“Tax the rich, end the wars, and restore honest and effective government for all”, Jeffrey Sachs [Munk, 2013].

Tax is often considered a dirty word by enterprises. In fact, tax should be celebrated. The business case for tax is that revenue can be invested in public services and infrastructure – both of which are necessary for a healthy, well-educated workforce, to attract investment, and for growth.

A couple of months ago I spent some time in Uganda, working with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). A conversation with Jane Nalunga – who works for an NGO named SEATINI Uganda – made me realise that international tax policies are unfair towards developing countries, such as Uganda, where tax revenue is much needed. Especially in my own country of birth – The Netherlands – tax rules are allowing multinationals to get away with tax avoiding practices, on a big scale.

The Netherlands is a Tax Haven

Thousands of international firms are currently guilty of legal tax avoiding practices. In the Netherlands alone, there are more than 14.000 firms set up with the intention to avoid taxes in the country of operation. [OxfamNovib, 2016].

Developing countries tend to be the hardest hit by tax avoidance by multinational corporations, as developing countries tend to be more reliant on corporate tax than developed countries.

Currently, developing countries are losing a shocking amount of around €460 million annually due to tax evasion via the Netherlands. And more than 100 billion annually is lost through tax evasion worldwide [OxfamNovib, 2016]. It is likely that these numbers are even higher as many companies have not disclosed their information. It is currently impossible to know exactly how much money ‘disappears’ by tax evasion, which is exactly why governments should establish international rules that require companies to provide such disclosure.

The Netherlands is no small player. ‘De Volkskrant’ reported in 2014 that there is no other country where such large amount of money has been being funnelled for tax reasons than the Netherlands. For example, the 500 largest US companies – the Fortune 500 – had made investments worth 127 billion dollars by December 31, 2010. 93 billion of this travelled through tax friendly Netherlands. The Netherlands seemed much more popular than notorious tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Knowing this, the PVV (Dutch Party of Freedom) – supported by other political parties such as the VVD and PvdA – rejected a motion which urged the government to qualify the Netherlands as a tax haven. As soon as the government stops denying the problem, we can start to solve it.

Double Tax Treaties

SEATINI-Uganda published a paper in collaboration with Action Aid on Double Taxation Treaties (DTTs) in Uganda in 2014 [SEATINI-Uganda, ActionAid, 2014]. According to this paper, “the network of DTTs is one of the mechanisms used by companies to avoid paying taxes, leading to illicit financial flows and tax losses for Uganda”. Multinational companies are known to set up a subsidiary in a conduit country only to avoid being taxed in the country of operation. This way profit ends up in developed countries, with minimal tax payed in the countries of operation. This phenomena is known as profit shifting. In Uganda many treaties have been signed following a model treaty that was developed by the OECD countries. Unfortunately, those treaties favour OECD countries, rather than developing countries. In developing the new policy on negotiation of DTTs, Uganda could draw on examples of treaties that have gone beyond the UN model – like the ones developed in the Andean region in Latin America [SEATINI-Uganda, ActionAid, 2014].

Renegotiation of DTTs will be a step toward a shift from the current tax policy that continuously adds more taxes to the ordinary citizens who struggle to make ends meet, and will make an end to illicit financial flows and tax losses for countries such as Uganda [SEATINI-Uganda, ActionAid, 2014].

Tax the rich

Transparency on national, regional and local budgets, and on spending and accountability should be encouraged in developing countries. However in order to solve tax evasion, corruption, and fraud, an international approach is needed. Northern governments should reconsider their policies, to ensure that politicians, wealthy individuals and (large) companies operating in developing countries have no opportunity to use countries like the Netherlands to launder their money and / or to evade tax.

Even billionaires and millionaires themselves are convinced that extreme inequality in the world is a big problem. This problem is unlikely to be solved with philanthropic contributions, but rather by greater changes in policy. In the US there is a group called the patriotic millionaires who actively lobby towards the Congress to avoid tax exemptions for the extremely wealthy. They wrote: “in the interest of all our fellow citizens, we ask you tax on income above raise $ 1,000,000” [The Patriotic Millionaires, 2016].

Race to the bottom

One of the main problems is that too many countries want to attract foreign investment. If a company finds out that is could pay lower wages or lower tax elsewhere, it might go off. The Netherlands believes that their tax policies are bringing in money. However, what is often forgotten, is that a lot of tax avoiding companies which funnel money to the Netherlands, also pay too little tax in the Netherlands, which is costing the Netherlands around 5.5 billion euros.

In order to avoid this, The Netherlands could support a European plan to limit tax competition in Europe. Furthermore, it is desirable to see agreements between the Dutch Tax and international companies disclosed.

The European Commission has recently renewed the debate on the desirability of a EU common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) as an EU priority put on the agenda in 2015. A concrete proposal of the European Commission can be expected this month.

Concluding Remarks

In its current policy framework the Netherlands should be classified as a tax haven. More importantly, all governments – including the Netherlands – could make tax laws more fair in order for international companies to pay tax in the country of operation, and in order to reduce inequality. Furthermore, international rules should be implemented which require companies to provide disclosure and which prevent illicit flows of money between countries.

A tax race is a race to the bottom and this should be avoided by international collaboration. Furthermore, developing countries cannot be further marginalised in negotiations, collaborations and other global processes. In order for developing countries to benefit from multinational companies operating in their country, it would be highly desirable to see issues related to DTT’s and tax avoiding practices included on the agendas of politicians worldwide.

References

Munk, N. (2013) ‘The idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the quest to end poverty.’ Signal.

OxfamNovib (2016) ‘Nederland Belasting Paradijs’. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.oxfamnovib.nl/Redactie/Downloads/Rapporten/Nederland_belastingparadijs.pdf [Accessed 07 September 2016].

SEATINI-Uganda, ActionAid (2014) ‘Double Taxation Treaties in Uganda – Impact and Policy Implications, (Kampala: SEATINI-Ugana).

The Patriotic Millionaires (2016) ‘The Patriotic Millionaires.’ [ONLINE] Available at: http://patrioticmillionaires.org/. [Accessed 07 September 2016].

 

Published in 2013

This is an interesting account of Jeffrey Sach’s implementation of the Millenium Development Villages project. It is fascination to read about Sach’s determination to get things done, his way to deal with issues, and his interaction with leaders like Museveni in Uganda. It is not easy to put this one down once you start reading as so many problems are encountered and it is impossible to stop reading without finding out how they are solved, or whether they can be solved in the first place. Without a doubt, it shows that it does not only take money to move third world villages onto the development ladder.

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Today three volunteers of our Challenges Worldwide Community Action Day (CAD) Committee accompanied me to a meeting at the Busega Muslim Girls Primary School. The meeting took place with a number of chiefs of the Wakiso districts and with the Kampala Capital City Association (KCCA). This Saturday the KCCA will be organising a ‘Go Green’ Community Clean up day, on which the community is to clean the garbage of the street. Furthermore they will be offering free medical check ups on that day. An estimation of around 500 comunity members were encouraged to join the clean up of 9 different districts in Wakiso.kampala - 2 (1)

Apart from participating with the KCCA to clean the streets and offer medical check ups by Buganda Bulungi Bwansi, CWW is planning to add two more activities: tree planting and basic business training seminars for CBOs (community-based organisations)

Through participating in this Community Action Day, Challenges Worldwide aims to encourage sustainable business and to support CBOs in Wakiso and to promote long-term environmental consciousness in the community by helping in both tree planting and street cleaning.

Read More →

“Development in human society is a many-sided process. At the level of the individual, it implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being.”

This weeks meeting was at Centenary Park in a lounge with a thatched roof surrounded by a gardened area. Today, not only did the volunteers of the CAD committee share their kampala - 1 (1) copyplans for our Community Action Day for next Saturday, but there was also a vote for our Mid Programme Review. The options were to go to Queen Elisabeth Park or to visit the Murchison Falls, which are both stunning national parks with a wide variety of wildlife. Exciting!

After sitting down with all of the committees we had the pleasure to welcome Camille Marie-Regnault. Camille took part in an ICS – VSO programme in Kenya a couple of years ago, worked for the UN in Cambodia and then ended up back on the African continent to work with Invisible Children (IC).

Invisible Children is active in breaking up a rebel group named Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – responsible for Africa’s longest running armed conflict. After sharing the history of this long lasting conflict, I would like to show you how Invisible Children is contributing to ending it, and discuss what more could be done. To end this blog, as Camille has lived and worked in cross-cultural environments – including with the ICS programme – I would like to share a couple of her tips with (future) volunteers and travelers. Read More →

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This weeks team meeting was organised to take place at the one of the businesses Challenges Worldwide works with, Coffee Quality Assurance (CQA). Their inviting Coffee House – named MyCheckMate is located within the Kyambago University campus in Kampala and was an inspiringkampala - 1 (1) copy location for our weekly meeting. A chance for everyone to try a cup of their delicious premium My CheckMate Coffee in the shape of an espresso, latte, cappuccino or Americano. I asked for a drop of hot milk in my espresso, which created an exemplary Spanish ‘Cortado’. Apart from Coffee, they sell sodas, juice and local food to up to 25 people at any time. The CEO and owner, Tonny, made arrangements to host and feed our team of 35 volunteers. They had come up with 4 different menu options beforehand in order to make the right preparations. Options included chips, omelette, beef, salad, peas/beans, rice, matooke, pocho, and some – to my taste – delicious chicken.

Read More →

IMG_2071“Tax the rich, end the wars, and restore honest and effective government for all”, Jeffrey Sachs [Munk, 2013].

Every Monday Challenges Worldwide (CWW) arranges a team meeting for all the CWW volunteers in Uganda. This allows CWW to discuss common issues and difficulties, to highlight important aspects of the programme yet to come, to check whether the volunteers are on track with their deliverables, and to go through budgets and stipends. Furthermore, the meeting includes a session of Chartered Management Institute (CMI) training, and it gives opportunity to invite guest speakers.

This week Jane Nalunga from SEATINI-Uganda (the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute) joined the meeting to discuss with us the linkages between trade, investment agreements, policies, and local businesses.

Read More →

After celebrating Easter at a local Church, I was keen to learn more about the meaning of religion in Uganda. Eddie – my Ugandan counterpart – asked me to accompany him to his community’s Church on the 3rd of April. Luckily Eddie had warned me that I was to introduce myself in front of the group, so I had the time to practice on the way there to introduce myself in Luganda! This was very much appreciated. I was received with great joy. The locals seem to be really happy when they do not have to communicate in English. This Church – “Kira Ekanisa” – was colourful, joyful, there was lots of singing and even some dancing.

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Preaching was mostly done in Luganda and other tribal languages, and translated into English. This Church was a lot smaller than the one I visited during Easter, it seemed like everybody knew each other. It was so nice to see how  Read More →

Before heading to Uganda I expected to be eating a lot of rice, vegetables and fruit. One thing I was right about, rice. A lot of it. Delicious moist Basmati rice, prepared often with finely cut tomato and onion. Fruit, yes. Bananas and Matooke (Green Bananas). Often we eat bananas for breakfast, with bread or with Chapati (wheat flower pancake, made with spring onion and carrot). For Lunch and dinner the dishes are quite similar to each other. Usually a combination of: rice, pumpkin, different versions of Matooke, spagetti, beans, Irish Potato, cabbage salad, avocado ground nut sauce (the pink sauce on the Matooke, which has a similar taste to Indonesian peanut sauce). Meat that accompanies the carb rich meals is usually fried or cooked beef or chicken. Funny enough, avocados just grow everywhere. Large avocados. And to my great surprise chicken is more expensive than beef in Uganda.

I buy a fresh mango off one of the street vendors now and then on the way somewhere, just to fill up on a different kind of fruit then the common banana. Read More →

Today was a very special day. It was the day on which the UK volunteers arrived in Uganda, and met their Ugandan counterpart. The Ugandan volunteers had been preparing and practicing a welcome feast, which included a poster, a speech, a Luganda language lesson, solo singing and of course, a traditional and free style dance show, in which we all joined in.

Preparations for the welcome show were very amusing. What laughs we had while trying to plan a dance! After lots of bum shaking, and helping to get all the Ugandan girls colour coordinated for their performance, they helped me to just look just as colourful, and about 10 years younger.

The next day, when I asked one of the In-Country volunteers whether he had spoken to all of the UK one’s yet, he replied:

“It would have been a crime if I hadn’t”.

