tomorrow morning newspaper arrival.

Once I heard someone saying: The old believe everything. The middle-aged suspect everything and the young know everything. I have to admit that I agree with this saying partially. I think the young  know something, not everything. Just last week, I tried to make the Chinese dumpling at  home. Little did I know, it was harder than writing the dissertation. I still couldn’t believe a young, good-looking Chinese person like me failed at the dumpling-making class.  I bet my mom and dad will laugh so hard once they find out.

Tonight, it is going to be a special night for me. Because it is my Birthday. At the same time, it it’s also the anniversary for my parents. They have been married more than 28 years. Happy Anniversary, mom and dad! I would like to say a few things about them. First of all, I am being grateful that my parents supported me all those years while I am studying in the US. While I was little, I was raised and disciplined by my parents’ rules. I longed for the freedom to live  on my own. I always thought about the days my parents let me go and I knew I would be on cloud nine. However, after moving to US. I guess I am wrong. I miss my  parents greatly. I wish they could be here on this special occasion. Thanks to their guidance and relentless nagging, I am able to stand firm when I face obstacles. I am able to tell the right from wrong. Tonight, I realize they didn’t want to give me a hard time. All they were doing with me  during the time of my growth was to prepare me to be a real man later on.

Second, I am being thankful that my friend Bill Smith is here. As a matter of fact, Bill Smith is one of my best friends in US.  Former US President Ronald Reagan used to say : a real friend is someone walks in when rest of the world walks out. I believe Bill is the person who walks in, no matter what happens to me. We have known each other over 10 years. There is so much to share with everyone about our stories. I will never forget the moments he and I met each other in an English Summer Camp in Beijing, China.  He was the English teacher and I was his assistant. I will never forget Bill shared with me his personal testimony  on how God changed his life over the years. He was the believer of Jesus and I had faith in Bill’s stories. I will never forget that Bill drove 8 hours to attend my college graduation in 2011. He was ” my biggest fan” and I was his pride. Over the years, our friendship never  go away. His son, Nathan, always says to his father, ” Dad. You are just like Chinaman ( which is me). You two could put on a play and make everyone laugh.” So, I want to give special thanks to Bill. Thank you for teaching me and pushing me to become a better person.

Lastly, I want to extend my appreciation to the people who are here tonight. Thank you for coming and being here.   That truly means a lot to me when I see all the smiling faces at this moment. I know Regent University doesn’t have a lot of international students here on campus. For those of us who are here, it is unlikely to have so many friends remember our birthdays. People always question me why I chose Regent University for my Master Degree.  Every time, I am confident and proud to tell them there are two reasons. First of all, Regent University is one of the greatest schools in US which is equipped with cutting-edge facilities in teaching Communications. I couldn’t give a second thought on choosing it. Second, Regent University is a Christian school. Since  I came to US for education, the Lord blessed me in many ways. I always had the desire to be part of the Christian school where my faith will be strengthened and challenged.  The minute I graduate from school, I shall be ready to embark on the new journey waiting for me. I was made in the image of the Lord and I am called to be more than a conqueror.

In the end, I would like to say : thank you for your listening and your presence. Please have fun tonight and let’s celebrate this day together!

Mengfei Li

What’s the Social Media?

” Yo, please remember to facebook me when you get home.”  Or “what are you talking about?! I just twittered it!” I bet those are the things you hear very often among the public these days. When I was exposed to Facebook or Twitter, Linked-in, the whole time I thought those are the names of the company. Today, if we look carefully and listen carefully, facebook, twitter or myspace are the popular “verbs” people use on the daily basis. Here is the question that we never ask ourselves : what’s the social media? How can the social media just takes over our lives?

Social Media Bomb

 

According to the survey done by Brown & Fraser Research in 2005, there 579 participants were invited to answer the questions on the functions and the importance of social media in the life of individuality.  After answering the questions by filling out survey, the results were rather surprising. One thing we ought to bear in mind that social media might not be as popular as it is today back in 2005.  Dr. William Brown found out that ” on average, one person did 21 times on the social media sites in a week.  At the same time,  on average, one person talked to 9 people about what they saw on the social media sites in a day.  etc.” By looking at the numbers and reading the survey analysis in depth. It is more obvious to see that people are spending more time on social media sites on the daily basis. Not long ago, one of my college friends just got hired by Twitter. When I asked him how he got hired by the famous company,  his answer was much jaw-dropping. He told me, ” well, I just twittered my stuff every 5 minutes.  The minute I woke up and the moment before going to bed, I always used my phone, PC to twitter about anything I found. One day, I got a call and the next thing you know. I am employed. My job is to twitter about things for the public. I am getting paid to do this.” Just that easy?! Apparently, it is easier to get a job if you are a social media maniac.

The point I am trying to make is the communication channel shifts among humans. Let me ask you this question: when was the last time you talk to someone face-to- face on a very sincere and meaningful topic? I guess you are saying to me ” well, I don’t know. I don’t have time for that. If they need my help. They can find me on Facebook.” Friends, it is okay for put the phone or the PC aside for a second. On one hand, it is true that we need to get ” connected” with the world. We ought to be quick to answer and fast enough to respond through technological innovations, however, we can’t afford to  lose the chances to make friends with people. Or  the last thing we want is to ignore the valuable time with someone we truly care. Very often, I hear people saying to me : I don’t like getting emails when I am in a meeting. or I can’t be away from my phone for 6 seconds, or someone will need me.

We are living in a busy world. It is true that we can be helpful to someone in life. But how much time do we give to ourselves? This summer, two of my professors from school are flying to Italy with their spouses. When I asked them the reasons to go.  ” To simplify my life. We are going to get ” unplugged” with the social media.” I was very touched by their intentions. I can’t even remember when the last I shut off my phone and didn’t plan to see the email for the whole day. Try it and you will notice how much we have been ” controlled or dominated” by the social media. Remember: we are the ones who invented them. Don’t allow them to manipulate us.