It is wonderful to see how two such different cultures are interacting and how everyone is getting along. Clearly there are some things we have in common, the boys are all playing football (yes, in this hot climate!), while the girls are all getting their nails done. More of this please! So happy!

Tulimu Ekanisa [we are going to Church]

Good Morning! Happy Easter! As of Easter Weekend, the In-Country volunteers (ICV’s) were very keen to go to Church. Challenges Worldwide compromised by changing the training timetable and therefore anyone who was interested could attend service today from 9h to 11h. We decided to accompany the ICV’s to experience Easter celebrations in Uganda. Although from a non-religious background, I believe in doing good and in being optimistic and happy, as church promotes this in Uganda, I shall swing and sing along.

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About a week after I had moved into the host home  (together with the other Team Leaders: Donia, Aubrey and Eddie) we moved to a place called Peace Cottages. This venue offers rooms for our big team and has a lovely thatched conference space which we used to subsequently be introduced to the In-Country Volunteers, train them for a few days, welcome the UK Volunteers, introduce all of them to their room-mates, colleagues and businesses, and do lots of team building activities. It is here where we will all get to know each other and where we can acclimatise to the new environment together. Our host, which was called mama or aunty by some and sister by others, was a wonderful cheerful local lady, who was very helpful throughout the week. I shall miss her cheerfulness…

Donia and I shared a room. The cold shower at our host home suddenly became a luxury when we found out that Peace Cottages only had a drip shower. We would fill up a bucket and splash that on our heads. Apart from that, there was no air movement, so we used to call the room a ‘sweat box’ and developed several methods for cooling down, including wet old T-shirts on our heads, lying on the bed with our legs up onto the wall, and looking at pictures of frost in England.

During our training we managed to write up a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for them, so that they can improve their business. This was a great analytical tool practice for the volunteers, to apply to the businesses they will be working at. Read More →

These couple of days we have used to acclimatise a bit, to learn about the programme and to visit some of the Host Homes and Businesses that we will be working with. This took us to some incredible parts of Kampala. I love how varied, lively and green this city is.  And busy!

kampala

Topica we discussed with our fellow In-Country Team Leaders included slums IMG_1467and the elections. I wil soon write a blog post on both. It is really nice to have a Ugandan Counterpart, it is great that we can just ask them anything. Even after a few days I feel like I have known them for months!

Our biggest challenge was to match the volunteers with their Host-Homes and Businesses. We pinned the locations on a map and wrote all the names of the Businesses and Volunteers on pieces of paper so that we could move them around and pin them all to a Yoga mat, where else? On the photo on the right you can see us in action. 

While working on this, there was an Easter celebration next door. I really enjoyed the singing, so when I got the chance I sneaked out and filmed some of it.

Hours after our arrival at Entebbe Airport, Challenges Worldwide had arranged to drop Donia and I off at our new home. For convenience, the four Team Leaders were to share a home, and so we were well aware and so happy that we were about to meet the two In-Country Team leaders. We were welcomed by the home owner Sham (who also happens to run a bar/restaurant called ‘Terracotta” at the property), IMG_1370Project Coordinator Marcel, and Eddie & Aubry, our Ugandan counterpart. Musula Mutya! [how are you all?]. Bulungi [good], Webaale [thank you].

Photo left to right: Donia, Aubry and Eddie.

Both Marcel and Eddie had worked with Challenges Worldwide before, as volunteers, whereas Aubry immediately went for the Team Leader position, so brave. I have to admit I felt a bit strange arriving without luggage. I felt like I needed a shower and get into some clean clothes,  but as there was no running water, that was not an option anyway. Luckily I had with me a clean pair of underwear and an extra ICS – Challenges Worldwide T-shirt. What else do you need?! Well…. I have to admit that I was VERY happy when my luggage arrived the next day evening.

I am also happy to share that I have learned to wash my hair with water from a jerry-can, but I am also rather pleased  that the water system is working now.

Below you can find some photos of our new home for the coming 3 months. It is a convenient and rather smart looking unit. Cannot believe I may call this home.  En Suula Bulungi! [Good night!].

I can still not believe that I am in Uganda. I am finally in Africa!

Over the last 5 days I have traveled from Guernsey, through France, Belgium and the Netherlands to Germany to visit my mother who was a weekend away, back to the Netherlands to drop off my dog, to see dad, to repack, and then traveled to Amsterdam, where I had to say goodbye to Patrick – the one who has been so incredibly supportive during my preparations, and who I will miss most. I hate goodbye’s. From the Amsterdam Airport I flew to London, where I met up with Donia (my fellow UK Team Leader) Hello Donia!!! and together we flew from London to Dubai, and from Dubai to Entebbe, only to discover that I had lost my luggage somewhere on the way.

I filled out the luggage claim forms at the airport, accompanied by a guy from Uganda who I met in the airportbus named Myco Chris – who happened to be a celebrity – and who had also lost his luggage, along with 20 others. Nadina, our regional manager, was outside waiting for us, together with mr Kai, the driver. As I had already been in contact with Nadina before arrival, it was lovely to finally meet her. She seems dedicated, efficient, knows her way around very well and looks like she is possessed by happiness. I love spending time with happy people, who doesn’t?

After the pickup we drove to the nearest mall to register our new sim cards. This only took two hours, and provided us with a special gift – a little necklace with a picture of the pope on it. Weebale Nyo! [Thank you very much]

On our way to our new home we got stuck in the same traffic that Nadina had already been stuck in on the way to the airport. Traffic is mad in Uganda. I am sure everyone is supposed to drive on the left, but I am seeing Mutatu’s (mini van taxi’s), motor bikes and other traffic everywhere. While the driver was trying to keep moving forward, I was very busy observing Ugandan life in and around the traffic.

My first impressions are somewhat as I had imagined: hot, chaotic, friendly people, motorcycles transporting everything from hundreds of eggs pilled up to entire pigs, I see lively people and colours, pickup trucks filled with riffled soldiers, smells of barbecue, and women with beautiful hair, wearing colourful fabric, who are wagging along the road, showing off their stunning figures.

Somehow these roads reminds me of the busy straight roads in Cambodia, surrounded by green, shops on both sides, people walking around, many people, busy people, and honking traffic.

In my next post I will tell you all about meeting the two In-Country Team Leaders (ICTL’s) and my new home for the coming 3 months!

I do not know where to start. Preparations for departure basically already began back in November. Dedicating myself to this volunteer project meant for example that I was to find a short term job in Guernsey, and that I had to fly to Barcelona to move out of my apartment. From that moment on, I went through different stages of concern, and (mostly) excitement. I have to admit that it is really quite a challenge to make arrangements while working a nine to five. Everything is open while I am at work, and once I am off, its all closed! I have often wondered how others get things done this way. Well, my theory is that if you run fast enough, you can get it all done in your breaks, spread over weeks 🙂

A couple of things were particularly important to start arranging early on, like the visa and the vaccinations. In my case I had to fly to London to apply for a new passport. When I received my new passport I sent it off to the visa application office via the post. Vaccinations, wow, needed quite a few of them! So the rest of my running in my breaks had to be done with two pinched arms. Vaccinations include: Mengingitis, Yellow Fever, Typhoid and Rabies. Luckily I am already immune to Hep A&B, diphtheria, Tetanus, and Polio. Apart from these vaccinations I was recommended by the nurse to take two Cholera drinks and to bring Malaria pills for 99 days. Quite something! I was very lucky that the Guernsey state covers the costs of the vaccinations, as it is for a Charitable cause. Lucky lucky! Thank you Guernsey!

While arranging the important stuff, it has been inspiring to read bits and pieces of books and watch documentary’s about the people and culture of Uganda. You must have heared of “The last King of Schotland”, and for example a documentary called “Virunga” are very good to watch. Books I have looked at include “ABYSSINIAN CHRONICLES”, BY MOSES ISEGAWA, “Uganda Now: Between Decay & Development”, edited by Holger Bernt Hansen & Michael Twaddle, and “Culture and Customs of Uganda”, by KEFA M. OTISO. There are also quite a few interesting articles out there based on World Bank research. I like to believe that the more I read the better my understanding will be. Do you have any more recommendations? Please share in the comments!

Apart from doing my own research, I have been offered a sea of information through ICS and Challenges Worldwide, about the project, security, team leading etc. After our pre-departure training I printed most of the important slides and fitted them in my filofax, and saved the other files on iBooks in order to be able to access them from anywhere. My Filofax also contains weekly planners, so that I can keep track of all the other volunteers, some lists to write down goals, concerns, to do’s, idea’s for activities, etc., and bits and pieces of Luganda and Swahili language, accompanied by my notes on culture. After wrestling my way through, and organising a pile of exciting information, it has just come down to packing my things, so I better get started!

Today I received a surprise package, containing ….  T-shirts! YAAY! I am now visibly part of the ICS/Challenges Worldwide team, and ready to “Challenge myself to change the world”, how about you?

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I consider myself quite a happy person, but I am not often thís excited. Pre-departure training not only meant that I would get to learn the ins and outs of being a Team Leader in Uganda, but also that I would finally get to meet my trainers, fellow Team Leader, and our ‘Children! And all of that while visiting Edinburgh, which is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

First of all I would like to agree that Edinburgh is indeed pretty stunning. Edinburgh has a great atmosphere and beautiful architecture. We do not always appreciate how lucky we are to have a visible history and culture in all parts of Europe, but thinking of countries like China – where the Cultural Revolution destroyed much of the visible culture and history – I feel very fortunate to have seen just a little more of Europe.

On Monday afternoon, when trying to leave Guernsey, it was completely covered in fog. As delays were announced I realised again how tricky it can be to live on a small island. After a 9 hour trip, which took me passed Jersey and Birmingham, I arrived at the pre-booked hostel around midnight. The hostel was located near Haymarket Station, on walking distance from the old town. It was here where I had the pleasure to meet my fellow Team Leader, Donia, who had also just arrived from a long train ride – from London. Remember Donia, you will hear a lot more about her! Not long after sharing our travel stories we joined the other 10 smelly sleepers in the dorm.

Before leaving on my trip, many people had said: “I could think of better places to be in February”, well, the next morning I woke up to a bright blue sky, but I kind of get the point now, it was absolutely freezing! Not cold enough to spoil the fun though.  I dragged Donia out of her bed down to the cafe and grabbed my chance to get to know edinburgh - 3her a bit while having breakfast. It did not take me long to realise that we would become a miraculous team :). After breakfast we picked up our (very thick) coats to face the Scottish weather, as we had to walk for at least 50 yards. The head office of Challenges Worldwide was literally two doors away. Their building has high ceilings, big windows with a full view of St. Mary’s Cathdral, and it has a very relaxed and welcoming feel to it, as if you walk into granny’s living room. I can still not comprehend how beautiful their old wooden stairs are.

We were welcomed by Nicola and Georgia, our dedicated trainers, who taught us about our role as a Team Leader, our responsibilities, about how to support volunteers, and how to manage conflict. At this point Im am feeling happy that the main focus of the edinburgh - 5program is on cultural exchange, something I am particularly interested in.

Highlight of the day, meeting Eoghan Mackie – the CEO of Challenges Worldwide – who mildly expressed his views on International Development, and who took us on a first class journey through Challenges Worldwide and their effect on developing marketplaces. Eoghan has recently been invited to speak at the 3rd Annual Commonwealth Africa SUMMIT, alongside over 18 heads of State and Government. It was an honor to spend some (valuable) time with him.

Nicola and Georgia followed up with more video’s, case studies, and so on. In short, they gave structure to the big blur of information I was drowning in. I can now say that I am ready for this job, and that I am confident enough to help the other volunteers to make the best out of theirs.

After hours of absorbing as much information as we could, Donia and I strolled through the old parts of Edinburgh, in search for a good meal and a glass of wine. On our way there we realised that one of the volunteers, Justin, had arrived and he joined in.

The next morning was mainly focussed on disease and security protocols. This was not something I usually think about when waking up, but we covered quite a few topics that I was curious to learn more about. Later on we discussed facilitator skills and then, yes yes yes, we got to meet all the volunteers! So exciting! Meet our Children!

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This is the first photo of many others to come. A bunch of the volunteers I had already met during our assessment day, so it was really nice to see them again, and I have been able to have chats with almost all the others. It was a pleasure to spend some time with them and I am looking forward to more! I really had the feeling that this will become a fabulous team, and I hope they feel the same way. And now, I am ready to COUNTDOWN!!!! 22 more sleeps!!!

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 19.06.40While moving out of my flat in Barcelona I experienced many thoughts and feelings. Of course first of all it feels good to move on to the next adventure. However, Barcelona felt like home, it still does. I guess it becomes a mental thing when you move into your first home, YOUR home, only you. You do with it what you want, and you prohibit anything that you don’t want. It is hard to leave that behind.

My pain was relieved by the idea that I could be selling most of my personal belongings for a good cause – Challenges Worldwide.  Read More →

Published in 1998

I decided on this book knowing that I would be traveling to Uganda in March this year. Moses Isegawa (born 10 August 1963), is a Ugandan author.

His novels set against the political turmoil of Uganda, which he left in 1990 for the Netherlands. He became a naturalized Dutch citizen, only to return to live in Uganda in 2006. His novel, Abyssinian Chronicles, which was first published in Amsterdam in 1998, sold more than 100,000 copies. It was very well reviewed when published in English in the United Kingdom and the US.

The 2008 Mumbai Attacks

The attacks that hit Mumbai on November 26th, 2008 included a series of 12 highly coordinated and simultaneous bombing and shooting attacks in Mumbai, which lasted 4 days, caused 166 civilian victims and more than 600 injured. The attacks were carried out by 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an islamic militant organisation based in Pakistan.

Headlines on the attacks, such as ”Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks” (BBC, 2008a), and “At Least 100 Dead in India Terror Attacks” (The New York Times, 2008), indicate death and terror, but do not directly refer to ‘terrorists’ as the attackers. The BBC was almost immediately criticised for leaving out the word ‘terrorism’ in their release (BBC, 2008b).

This essay will analyse why this incident should be labeled as ‘terrorism’, using the twelve elements borrowed from Alex Schmid’s Academic Consensus Definition of terrorism. As this essay is of small scope the elements will be summarised in four sections, in which only the more thought-provoking elements will be reviewed in more depth.

Read More →

Swahili is a Bantu language, and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of Southeast Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As I will be voluteering in Uganda, I thought it would be interesting to learn bits and pieces of Swahili, even though English is their first language. So far I have learned only a couple of things like:

Samahani (excuse me)
Kiingereza (English)
Bwana (Sir)
Hapana (No)
Ndiyo (yes)
Wewe ni Marekani? (Are you American?)
Nafahamu Kiswahili kidogo (I know a bit of Swahili)
Sifahamu (I don’t know)

I also found a song that I really liked, called Jambo Bwana. It is a song of welcome from Eastern Africa, sung in Swahili. Jambo Bwana means ‘Hello friend!’  (You can learn it here).

Jambo, jambo bwana (Hello friend)
Habri gani?   (How are you?)
Nzuri sana  (Very fine)
Wageni (Visitors)
Mwakari-bishwa (You are welcome)
Afrika yetu (Our Africa)
Hakuna matata (There is no problem!)

Version 2
Last night I did some street fundraising on the late night shopping night in St. Peter Port in Guernsey.

Apart from receiving 73 pounds in cash donations (thank you Guernsey!) I had the chance raise awareness and help encourage others to volunteer through ICS.

– FOR SALE –
Two brand new and unused dog crates.
The entire amount will go straight to charity.

This activity is part of my plan to raise 1500 pounds to support the development projects of Challenges Worldwide. I am selling a Small and Medium sized one, for a reasonable price. Please send your bid to (+44) 07781437400.

 

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In case you do not want a dog crate, but just want to help me to make a difference, you can donate to Challenges Worldwide via my online fundraising page. Thank you for your support. Your contribution will make a real difference to the lives of the less privileged.

https://www.justgiving.com/schouwenburg

Only just after sharing Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 22.17.36my fundraising page on social media, generous friends and family have started to support ChallengesWorldwide though donations on my Justgiving page. If we keep going this speed, we will reach the sustainable development goals by the end of this year!

Thank you everyone for you support to an amazing charity. I hope that by following this blog you will feel closely involved with the Charity you are investing in.

Today I ordered my ‘fundraising cards’. This will make it easier for people to remember and visit my online fundraising website: www.justgiving.com/schouwenburg

Apart from online fundraising I will be involved in various other fundraising activities, like a tennis ball guessing contest, and a winter dip into the sea. It would be real nice if you could make a small donation just so that I wont be counting hundreds of tennis balls, and diving into the sea in the middle of December for no reason!

I am pleased to announce that the International Citizen Service (ICS) has offered me the chance to put my Masters into action by sending me off to Africa. ICS – a British organisation known for bringing young people together to fight poverty – has set me up with this amazing charity called Challenges Worldwide.

In March next year I will be traveling with this charity to Uganda as a Team Leader for one of their development programmes. I will be taking 10 business orientated volunteers along with me who will be supporting local businesses in Uganda. Together we will help them strengthen their skills and abilities, grow, generate income, and develop in a fair an sustainable way.

Challenges Worldwide has over 15 years of experience and has successfully assisted hundreds of organisations in more than 40 countries. Will you help me sustain their programme, so they can continue to make an impact? Your contribution will make a real difference to the lives of people in developing countries. Thank you for your support!

Make your donation at: www.justgiving.com/schouwenburg

Today I marched (from Park Lane to Parliament Square) to show support for refugees. It was important to show support for positive change at this moment as Theresa May will be present at a meeting of the EU’s 28 member states, on the 14th of September, for emergency talks on Europe’s escalating refugee crisis. It is vital that she takes with her the conviction that the British people (that she represents) are open to helping refugees and that we can’t continue to allow thousands to die trying to reach the EU and their legal right to claim asylum.

The march attracted an estimation of 90.000 people and was greatly supported by Syria Solidarity Movement, the Refugee Council, Read More →

Today, thousands of our fellow human beings have been forced to leave their homes to escape violence. They leave behind education, jobs and most importantly, their family. When will they ever see them again? The European Commission recently estimated a number of almost 60 million displaced people around the world. As of World Refugee Day, they made a joint statement in which they announced:

“… Europe will not turn a blind eye. Nor can we when many of these displaced persons are seeking out safe haven on European shores. …”

CARE International – one of the world’s leading humanitarian and development organisations – is involved in Carehelping refugees in various parts of the world. For example, CARE has been part of helping appr. 58.000 refugees in northern Nigeria since August 2014. Their teams distribute food, household supplies and cash grants to vulnerable people. They provide water and organise transport. It is a positive thought that organisations like CARE go ahead and actually do something.

Refugees need help, not only should they be welcomed somewhere with open arms, they should be supported until they feel strong enough to stand on their own feet. It is for this reason that I decided to trot the IMG_0836streets of St Petersport [Guernsey] with a tray of homemade Dutch Arretjes cake.

Today – on World Refugee Day – The Guernsey locals have proven to be remarkably giving and I am grateful for their generosity. Guernsey provided CARE International with an extra £162,92 pounds [appr. €235 euro’s]. I hope that I was able to create awareness of the issues concerning refugees and to encourage people to keep CARE International in mind for future donations. CARE helps, so we should help CARE → donations they receive to their Life2Live campaign before the 6th July will be doubled by the UK government!

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Bill Bryson visited various projects of CARE in Kenya and wrote a few words on their behalf in his book “African Diary“. I  am not only recommending you to buy this book because it is an amusing read, but because the profit of this publication will go straight to CARE International. In Bill Bryson’s words:

“… in acquiring this slender volume you don’t actually buy a book. You make a generous donation to a worthy cause and get a free book in return, which isn’t quite the same thing.”

 

“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”

Published in 2002

This small book contains Bill Bryson’s account of his trip to Kenya. He was asked by CARE-International visit some of their project and to write a couple of words on their behalf. As of his preceding knowledge, it must have been quite an adventurous undertaking for him:

“… were it not for some scattered viewings of the 1952 classic Bwanda Devil and a trip on the jungle Safari ride at Disneyland in 1961, my knowledge of African life, I regret to say, would be entirely dependent on Jungle Jim movies.”

After a terrifying briefing on African dangers he might encounter, he got on a plane. Although he got himself into distress various times (seemingly to make us laugh), it did not take long for Bryson to realise that Kenya is a “terrific country”, and that CARE’s projects really make a difference to the local people.

Especially interesting I found the account of “Kibera” the biggest slum in Nairobi. It reminded me of the slums described by Mike Davis in his book Planet of Slums. Even though Kibera has at least 700.000 occupants, the government does not recognise Kibera, it does not officially exist, and it cannot be found on any map. This makes it difficult for humanitarian organisations – such as CARE – to make improvements. I not only recommend you to buy this book because it is an amusing read, but in Bill Bryson’s words:

“… in acquiring this slender volume you didn’t actually buy a book. You made a generous donation to a worthy cause and got a free book in return, which isn’t quite the same thing.”

Published in 1957

This book largely describes the writers’s experiences in and around Lijiang, among the Nakhi people. It is an especially interesting read for those fascinated by Chinese minorities – like myself. While visiting Lijiang, I experienced the city as a major tourist destination. As Peter Goullart had lived in Lijiang before the cultural revolution, I was very curious how he had experienced it. He described Lijiang as an unspoiled (though primitive) paradise – which is why this work is the ultimate “I was there before it was ruined” book. Back then, the locals were in fight against certain developments. For example, they were against constructing an improved road to Lijiang, which in their eyes would contribute to the ‘destruction’ of their peaceful town.

Apart from being a competent narrator, Peter Goullart seems quite the linguist, speaking fluent Russian, French, English, Mandarin Chinese and Naxi, in addition to smatterings of Shanghainese and Tibetan. After growing up in Moscow and Paris, Goullart left for Shanghai during the Bolshevik Revolutionin in 1924. It was here where he learned Chinese and worked as a tour guide. Following the complications between Japan and China in the 1930s, Goullart traveled westward to Chongqing and Sichuan before – through a complex chain of events – becoming named the chief of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives in Lijiang. He was charged with Read More →

Naxi women have always been well known for their hand-made embroidery. We are keen on visiting a village nearby which hosts their embroidery institute (600 years old). It is believed that the most famous Naxi masters of embroidery were arrested and put in jail during the cultural revolution, but fortunately the Chinese government has subsidised their work and so we were able to admire some of their great work in Baisha (North of Lijiang).

The government has set up several schools in Baisha, where students can study for free, and even get lunch if they live out of town. There are about a million masters and students in China. 20 famous one, one is from Yunnan, Peng Ping. Being a student is for free because their work is important to preserve. The party gives their work as gifts of good relations, it is rare and beautiful. many of them are a year work. to become a master is difficult, the standards are very high. learning the stitches is 6 months work, then you do very small ones. Peng Ping is a master and she is 40, very young. As eye sight becomes worse when you are 50, she can make 10 pieces as a master. Those pieces are very rare, and valuable. One thread of silk consists of about 256 tiny threads. Beginners stitch with half threads, master can stitch tiny details and shades with a single thread. The finer the thread you use the more shiny the work. Some works also consist of many many layers which gives it a sort of 3d look. I was amazed by how abstract some of the work was, even including characters of the dongba language (language of the Nakhi ethnic group).

Nakhi native music is thousands of years old, and is presently being kept alive by Xuan Ke, the president of Dayan Naxi Ancient Music Association. He was born in 1930 and is of the Tibet-Nakhi nationality. I attended one of his orchestra performances which consists of 24 Naxi people playing Naxi music that has almost been lost in China. They performed pieces from the Han, Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties, played on original instruments. Most such instruments did not survive the cultural revolution. However, several of them hid their’s by burying them. I saw the “Chinese gong chimes”, the “Quxiang pipa”  and the “Huqin” which are all more than 200 years old. The “huqin”looks like a bamboo version of the “Erhu”. Sugudu” is another rare instrument in China that was played in this orchestra. It looks like an ancient guitar.
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Currently I am exploring a 800 year old village called Lijiang (a minority town in Yunnan). Lijiang is one of the many places which are at times nicknamed “Venice of the East” because of the abundance of waterways and canals (“Venice of South West China” would perhaps be slightly more accurate). Lijiang has magnificent views of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which consists of 13 peaks with an average altitude of more than 5000 meters.

The minority that occupies this city is named “Nakhi”. They are one of the officially recognised minorities in China. The Nakhi are thought to have come originally from northwestern China, migrating south toward Tibetan populated regions, and usually inhabiting the most fertile river-side land, driving the other competing tribes farther up the hillsides onto less fertile land. The Nakhi, along with Bai and Tibetans, traded over the dangerous overland trading links with Lhasa and India, on the so-called Tea and Horse Caravan routes.

Nakhi culture has its own native Dongba religion, literary and farming practices, influenced by the Confucian roots of Han Chinese history, and also by the group’s Tibetan neighbors. Especially in the case of their musical scores, it acts as the foundation of the Nakhi literature. While in Lijiang I attended one of their Orchestra performances. The Nakhi have their own writing, their own distinct language and their own native dress. Nakhi women have always been well known for their hand-made embroidery.

Before the cultural revolution there were a couple of foreigners living here. Peter Goullart, who wrote “Forgotten Kingdom” and biologist Joseph Rock, who wrote “The Ancient Na-Khi Kingdom of Southwest China ”. I immediately ordered the first edition of Goulant’s book, and then found out that Rock’s one is more of a collectors item. It will be difficult to get a hold of a copy.

 

While visiting my favorite Chinese province Yunnan I have been studying the characters of HSK 2. I have been practicing to write 371 characters so far. Its hard to focus with these beautiful hot springs around the corner. In some hot springs you do feel like a “zhenzhu” feels in a “naicha”, how it feels to swim in hot strawberry squash, and what its like to sit in hot lemony coughing syrup!

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Published in 1920

Beautiful account of Nora, who lived with a Chinese family in the beginning of the 20th century. I am just amazed by the fact that once only 13 tradesmen were allowed to trade with the West. They were apparently fully responsible for the behaviour of their Western trading partners.

Even though I had realised this when living in China, reading this book made me even more aware of the tremendous amount of superstitious beliefs.

The last couple of weeks I have been writing Chinese character intensively. I just finished memorising the characters needed for HSK 1 (150 words).

Some of the characters are so similar! Like 帅 and 师. Also 我,钱 and 找. I believe that only by practicing the writing I’ll be able to distinguish them easily. I also studied a 123 basic characters – that overlap with the HSK. So far I have been practicing 233 characters.

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Last evening I spent listening and singing along to songs from some well known musicals at The Sound of Musical. The songs were played by the Dutch Northern Orquestra, accompanied by acting and singing of three young Dutch talents and a children’s choir. I especially liked the performance of “Singin’ in the Rain”, “Annie”, and “My fair Lady”. We attended this musical in a small theater called Muzeval, in Emmen. I loved that they performed for such small audience 😀

One of Philip Larkin’s best-known poems “Church Going” first appeared in an anthology called New Lines (1955). In this poem, Larkin is standing in an empty church. His disappointment is expressed by him in a rather disrespectful way toward the Christian church. However, while he doesn’t believe in God or religion, he still keeps visiting the church. He can’t really picture a world in which church doesn’t exist. I have noticed that Larkin’s doubtfulness seems something that affects many people today.

Today I visited Camp Westerbork, where 700 people (including King Willem Alexander) had been reading out 102.000 names of victims of the Holocaust over the past few days. I witnessed the reading of the last names, by Bloeme Evers-Emden. Bloeme was 14 years old when the Second World War hit Amsterdam. She was forced to go into hiding from the Nazis and was subsequently arrested and deported to Auschwitz on the last transport leaving the Westerbork transit camp on 3 September 1944.

I did not realise – until I did further research – that she had known Anne Frank and her family. Jewish children were placed in separate schools, wherefore – in 1941 – Bloeme befriended Anne Frank and her sister, Margot at the Jewish Lyceum. Bloeme was in the same grade as Margot, but in a different class. I was shocked to read that her class kept shrinking from deportations throughout the year, to the point that only three students were left at the end of the year. By the time oral examinations were administered three weeks later, Bloeme was the only student in her class.

It is hard to believe that Bloeme, the women I met today, was on the same train to Auschwitz as Anne Frank and her family.

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A couple of weeks ago Saudi Arabian Raif Badawi suffered the first 50 of 1,000 lashes for the crime of starting a blogging site which called for open debate on the interpretations of the Islam. His unjust punishment has been reason for me to read bits and pieces of both religious scriptures and more skeptical literature. I have been feeling rather fortunate to have the right to read whatever I please on this topic. The basis of the more skeptical readings – which are slightly outdated but relevant – included the books of ‘The Four Horsemen” [Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet and Harris] on “new-atheism”:

“The end of Faith”(2004), by Sam Harris
“Breaking the Spell”(2006), by Daniel C. Dennett
“The God Delusion”(2006), by Richard Dawkins
“God is not great”(2007), by Christopher Hitchens

Read More →

While working on my paper “The lives of others: An investigation into the lives and attitudes of Chinese migrant workers in Africa against the historical background of Sino-African cooperation.“, I became especially interested in China as a development partner of African countries. While China is helping to improve Africa’s infrastructure and creating new opportunities for African countries, the West seems more occupied trying to discover and expose Chinese errors. Is the West a better development partner?! I suggest we focus on the good things China accomplishes in Africa, and take those as an example.

Published in 2010

For a reading group session on ’emerging China’ – in the Guernsey Library –  I read Richard King’s two stories about China’s great leap forward.

When the great leap forward was launched in the late 1950s, China’s objective was to join military and industrial superpowers, however it resulted in a famine in which an estimated 40 million peasants were killed. The two stories in this book are short, and represent two contrasting experiences of two different people with different heroes. It gives a good representation of 1959 – the year in which villages became communal in preparation for the Great Leap Forward. Chinese mentality meant working together, and work hard in order to make the great leap forward possible. A mentality that can still be felt in China today. Furthermore, it shows the difficulties of the following years.

A couple of things that I would like to note after attending this reading group:
1) The readings on China in Western education are poorly chosen.
2) The media in the West does not necessarily show you a more truthful image of the world as the Chinese media.

ImitationGame2014Yesterday I watched “The Imitation Game”, in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing – the English mathematician who helps cracking the Enigma code during the Second World War. It is believed that his work shortened the war by two years and saved about 14 million lives. Apart from its focus on Turing’s work, this film shows the horror of being convicted for being homosexual. Alan Turing shows many similarities with the character Cumberbatch plays in Sherlock, and also reminded me of Russell Crowe’s character – John Nash – in “A beautiful mind”. Both highly intelligent, a bit odd and vulnerable. However Turing seems to own a higher doses of self-importance, which made me laugh.

What I found fascinating is the fact that the cracking of the Enigma code was held a secret for over 50 years! After watching this I will be adding “Enigma” –  a novel by Robert Harris – to my reading list.

Today, the 5th of February 2015, the news reports that there are new Enigma code documents discovered. They were stuffed into the wall cavities of Bletchley Park where the codebreakers were based during the war. How exciting is that!

Published February 2007

In this memoir, Ishmael Beah – an author and human rights activist from Sierra Leone – gives a personal account of his time as a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone (1990s).

On 23 March 1991, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), led by Foday Sankoh† and backed by Charles Taylor, launched its first attack in villages in the diamond-rich Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. One of their attacks forced Ishmael to run away from his village at the age of 12. He was separated from his immediate family for good, and forced to join an army unit who brainwashed him into using guns and drugs. Four years after the rebels attacked his hometown, UNICEF removed him from the army and put him into a rehabilitation program. I found his account of rehabilitation quite distressing, and I praise the people working with UNICEF for never giving up on the children. They know and let the children know that it is not their fault. This book makes one realise how war tears apart families, how fearful the war-filled forests are, and what these children did and gave up for their survival. I admire Ishmael’s mental power, and his will to continue even when being  humiliated repeatedly.

in his recent work “The Bottom Billion” (2008) Paul Collier firstly mentions Sierra Leone in his paragraph about the causes of civil war, calling it “a poor and miserable country at the bottom of the Human Development Index” (p25). Collier explains that, Foday Sanhoy had turned down the post for vice president and had made clear that his goal was to be in charge of the part of the government that managed Sierra Leone’s lucrative diamond concessions. In order to do so, he recruited teenage drug addicts and terrorised the civilian population by for example hacking off hands and feet. When he continues about the costs of civil war, he mentions a study done by Jeremy Weinstein (p29). Weinstein concluded from his study in Mozambique and Sierra Leone that the initial motivations among a rebel group gradually erode. “In the presence of natural resources wealth – oil, diamonds, or perhaps drugs – there are credible prospects of riches, so that some of the young in the queue to join will be motivated by these prospects” (p30). He gets back to using Sierra Leone as an example in his bit about maintaining post-conflict peace,  praising the British intervention named “Operation Palliser”. According to him it serves as a “model for military intervention in the bottom billion: cheap, confident, and sustained” (p128).

In his book “Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles” (2008) Richard Dowden ended his chapter on Sierra Leone by saying that “More than any other people in Africa, Sierra Leoneans still look to Britain for friendship and support” (p320). However, he believes that only a handful of people in Britain could point to Sierra Leone on a map.

The lives of others: An investigation into the lives and attitudes of Chinese migrant workers in Africa against the historical background of Sino-African cooperation.

As China’s expansion into Africa has been increasing enormously over recent years, Sino-African relations have become a prominent topic in the general media and for observers of both Africa’s and China’s international relations. It is surprising that relatively little has been written about Chinese migrants in Africa. While China claims their relationship with Africa to be mutually profitable, a high proportion of the available available literature presents Chinese presence on the continent in increasingly negative ways, this literature is mostly of Western authorship. It is timely to attempt to gain greater understanding of the experiences of Chinese migrants workers who come – in increasing numbers – with Chinese aid, trade, business and development projects to the African continent. This small scale study uses existing literature to explore Sino-African cooperation and migration to Africa, and obtained empirical evidence from conducting in-depth interviews with Chinese migrants in various African countries in order to gain understanding of their lives and attitudes. This paper demonstrates that through largely positive encounters and despite language barriers and cultural differences, Chinese migrants are playing a prominent role in Sino-African cooperation.

You are most welcome to read my research. Please note that in order to guarantee the anonymity of the respondents that were interviewed for this research,  I have made use of pseudonyms to replace their real names.

Click here to download “The Lives of Others”, by Sanne Schouwenburg (PDF file)

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The Mangalica is a Hungarian breed of pig that descended directly from wild boar populations around 1833. It is an unusual pig as it grows a hairy ‘fleece’, similar to that of a sheep. The only other pig breed noted for having a long coat is the now extinct “Lincolnshire Curly Coat” of England. The Mangalica was formerly bred as a lard pig (pig fat), and were therefore large and round. The demand for lard has dropped, and so today the pig is a rare breed that I thought was worth dedicating a blog post too. A new festival is written down on my list of things to do; the Mangalica festival in Hungary, which is celebrated every year between the 6th and 8th of february.

I was prepared for the worst, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the horses were looked after. I was actually quite impressed by their luxurious stables, busy grooms and way of training.

What came as no surprise was that they are lovely cuddle beasts like anywhere else.

Labels such as “tried and tested on cooked animals” of the tasty Glasseye Creek Wild Meat Sauce, are often misinterpret. In this example it is used as a slogan, but in other cases labels are – even though they comply with the regulations – misleading and therefore many of us are encouraging the use of animal cruelty, often without being aware of it.

tumblr_mv80pgC2Lo1rn8sfso1_1280This post I am simply writing to encourage people to change their lifestyle a tiny bit in order to decrease animal cruelty. Ive noticed that more and more people around me are becoming vegetarians, which already helps decreasing enormously. For all the ones – like myself –  that have decided not to miss out on a roasted duck with cranberry sauce, and decided that meat and fish should be part of your diet, there are still various other ways to help decrease animal cruelty.

Apart from restricting your meat consumption to only/mostly “happy meat”, you could consider buying cosmetics that are not animal tested. I realized how many people have no idea what “Dermatologically Tested” actually means. Literally it means “tested on skin”, but it tells you nothing about how the tests are done, or on who’s or what’s skin it was tested on. Besides that it doesn’t even mean that they passed the test! Different companies have different definitions and therefore a ‘dermatologically tested’ claim on one product may mean something completely different to the same claim on another product. Read More →

e13-871An interesting piece of propaganda which quotes: “Fewer births, better births, to develop China vigorously”. This propaganda was distributed in the 1980s, when the one-child policy was enforced. In the country side more children were needed to help on the farm, this was partly the reason of the fact that this policy was more successful in the cities than in the countryside. Interestingly it were usually girls that were shown on the posters, to indicate that they are worth as much as boys. Sex-selective abortions however were still not uncommon. The consequences of this policy are huge, and will become a challenge in the near future as the dependency ratio is declining. Who will take care of the Chinese old-aged?

“There are districts in which the position of the rural population is that of a man standing permanently up to the neck in water, so that even a ripple is sufficient to drown him.”

10245602Published April 26th 2011

Winner of the 2011 Financial Times/ Goldman Sachs Best Business Book of the Year Award.

Interesting read drawn on 15 years of research from various countries around the world, by Banerjee and Duflo. They manage to explain economics by sharing local observations and exploring the behavior of poor people in poor countries, without generalising about solutions of economic development. How do the poor cope with poverty? What do they want or not? What do they expect, or not? Why do they make the choices they make? What I find especially good is how they have explored the affect of aid or financial investment on their lives.

photoWe have all come across it, if not in China, then in France; the squat-toilet. I have always considered this a primitive toilet, but usually don’t feel too bothered to use it. If you got to go, you got to go… I was quite surprised however to discover that many researchers, believe that using the squat-toilet is the most healthy way to poop. The squatting position is appaerently more natural and can help avoid colon disease, constipation, hemorrhoids, pelvic floor issues and similar ailments. Bill Gates is such a big fan, that he recently held a contest to re-design the modern toilet, but I doubt that he has a squat-toilet in that gigantic mansion of his. Read more about the benefits of squat-pooping here.

* The picture above was taken today, in our apartment on campus in China. We have two toilets; one Western and one squat-toilet.

According to the China Daily, there was an estimated number of 225 million Chinese people traveling during the 2014 Spring Festival. No wonder I could not get any train tickets anywhere, and therefore basically got stuck in Shanghai. Studying in China is especially interesting as we get the opportunity to travel around China in our breaks, but not if we have the same holidays as the Chinese! I decided to travel to the Philippines and ‘get away’ of the traveling crowd, and NO regrets! What a lovely country!

Published 2015 (1st ed. 1990)

Finally I got the 3rd revised edition in my hands! The Search for modern China is a readable, grand sweeping history of China in the modern era (i.e., post 1500 CE), covering economics, politics, military events, society and arts, backed by many useful maps, and selections of drawings, prints, and photographs. Some readers might be frustrated by the dozens of ‘pinyin’ names to keep track of. however, the patterns and trends that emerged from this book, as well as the sense of China’s journey as a nation is fascinating. Count me a fan of Spence’s level of detail. Reading this is helpful for understanding the backdrop for what you will find in China today – and what you won’t. It is amusing that Deng Xiaopeng, the founder of modern Chinese state capitalism, modestly hoped for a 2% growth rate until the year 2050, with the aim of making China a moderately developed nation.

This edition continues after the events of Tiananmen Square. A lot has happened since then. I cannot wait to read this last chapter!

Published February 200751Ia0IeFf2L

Dani Rodrik is an expert in international economics, globalisation, economic growth, development and political economy. Among other degrees, he has received a PhD. in Economics and he has broad experience as a professor of International Political Economy.

This book consists of a collection of some of Rodrik’s previous published essays written between 2000 and 2006 on various facets of development and globalisation. His aim – mentioned in the introduction – is to explore whether economic growth is the most powerful instrument for reducing poverty. This is backed by a considerable amount of economic analyses, history and policy studies of different nations. His analysis are to Read More →

Published May 2009

Galeano seeks to explain how the mechanisms of plunder operated from the beginning of the colonial era, through independence and into the twentieth century. He discusses in detail the way in which industrialisation of Europe and subsequently the USA was achieved at the expense of the impoverishment of Latin America, in terms of natural & human resources.

The Open Veins of Latin America is divided into 2 main sections. The first recounts the story of how Europeans first “discovered” Latin America and started to plunder the continent’s natural resources, from minerals they mined through to agricultural goods created using the labour of the indigenous population. These goods were exported from Latin American soil directly to Read More →

Published January 2007

Neoliberalism – the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action – has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so.

Its spread has depended upon a reconstitution of state powers such that privatisation, finance, and market processes are emphasised. State interventions in the economy are minimised, while the obligations of the state to provide for the welfare of its citizens are diminished. David Harvey, tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalisation came from and how Read More →

Published September 2007

Mike Davis is an American writer, political activist, urban theorist, and historian. He is a professor at the University of California and defines himself as a socialist and Marxist- environmentalist. His publications convey ideas on urban theory and developmental studies. Planet of Slums was originally a journal in 2004 which was converted into a book and published in 2006. In his book, Davis provides a refreshing angle on slums in favour of slum dwellers, and offers much in terms of empirical evidence and original arguments, which intrigues us to investigate how slums have evolved since the publication of the book. Read More →

Excerpt From: Harris, Sam (2004) “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.” (New York : W.W. Norton & Co.)

“What if all our knowledge about the world were suddenly to disappear?
Imagine that six billion of us wake up tomorrow morning in a state of utter ignorance and confusion. Our books and computers are still here, but we can’t make heads or tails of their contents. We have even forgotten how to drive our cars and brush our teeth.”

“What knowledge would we want to reclaim first?

Well, there’s that business about growing food and building shelter that we would want to get reacquainted with. We would want to relearn how to use and repair many of our machines. Learning to understand spoken and written language would also be a top priority, given that these skills are necessary for acquiring most others. When in this process of reclaiming our humanity will it be important to know that Jesus was born of a virgin? Or that he was resurrected?”

“How would we relearn these truths, if they are indeed true?

By reading the Bible? Our tour of the shelves will deliver similar pearls from antiquity- like the ‘fact’ that Isis, the goddess of fertility, sports an impressive pair of cow horns. Reading further, we will learn that Thor carries a hammer and that Marduk’s sacred animals are horses, dogs, and a dragon with a forked tongue. Whom shall we give top billing in our resurrected world? Yaweh or Shiva? And when will we want to relearn that premarital sex is a sin? Or that adulteresses should be stoned to death? Or that the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception? And what will we think of those curious people who begin proclaiming that one of our books is distinct from all others in that it was actually written by the Creator of the universe?”
“The practice of organizing our lives around untestable propositions found in ancient literature-to say nothing of killing and dying for them-would be impossible to justify. What stops us from finding it impossible now?”.

Published October 2011k9564

In “Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World”, Escobar poses the question of how the industrialised Western countries came to be the unquestioned role models of economic development for less-developed nations. Escobar wants to ‘contribute to the development framework for the cultural critique of economics as a foundational structure of modernity, including the formulation of a culture-based political economy’. The book actively criticises development economics and the development agencies for having taken a “naïve” and “oversimplified” approach, as well as underestimating the requirements for development in these countries.  Read More →

large.jpg.htmlDr Alison J Ayers, is an associate professor in political science at SOAS, London. Her main interests include IPE, development and imperialism to name a few examples, with a specific focus on Africa. Ayers wrote this chapter – which is part of the book “Decolonizing International Relations” – to contribute to the recovery of African history by offering a non-imperialistic view of political systems and democracy in Ghana and Uganda. The aim is not necessarily to show evidence of advanced African political systems. Rather it defends, in an interesting and refreshing way, the idea that Africa has had their own types of political communities prior to colonisation. Read More →

41WEJP3eyXLThis book was written by Krasner in 1999. Stephen Krasner is a neorealist who believes in conflict prevention. One of Krasner’s most famous accomplishments in the realm of political science was defining “international regimes” as, “implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations,” in a special issue of the journal International Organisation in 1982. He has also written extensively about statehood and sovereignty.

Krasner defines 4 ways in which people refer to sovereignty in international relations:
1. Domestic sovereignty (actual control over a state by an authority within this state),
2. Interdependence Sovereignty (actual control of movement across state’s borders),
3. International Legal Sovereignty (formally recognising independent territories),
4. Westphalian Sovereignty (states may determine their own authority structures).

Read More →

1648The Myth of 1648: Class, Geopolitics and the Making of Modern International Relations” was written by Dr Benno Teschke in 2003. Teschke is a German-British IR theorist who focuses on the creation and emergence of the contemporary state system. He earned his PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science and is currently a Reader in IR at the University of Sussex.

His book raises valid questions about a traditionally widely accepted view held by scholars of international relations, and creates long overdue debate around a key event in this field of study, which can be seen in the extensive response his book received following its publication. However, elements of his argument are simplistic and would benefit from more evidence.

Read More →

Today I read “Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth.” in “International Organisation” [2001, 55 – 2, p251-287]. It is written by Andreas Osiander, a prominent IR scholar, who studied international relations, history, and economics at Tübingen University, the Institut d ́Etudes Politiques of Paris and at Oxford University. He is currently a lecturer in international relations at Leipzig University, where his work is mainly focused on the study of the concept of the State. Although this text is limited, Osiander manages to point out that the concept of sovereignty is subject to change over time and that what was meant by sovereignty during the creation of the Westphalian treaties is not the same today, nor is it relevant in today’s global landscape.

Read More →

41dFFWW5m-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Charles Tilly – an Americans sociologist, political scientist, and historian – wrote a chapter called “War Making and State Making as Organised Crime” in “Bringing the State Back in” [Evans, P., Rueschemeyer, D., and Skocpol, T. (eds.)(1985)(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)]

In his chapter Tilly sets the actions of organised violence and the movements of War-making and State-making side by side, which maintains that government leaders are comparable to “self-seeking entrepreneurs” [p169]. He claims that, during the formation of European states, government leaders gained power through organising protection rackets and through the use of force within given territories.

A protection racket is a situation in which a criminal group demands money from a storeowner, company, etc. in exchange for agreeing not to harm them [Cambridge dictionary].

Read More →

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 17.33.39
After having visited a few other places in China, I arrived at the campus of the University of Nottingham in Ningbo. Their campus is beautiful, and the view from the balcony is absolutely stunning. During the introduction week I immediately noticed that we were not in Europe. The local China Telecom store has a monopoly on campus and in order to be able to use the internet in your room you must buy one of their phones and send them a message with it every day in order to receive a new password. Even more shocking, our library and email correspondence is closely monitored by a member of the Party. The registration does not run very smooth, but the fact that this is the first international campus on Chinese territory, makes the complications more acceptable.

After trying out all of the offered modules I decide to follow the following modules this semester:

Core Concepts of International Relations,
International Political Economy,
Welfare States.

Read More →

Published in 2008

“The Bottom Billion” is an award-winning bestseller written by Paul Collier – a professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. In his book he shares his view on how to solve the poverty crisis facing the world.

He speaks about his book on TED.

20130709-234827.jpgThis picture was taken to serve as promotion material for the school. It reminds me of some pretty impressive students. The Chinese are very good at memorizing words and sentences.

The way they formulate their sentences also helped me understand the construction of Chinese sentences. The students taught me a great deal of Chinese, and Chinese ways 😀

12158480Published March 20th 2012

This book includes a study in the development of poverty and it gives an insight in the contribution of history, economics and politics to a society. While suffering from excessive repetition, this book addresses the issues of wealth and poverty in relation to politics and economics. I enjoyed reading about China’s power as a developing monster economy, and the comparison they make about the fates of North- and South Korea, and how their well-being became so different. It is obvious that the writers believe that it is not aid, but the economical and political structure and institutions that lead to a nations prosperity. Another writer who is famous for criticising aid is Dambisa Moyo. She wrote an influential book called “Dead Aid”.

Peking+Opera+MasksPeking Opera, also called Beijing Opera, is a form of traditional Chinese theatre in which characters are represented by masks painted directly on the actors’ faces. Each mask is a stylized and often complex representation of a given character’s traits or history.

‘Four Great Anhui Troupes’ brought Anhui opera to Beijing in 1790, for the eightieth birthday of the Qianlong Emperor. It was originally staged for the court and only made available to the public later. There exist over 300 unique masks from the world of Peking Opera.

The Qianlong Emperor had banned all female performers in Beijing in 1772, but the appearance of women on the stage began to rise again during the 1870s. Female performers began to impersonate male roles and declared equality with men.

In addition to its presence in Mainland China, Peking opera has spread to many other places. It can be found in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese communities elsewhere.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Wyxoq5OH1Q[/youtube]

In 2011 I crossed borders with China at the border with Laos. I traveled overland to Beijing and have visited some recommendable places that I would like to share with you.

  1. The Great Wall Ruins (长城)(I believe I was at Jiankou – 箭扣, hard to tell)
  2. Lotus Mountain (华山)
  3. The Terracotta Army (秦始皇兵马俑)
  4. Li River (漓江)
  5. Xuankong Temple (悬空寺)
  6. Yungang Grottoes (云冈石窟)
  7. The Bund (上海外滩)
  8. Xiaoxihu Lake (小西湖)

There are many more interesting and/ or beautiful sights in China, but unfortunately I did not have the chance to visit them yet.

In Yunnan I would visit Lijiang + hike in the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

In Shanghai I would recommend to visit the propaganda museum, Yuan bar for a good cocktail, and I would go to the YuYuan gardens/area.

book 26Published September 4th 2012

Description
Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2001, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to a world still reeling from the terrorist attacks of September 11. Ladies and Gentlemen,” proclaimed Annan, we have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further—we will realise that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations, or regions.” Yet within only a few years the world was more divided than ever—polarised by the American invasion of Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the escalating civil wars in Africa, and the rising influence of China.

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace is the story of Annan’s remarkable time at the center of the world stage. After forty years of service at the United Nations, Annan shares here his unique experiences during the terrorist attacks of September 11; the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the war between Israel, Hizbollah, and Lebanon; the brutal conflicts of Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia; and the geopolitical transformations following the end of the Cold War. With eloquence and unprecedented candor, Interventions finally reveals Annan’s unique role and unparalleled perspective on decades of global politics.

The Yungang Grottoes are ancient Chinese SONY DSCBuddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi.  All togetherSONY DSC the site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes cut out of the rocks.

One of the grottoes was called one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China and in 2001, and so the Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

View my Top 8 Must-Sees in China.

From Beijing I went on a trip to the Shanxi SONY DSCprovince, on which I visited two very interesting sites: The Yungang Grottoes and The Hanging Temple (Xuankongsi, 悬空寺). The hanging temple is a temple built more then 1500 years ago, into a cliff. It is an extraordinary temple because it represents a combination of Buddhism, Taoism andSONY DSC Confucianism. It is built of wood but due to its ‘hanging’  in the middle of the cliffs, which is under the summit prominent part, protecting the temple from rain erosion and sunlight, the colors in the temple are relatively well preserved. I heard someone saying it was listed in the “Time” magazine as the world’s top ten most odd dangerous buildings, December 2010.

View my Top 8 Must-Sees in China.

15798316Published April 2nd 2013

This book is about The Borgia family which became popular in the 15th century during the Renaissance in Italy. The family is originally from Borja, then in the kingdom of Aragon in Spain. Two Popes came from this family, and they were quite active in politics. Many family members got married to Italian royal families and up to today their descendants are to be found in European royal bloodlines. The family is remembered because of their corrupt way of ruling. It is said that they were the first criminal family and that they are the ones that started the Italian maffia. You can imagine  many stories were written about criminality, evil and immorality within this family. The recent TV series repeats all of the usual legends in which the family’s behavior is almost to be comical. The author kind of contradicts those legends, in particular Rodrigo, as he comes up with convincing arguments about Rodrigo being a decent guy, with a bad reputation. Apparently he was quite friendly, a capable diplomat and good administrator.

As with G.J. Meyer’s book on the Tudors, this book is well written and well researched. However, it is quite lengthy as it’s not only about the Borgias family, but also about the history of Rome, Italy and the papal system.

Today I organized a camping and hiking tourIMG_0177 to Xiaoxihu. The idea was to go camping next to the lake. The only thing that was quite surprising was the scenery, I had not expected it to be so breathtaking! The great wall went straight into the lake at two spots, like a dragon. While we enjoyed the view over the lake with a beautiful sunset, we put up our tents right next to the water and heated up two barbeque’s to grill some lamp kebabs. Music, drinks and a healthy mix of Chinese and Foreigners, it was just perfect. SONY DSCThe next morning a stunning sunrise woke me up at 6h, so I decided to get up and take some pictures before everyone got up. After breakfast we packed and left for a hike in the nearby mountains, enjoying parts of the Great Wall we hadn’t seen yet. It keeps impressing me…

View my Top 8 Must-Sees in China.

第十课,Reading Comprehension

三年前我大学毕业了,可是我完全不知道我做什么。就在这个时候我认识了一个刚才从中国回来的朋友,他告诉我你一定要去中国看看,所以我就去了中国的北京。到北京的第二天,我就租到了一套老房子里的一个房间。房东一家也住在那套房子里。房东的儿子正在上大学,会说一点儿英语,可是我和房东的沟通gōutōng就非常困难了。所以我想我要尽快开始学汉语。可是付fù了三个月的房租以后,我的口袋kǒudài里就值两百美元了,不够gòu去中文学校的学费xuéfèi。所以我马上开始找工作。在美国的时候,我教过小孩子英语,很快就找到了教小孩子英语的工作。

然后,我就开始了一边教英语一边学汉语的生活。我很早就听说过汉语不是那么好学的。可是我发现如果住在中国,每天都需要说汉语,汉语也不是那么难学的。口袋kǒudài里有了一些钱,也会说一些汉语以后,我去了很多地方,差不多中国有名的地方都去过了,对中国中国人和中国的发展fāzhǎn也有了一些了解liǎojiě。我发现如果会说一些汉语,在哪里中国人都会对你很热情rèqíng,都会鼓励gǔlì你,买东西的时候也会给你更合理hélǐ的价格jiàgé。就在生活得越来越容易的时候,我病bìng了,病得很厉害,差不多一个月以后才好。幸运xìngyùn的是我在中国认识的朋友们和房东一家一直照顾着我。病好以后的生活又和以前一样了,不一样的是我知道我以后要做什么了,我想当dāng一名医生。

现在我又回到了美国,是一名医学院的学生。我一直和中国的朋友们保持bǎochí邮件yóujiàn联系,也会一直记得jìde在中国的生活。我希望有一天我会再回到中国。

Such a special moment. On this day I realize how important having a kingdom is to many of us, Dutch people. Today our Queen Beatrix retired on her 75th and made place for her eldest son Willem-Alexander, who today is crowned as the new King of The Netherlands. The special fact of today was that his wife, Maxima, who is from Argentina and very loved by the Dutch people, was not going to continue as princess, but was also to be crowned as Queen. A lovely couple who I trust to make a fresh difference in Holland. How beautiful is this?!:[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE8i1_PtPlU[/youtube]

1001004008486399I just finished reading a fascinating book about Queen Beatrix, “Dwars door alle weerstand heen” written by Jutta Chorus. Beatrix was a very capable and dedicated Queen and I would recommend this book to any Dutch citizen or people interested in the Dutch Royal Family.

第十课,课文二

两年前公司安排我去上海工作。两年很快就过去了。上个月我会到了法国。回来以后,没去过中国的朋友们问了我很多问题,比如中国好不好玩儿,汉语是不是特别tèbié难学,中国菜好吃还是法国菜好吃等等etc。我告诉他们,中国有很多好玩儿的地方。这两年我去过 西安 ,北京,杭州,海南,云南 和 四川。美丽的风景fēngjǐng,不一样的文化都给我留下了很好的印象yìnxiàng。可惜的是还有一些地方没来得及去。以后有机会的话,我一定会去看看的。

汉语有声调shēngdiào,所以说汉语和唱歌一样。要说得标准biāozhǔn不那么容易róngyì,一定要多练习。我通常工作很忙,没有那么多时间学习,所以一直说的不太好。因为声调说的不对,我还闹nào了几次笑话xiàohuà。每次和中国朋友在一起,他们都夸kuā我汉语说得越来越好。我挺不好意思的,知道他们是在鼓励gǔlì我。

以前我在法国吃过中国菜。到中国以后,才发现这里中国菜的味道wèidao和法国的很不一样。因为喜欢吃,后来我还学做了几个中国菜。

这两年的经历让我了解现在的中国和中国人。所以我建议jiànyì我的朋友:如果你不知道假期去哪里,就去中国吧!

第十课,课文一

时间过得真快,我会过已经一个多月了。现在我非常想念在上海的生活和那里的朋友们。两年前,我刚才到上海的时候,还很不习惯那里的生活。因为上海的人口比我家乡的多得多,到哪里都有很多人,做什么都要排队。买票要排队,去饭店吃饭要排队,等出租车也要排队。我觉得这样很浪费时间,就每天都带着一本汉语生词本和一个mp3。我经常一边排队一边学生词,练听力。看见我在学汉语,有的中国人就用简单jiǎndān的汉语和我聊天儿。从他们那里我学到了很多有意思的东西,汉语也说得越来越流利liúlì。

在上海我还认识了很多朋友,她们都很热情,友好。她们对上爱非常熟悉shúxi,总是知道哪里的东西最好吃,哪里的东西最便宜,哪里的按摩师按摩的最舒服,哪里的裁缝衣服做得最合身。每次和她们在一起,我都过得开心极了!

回国前,一个朋友送给我几本学习汉语的书,希望我能继续学汉语。他为我考虑得真周到啊!我现在每个星期都话一点儿时间自学,可惜kěxī的是现在有问题的时候,没有人能马上教我了。真希望有一天我能再回到上海,再见到我的那些老朋友们!

第九课,Reading Comprehension

亲爱qīn’ài 的 爸爸 妈妈,
你们好吗?身体怎么样?希望你们一切qiè都好。
我一切都好,身体也非常好。现在我每个星期最少去三次健身房,我也学会了做西餐cān。我和丽丽经常在家里做饭,不再总是吃汉堡和披萨了。所以你们放心fàngxīn,我会照顾zhàogù好自己的。我有别的消息xiāoxi,可能会让你们不高兴。这个学期差不多一经结束jiéshù了,你们一定在等我回国,可是我打算和一些朋友去欧洲ōuzhōu旅游lǚyóu两个星期,所以这个假期jiàqī我不回去了。钱的事情你们不用担心,这个学期我帮我的老师做了一个项目xiàngmù,有了一些收入shōurù。

还有一件事情我想听听你们的意见yìjiàn。明年我就要毕业了,可是现在我觉得我学得还不够gòu,我的老是想推荐tuījiàn我继续jìxù,我也挺tǐng有兴趣的。这样的话,我就要在这里再留一到两年,可能这不是你们希望的。实际上shíjìshang我听说现在回国的话,可能工作也不好找,所以我想还是留在这里继续学习吧。你们觉得呢?希望你们能理解lǐjiě我。

我给你们买了一些礼物。丽丽回去的时候,我会让她替tì我带给你们的。

祝zhù你们一切都好!我爱你们!

生词
qin’ai – dear
xiaoxi – news
fangxin – dont worry
xiangmu – project
shouru – income
lijie – understand
zhu – wish

第九课,课文二

在今天的课文里,小王派pai玛丽去机场。因为出租车在楼下等着dengzhe,所以玛丽觉得他们该gāi出发了,再检查jiǎnchá一下儿,看看应该yīnggāi带dài的东西是不是都带了。给她父母的礼物在大箱子里,她自己用的东西和电脑在小箱子里。护照hùzhào,机票和钱包都在手提包里。她只忘了带她的手机,所以她去拿ná。拿手机以后她拿小箱子,小王自己拿重zhòng的大箱子。

登机dēngjī手续shǒuxù都办bàn好了。登机牌pái拿了,行李也都托运tuōyùn了。因为登机只有一个多小时了,所以她快过安检。玛丽告诉小王他是她在中国认识renshi的第一个中国朋友。玛丽非常感谢gǎnxiè小王因为他帮了玛丽这么多。小王说帮玛丽是应该的。他希望他们以后保持bǎochí联系liánxì。玛丽欢迎huānyíng小王以后到她那里去,让她也做一回导游dǎoyóu,带他去有名的地方,吃好吃的东西。

一路顺风!多保重!
yílù shùnfēng!duō bǎozhòng!
Bon voyage! Take care!

生词
jiǎnchá – check
dēngjī – boarding
shǒuxù – procedure
bàn – handled
tuoyun – checkin
guo anjian – through security check
baochi – to maintain
ganxie – thankful

第九课,课文一

在今天的课文里有一个男人叫小王,他去玛丽的家帮她的忙màng。因为玛丽第二天就回国了,小王帮玛丽收拾shōushi箱子。小王觉得玛丽有很多东西,他问玛丽两个箱子够gòu吗?玛丽也担心dānxīn箱子不够,可是她说, 如果不够,明天会去买一个大箱子。玛丽给家人的礼物lǐwù都准备zhǔnbèi好了。她给爸爸准备一幅书法fú shūfǎ,给妈妈准备一段真丝duàn zhēnsī的料liào子。玛丽说给她弟弟买礼物是最难选的。因为她的弟弟说过他对东方dōngfāng的音乐yīnyuè比较jiào有兴趣,所以最后 玛丽 就 给他选xuǎn了几张中国音乐yinyue的CD。小王觉得玛丽的弟弟一定会喜欢的。小王也有一份礼物要送给玛丽。是学汉语的书。小王告诉gaosu玛丽,她来中国的时候,什么多不会说,后来玛丽一直努nǔ力学汉语,说的越来越好。小王希望玛丽回国以后还能继续jìxù学习。玛丽说她一定会继续学习汉语的。以后有机会,她还会再来中国工作的。

New Vocabulary
bangmang – to help
gou – enough
shoushi – organize
zhensi – pure silk
gai..(走)..le – its time to (go)
danxin – worried
zhunbei – prepare
yi fu shufu – calligraphy
yi duan zhensi – pure silk
di er tian – next day

第八课,Reading Comprehension

我为什么上兴趣班
明天就是周末了,可是我不能袖子,也不能出去玩。因为每个星期六上午我要上钢琴gangqin课,下午要上书法shufa课,星期天下午还要上英语课,我对这些斑完全wanquan没有兴趣xingqu。实际上shijishang我对什么课都没有兴趣,我只想周末的时候可以放松放松,出去玩。

可是我的妈妈说别的孩子也都在上这些兴趣班,如果我什么都不学的话,就是浪费langfei时间,就会输给shu gei 别的孩子,将来jianglai一定会后悔houhui的。可是我觉得如果现在不能好好儿玩的话,我下个星期一就会后悔houhui的。如果我这样对妈妈说的话,他一定会非常生气,因为我知道现在她的压力yali非常大。如果我什么都不学,什么都不会的话,她和她的朋友们在一起的时候会很没面子mianzi。我不想让妈妈生气,也不想让她没面子,所以每个周末都去上这些我没有兴趣的兴趣班。实际上shijishang我是为wei了妈妈。

New Vocabulary
liangfei – waste
shu gei – to lose to
jianglai – future
houhui – to regret
mianzi – face
wei – for

SONY DSCThe Great Wall is breathtaking, I mean it is one of the “the New Seven Wonders of the World” and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China. Anyway, the renovated, tourist-accessible parts of the Great Wall, and the part I visited, are simply not comparable.

I had organized a tour for about 15 friends, starting in a tiny village at the foot of a mountain. We were determined to find the ruins of the wall, not really sure where to start looking. When walking up the mountain, we soon needed our hands to continue, and at some point we had to go back to take another way up as there is no kind of indication of SONY DSCwhere to go and it was getting quite impossible to go any further. Not that the other way we picked was any easier! Anyway, we kept going, on low speed and helping each other whenever we could. There was only one way to get up, and that was by getting your hands dirty. At a certain point we could not continue as there was a 4 meter overhanging rock blocking our way, right at the peak. Turning back would be too dangerous too, as it was steep and slippery. Eventually we decided to keep going and guide each other through the last climb, quite a team-building experience as I remember… Once at the top I figured everyone felt quite a bit likeSONY DSC a pro, but the only thing was that we could still not see any kind of a wall! We decided to continue down, and up again, until we ran into a real ‘pro’, who told us there was an easier way down towards the village. We decided that part of our group should go that way as it was getting dark, and we needed to hurry up if we wanted to find the Great Wall.

Fast and focused we climbed the tough climb up the mountain. Out of water and one hour later, we could see the ruins of the Great Wall, and during the last half hour climb we were right at it’s feet, which made us climb with even more emotion. Arriving at the ruins felt like quite a victory. The view was absolutely breathtaking as by that time the sun was setting, and everything was covered with tiny white flowers. We decided to walk down 5 towers to experience the real and untouched Great Wall, after which we turned back and walked down all the way back to the village, read: slide, jump and climb.

View my Top 8 Must-Sees in China.

第八课,课文二

今天我学习了在网上 或者 在店里买东西。我们看了一个课文,课文里有一个女人,Linda。Linda的手机坏了,别人给她打电话的时候,她什么都听不见。她问了一个朋友陪péi她买新xin的手机,可是,Dawei,她的朋友,推荐tuījiàn在网上买一个。Dawei 说网上什么东西都有,买东西又便宜piányi又方便fāngbiàn。Linda觉得因为手机很贵,所以应该yīnggāi去店里看看,多比较bǐjiào一下儿。她说网上只有几张照片,不能知道zhīdao是真的还是假jiǎ的,质量zhìliàng好不好。Dawei 告诉gaosu Linda如果货的质量zhìliàng有问题,可以退tuì货和换huàn货。Linda觉得很不方便,她要马上就换货。她也觉得不放心。Linda 的朋友一次在网上买东西,但是收到shōudào的东西和照片的很不一样。后来hòulái她浪费làngfèi了很多时间。最后只能换huàn,不能退tuì。最后Dawei陪Linda去店里买。

New Vocabulary
shenme – anything
ting jian – to hear
jiǎ – fake
fangxin – to be assured
tuì – get refund
houlai – later on

第八课,课文一

今天我学习了为什么孩子háizi最好上兴趣班。我们看了一个课文,在课文有一个女人,小张。因为天气不错,所以她要这个周末带儿子一起去公园玩。她的朋友,小王,和她的女儿没有时间一起去公园,因为她每个周末陪péi女儿去上兴趣班。

小张的儿子在学校里已经很辛苦xīnkǔ了,她觉得 小王和女儿最好也放松fàngsōng一下儿。她问过她的儿子要不要去上兴趣班,可是她的儿子不想上,只想玩。小张觉得有的父母对孩子的要求太高了,这样孩子的压力yālì会很大,还觉得有的孩子就越来越讨厌tǎoyàn去兴趣班。她说将来jiānglái的事情shíqing将来再说。现在她的孩子每天应该yīnggāi玩的开心。

小王说上兴趣班也是一种zhǒng放松fàngsōng。她的女儿和别的孩子一起弹tán钢琴gāngqín,跳舞tiàowǔ,她觉得应该yīnggāi很开心。她小时候也不想上兴趣班,可是现在她的朋友们都又会跳舞tiàowǔ又会弹tán钢琴gāngqín,所以她很羡慕她的朋友们。她不希望女儿将来jiānglái和她一样。小王觉得 如果女儿没有一点儿压力yālì,孩子就不会好好儿学习。她希望孩子能明白míngbái。

New Vocabulary
pei – accompany
xinku – exhausted
zhong – kind of
tan – play
gangqin – piano
tiaowu – dance
yali – stress
taoyan – hate or dislike
jianglai – future
mingbai – understand

第七课,Reading Comprehension

在中国很多饭店都有包饭。如果你喜欢在比较安静的环境huanjing里面吃饭,或者不希望xiwang别的人听到你和朋友,客户的谈话tanhua,或者你和你的朋友们会很吵chao,你就应该yinggai预定yuding包房。这样你就不用忍受renshou别人的噪音zaoyin,别人也不需要忍受renshou你的噪音zaoyin。

一般包房需要预订yuding。一些饭店提供tigong不同尺寸的包房,所以人少的话可以选择xuanze小包房,人多的话就可以选择xuanze打包放。

现在饭店一般都不收shou包房费fei,不过可能会给包房设she一个最低zui di消费shoufei,就是说,如果你要在包房里吃饭的话,饭店会告诉gaosu你最少得dei花多少钱。所以你预订yuding包房的时候,除了chule应该yinggai告诉gaosu饭店你什么时候要去吃饭,有多少人,最好还问清楚qingchu有没有最低消费zui di shoufei和最低消费是多少。

huanjing = environment
tanhua = conversation
yinggai = should
renshou = tolerate
xuanze = select/ pick
shou = receive
she = set
zui di = minimum
dei = have to
chule = besides

第七课,课文二

A 马里,下个星期我要请客户(kèhù)吃饭,可是不知道(zhidao)去哪里吃好。你给我推荐(tuījiàn)一个地方吧!
B 他们喜欢什么口味(kouwèi)? 中餐还是西餐?
A 他们不太习惯(xíguàn)吃西餐,还是中餐吧。
B 你对环境(huánjìng)有什么要求?
A 因为要一边吃饭一边摊(tán)一些事情(shíqing),所以环境(huánjìng)最好能安静(ānjìng)一点儿。
B 我上个星期带(dài)一个客户去了一家新开的饭店,觉得那里应该(yīnggāi)符合(fúhé)你的要求。
A

第七颗,课文一

A 欢迎光临!请问几位?
B 我们一共六位。
A 您有没有预定(reservation)?
B 预定了,实在非吸烟区(non-smoking)。
A 好的,请跟我来。请坐,这是菜单(menu)。

A 请问你们现在点菜吗?
B 你们有什么招牌菜(specialty)? 能推荐(recommend)一下儿吗?
A 我们鱼做得很不错,来的客人们都会点的。
B 那我们也来一条鱼吧。
A 好的。你们来一条三斤左右的就可以了。 鱼要怎么吃?我推荐您来一个"一鱼两吃"。
B 什么叫?
A 就是鱼头和鱼尾(tail)做汤(soup), 中间那段清蒸(qingzheng,steam)或者炒鱼片。
B 好, 我们就要"一鱼两吃"吧!但是我们有两个要求。第一个是所有(all)的菜里都不要放(put)猪油和猪肉,因为我们有个朋友从不吃猪肉。
A 这个没问题。您的第二个要求呢?
B 所有的菜里都别放(dont put)花生,有一个朋友对花生过敏(guomin,allergy)。
A 您放心(dont worry),我们一定会照您的要求做的。

第六课,Reading Comprehension

Zhang 经理,您好:
很久jiu没有联系lianxi。最近怎么样?忙不忙?
今天上午你们的货huo已经到了。谢谢你们给我们加急jiaji发货huo。
我们对你们货的质量zhiliang一直很放心fangxin,不过这次有两个问题:

  1. 照我们的合同,一共有四十五箱xiang货huo。可是我们只收到shoudao了四十一箱xiang,还有四箱xiang货huo不见了。
    希望你能查cha一下儿。我想知道zhidao是你们发货的时候出chu了问题wenti,还是 Wuliugongsi 那里出了问题。
  2. 我们收到shoudao的四十一箱xiang货huo里,有一箱xiang货huo的颜色比别的都深shen。我们公司对货的颜色有特别tebie的要求,这一箱xiang货huo不符合fuhe我们的要求。希望xiwang你们能尽快jinkuai给我们换huan货huo。

我们一直合作hezuo得很愉快yukuai,可能因为这次是加急jiaji发货,你们没有足够zugou的时间,所以结果jieguo让rang我们有点儿不满意manyi。希望你能尽快给我答复dafu,解决jiejue这两个问题。

 

fangxin = to assure
cha = to check
yukuai = pleasure
zugou = enough
manyi = satisfied
zugou = enough
jieguo = result
dafu = to reply
jiejue = to solve

第六课,课文二

A 你好,请问张经理在吗?
B 我就是。你是哪位?
A 我是李明!你真难找啊!我从上个星期就一直打你的电话,课时你都不在,手机也关机(phone turned off)。
B 真不好意思!我出过培训了一个星期。今天第一天来上班。怎么了,什么事情(matter)这么着急(worried)?
A 是这样的, 你们上个月发给我们的货(product)质量(quality)有问题。我们要求换货(change product)。
B 真的吗?质量有什么问题?A 我给你发了一个邮件(email),里面都写清楚(clear)了。麻烦你尽快(asap)解决(solve)。
A 我马上就查邮件 (cha youjian, check email)。我最晚今天下午六点前给你答复(dafu,reply)。
B 你尽快吧!
A 我们一定会尽快解决的。我们已经合作(cooperate)了这么久,货的质量一直很好(product quality always good)。这次一定是一个意外(accident)。
B 因为是第一次发生(occur)这样的问题,所以这次我们只要求换货(change product)。如果还有下一次,我们就要停止(tingzhi, stop)合作了。
A 谢谢你的理解(lijie, understand)!

第六课,课文一

A 听说你昨天晚上去看电影了,怎么样,好看吗?
B 我只看了一半。
A 怎么了?你去晚了吗?
B 电影七点开始,我六点半就到那里了。
A 那你一定是早走了。
B 也不是。电影结束(finished)了,我才走的。
A 那你怎么只看了一半?
B 昨天坐(sit)在我前面的两个人一直(always)在说话, 她们的声音(sound)特别大,我都听不清楚(clear)电影里在说什么。
A 我最讨厌(dislike)这样的人了。你说他们了吗?
B 开始的时候我不好意思说他们,希望他们自己能停止(stop)。 课时他们的声音(sound)越来越大(louder and louder), 我真的不能忍受(tolerate)了,就对他们说: ”对不起,我是来看电影的。你们能不能声音小一点儿?“。
A 然后呢?
B 然后他们对我说了对不起,就不说话了。
A 所以你电影只看了一半。真可惜(what a pitty)!

介绍(introduction):

鱼香肉丝是非常有名的Sichuan家常jiachang菜。这个菜是用做鱼的调料tiaoliao炒猪肉丝zhurousi,所以菜的名字里有‘鱼’,可是菜里面没有’鱼‘。

材料(ingredients):

  • 瘦猪肉200克
  • 竹笋50克
  • 木耳25克
  • 葱25克
  • 蒜15克
  • 姜10克
  • 红辣椒25克
  • 盐1克
  • 糖15克
  • 醋5克
  • 酱油1克
  • 水50克
  • 淀粉25克
  • 油100克

做法(how to prepare):

  1. 猪肉,竹笋,木耳切qie成cheng丝si。葱,姜,蒜,红辣椒 也切qie一下儿。
  2. 在碗wan里放fang盐, 糖,醋,酱油,葱,淀粉和水,搅拌jiaoban一下儿,做成cheng汁zhi。
  3. 在锅里放一些油,油热了以后放猪肉丝,抄一下儿。
  4. 加姜,蒜和红辣椒一起炒。
  5. 再加竹笋丝和木耳丝一起炒。
  6. 放fang准备zhunbei好的汁zhi抄一下儿,就好了。

第五课,课文二

A 快请进!你是怎么来的?
B 我坐地铁来的。
A 第一次来这里,好找吗?
B 这里挺ting好找的。我在路口问了一个人,他告诉gaosu了我怎么走。
A 你做吧。要喝点儿什么?差cha还是咖啡?
B 老师,不用麻烦mafan了,就喝水吧!老师,您家又干净又漂亮!
A 哪里,哪里!最近你汉语学得怎么样?还有什么困难kunnan吗?
B 现在要是别人说的不太快的话,我都听得懂tingdedong。我说的也可以,就是觉得汉字太难学了。
A 汉字是不容易rongyi学,一定要多看多写xie。

B 老师,这些书法shufa都是您写xie的吗?写的真漂亮,不过有的我看不懂dong。
A 这些都是我几年前写的。我从小就喜欢xihuan书法shufa,每天都要练lian一个小时。
B 我对书法shufa也很有兴趣xingqu,老师您能教jiao我吗?
A 好啊! 你可以跟gen我一边练lian书法shufa,一边学汉字。
B 太好了!这样学汉字有趣youqu多了!

xingqu = interest
gen = follow
youqu = fun

第五课,课文一

A 你在做什么呢?
B 我在学做中国菜呢。
A 你会做中国菜?真厉害!我很喜欢吃中国菜,可是没做过。
B 我以前也没做过,可是一直很想学。昨天去书店买了本菜谱caipu,现在一边看一边做。
A 中国菜难nan做吗?
B 有的挺难做的,有的很好做。
A 你今天打算做什么菜?
B 我打算做宫保鸡丁。
A 我经常在饭店吃宫保鸡丁,今天我要尝尝你做得怎么样。宫保鸡丁怎么做?
B 菜谱caipu上说,先在鸡丁里放fang一点儿盐yan,胡椒粉hujiaofen,黄酒huangjiu 和 淀粉dianfen,然后 等几分钟。
A 几分钟以后呢?
B 然后在锅guo里放fang 一些油you,油热了以后放fang鸡丁,辣椒lajiao,还有葱cong,姜jiang,蒜suan,一起炒。
A 要放fang什么调料tiaoliao?
B 一边炒一边再加一点儿酱油jiangyou,盐yan,糖tang,和 醋,最后放fang 花生米。你看,现在宫保鸡丁就做好了。
A 快给我尝一尝!太好吃了!你这个宫保鸡丁做得真不错!

 

caipu = recipe

第四课,Reading Comprehension

姓名: 林文
性别: 女
年龄:68岁

我妈妈上个星期三(2010年7月3日)上午试点离开likai我家去 附近fujin 的公园,以后一直没有回家。离开家的时候,她穿着chuan zhe 一件粉红色的亚麻yama短duan袖xiu衬衫,下面穿着chuan zhe 一条tiao黑色全面长裤子kuzi,脚jiao上穿着chuan zhe 一双米色的凉鞋liang xie。头发糖tang果,戴着dai zhe眼睛yanjing,可能戴着daizhe 一顶ding灰色heisi的帽子maozi,拿着na zhe 白色的手 提包shoutibao。她身高一米六二,身材shencai比较bijiao瘦shou,右边是她的照片zhaopian。
我妈妈是一个月以前从农村nongcun来的,普通话putonghua不太好,身体也不太好,我非常着急zhaoji。如果你看见过照片上的人,请马上和我联系lianxi。

likai = to leave, left
jiao = foot
liangxie = sandals
dai zhe = wearing
chuan zhe = wearing
na zhe = carrying
shencai = body
bijiao = relatively

第四课,课文二

A 我女儿不见了!你们快帮帮bangbang我吧!
B 您先别bie着急zhaoji,慢man一点儿说。您女儿叫什么名字?几岁了?
A 我女儿叫Zhang Ying,今年六岁了。
B 她个子多高?
A 一米二左右。
B 你女儿长zhang什么样子?
A 我手机里有她的照片zhaopian。你看,她长头发,大眼睛yanjing 。
B 她今天的衣服是什么颜色yanse的?
A 白色的衬衫,粉红色的裙子qunzi。她还戴dai着zhe一顶ding红色的帽子maozi。
B 你是  什么时候发现faxian她不见了  的?
A 二十分钟以前。她说她渴ke了,要我去买饮料yinliao。我回来以后就发现她不见了。我已经yijing在附近fujin找zhao过了。怎么办呢?
B 你别着急zhaoji!我们马上用广播guangbo帮你找。
A 太谢谢你们了!

faxian = discover
yinliao = beverage
guangbo = broadcast
biezhaoji = dont worry!

第四课,课文一

A 我的会hui要是一点才cai结束jieshu,Wang总zong的航班hangban十点半就到,我来不及去机场接jie她了,你替ti我去接jie一下儿吧!
B 没问题。不过我没见过Wang总。
A Wang总五十几岁,个子很高,一米八五左右,不胖pang不瘦shou,戴dai眼镜yanjing。
B  好,我现在就去机场。

B Wang总,您好!我是Liu经历jingli的秘书mishu。他还在开会,我替ti他来接jie您。您到了吗?
C 已经到了! 我现在正在等行李xingli。
B 好,我在出口等您。我穿chuan一条tiao米色的裙子qunzi,那黑色的手提包shoutibao。

B 您是Wang总吧?
C 对!你好!不好意思buhaoyisi,你等了很久jiu吧?北京的天气不好,飞机晚点了一个半小时,十点才cai起飞qifei。
B 没关系meiguanxi! Liu 经理jingli的会也才结束jieshu。他会在饭店等您。
C 你们太客气keqi了!
B 公司的车就在外面,我们走吧!
C 谢谢!

第三课,Reading Comprehension

来中国以后,我听ting很多人说在这里找zhao裁缝caifeng做衣服又好又便宜,所以我也非常想试试。我上网捜索sousuo了一下儿,发现faxian了一个很大的 布料buliao市场shichang (fabric market-place),市场里面有很多裁缝店caifengdian。你可以带dai自己ziji的衣服或者huozhe杂志zazhi去那里,先选xuan料子,然后ranhou请裁缝caifeng照zhao样子做。对布料buliao市场shichang和裁缝caifeng店都了解liaojie好了以后,我和一个朋友一起去了那里。我带了一本杂志zazhi,打算请裁缝caifeng照zhao杂志zazhi上的西装做。照zhao朋友说的,我们选xuan了一家比较bijiao大, 生意shengyi 比较bijiao 好的裁缝caifeng店。老板娘laobanniang看了杂志上的那套tao西装xizhuang以后,帮我选了最适合的料子。我对那个料子也很满意manyi(satisfied)。然后老板娘给我量了尺寸,告诉gaosu我一个星期以后就可以去取qu。一个星期以后,我一个人又去了那个布料市场。我的西装已经做好了。我试一试,质量zhiliang非常好,和杂时尚的西装一样。不过我还是发现faxian了一点儿小问题:肩膀jianbang那里有点儿紧jin,袖子xiuzi有点儿长,裤子kuzi的腰yao那里有点儿肥fei。老板娘 说这些 都不是大问题,都可以照zhao我的要求改小gai xiao 或者huozhe放大fangda。我希望 老板娘laobanniang可以改的快一点儿。老板娘说她马上就帮bang我改gai,我第二天就可以取。

第三课,课文二

A 我的西装xizhuang你们做好了吗?
B 上个周末就做好了。你快试试吧。
A 精子jingzi在哪里?
B 就在门口。你看,这套tao西装 挺合身heshen的,颜色也很适合shihe你!
A 可是我觉得  肩膀jianbang这里有点儿紧jin,袖子xiuzi也有点儿长。
B 是吗?袖子xiuzi我可以改gai短duan,肩膀jianbang这里放fang大的话,我担心danxin没有现在合身。
A 可是太近了。你看,我的胳膊gebo不能动了,这样不舒服,还是放fang大一点儿吧。
B 好。裤子kuzi呢?有问题吗?
A 裤子长端duan正好zhenghao,可是腰yao这里有点儿肥fei。
B 没问题,这个也可以改gai小。
A 那什么时候可以改gai好?能快一点儿吗?
B 我们马上就帮你改,最晚后天可以改好。
A 好,我后天下班以后来取qu。

Tea is the national drink in China. In addition to its prominence A_20scoop_20of_20Organic_20Dong_20Ding_20Oolong_20Tea_2C_20Lot_20134_originalin Chinese culture, tea also boasts many health benefits.

Wulong tea, also known as blue tea, is unfermented tea with unique characteristics. Made from a blend of Green Tea and Red Tea, Wulong Tea boasts the best flavorful and aromatic qualities of both and the health benefits of green tea plus more.

Some of these benefits are still being debated, so please do research if you want to use Wulong Tea for medicinal purposes. The reality is 1 cup of tea a day won’t give you all and you can drink up to 10 cups, but then you may want to consider taking a supplement instead (it would keep you out of the bathroom). Learn more about Chinese Tea.

Weight Loss | Complement Diabetes Treatment | Reduce risk of Heart Disease | Fight Cancer | Lower Cholesterol | Inhibit Alzheimer – Parkinson | Prevent Dental Decay | Reduce high Blood Pressure | Depression | Fight Bacteria – Infection | Improve Skin Health | Boost Immune System | Stimulate Metabolism | Strengthen Capillaries | Ease Arthritis Pain | Improve Memory – Mental Focus | Increase Bone Density

Tea is the national drink in China. In addition to its prominence 2-12030PU324202in Chinese culture, tea also boasts many health benefits.

Yellow tea is produced by allowing damp tea leaves to dry naturally. It has a distinctive aroma, similar to Red Tea, but its flavor is closer to Green Tea and White Tea. Yellow tea is also used to describe the high-quality tea which is served to the emperor, as yellow is the traditional imperial color. Junshan Yinzhen is produced in China’s Hunan province and is the country’s most popular yellow tea.

Although an extremely rare tea, Yellow Tea’s health benefits are famous in tea circles. Although not nearly as studied as Green Tea Yellow Tea is more beneficial. Hopefully with the increase of interest, Yellow Tea will become more available in the future. Some of it’s benefits are still being debated, so please do some research if you want to use Yellow Tea for medicinal purposes. The reality is one cup of tea a day will not give you all and you can drink up to ten cups a day, but then you may want to consider taking a supplement instead (it would keep you out of the bathroom). Learn more about Chinese Tea.

Yellow Tea Antioxidants | Cancer Prevention | Lowering Blood Pressure | Heart Health | Lowering Cholesterol

Tea is the national drink in China. In addition to its prominence in 1351292420_ddf2a3a111Chinese culture, tea also boasts many health benefits.

Red tea is the second largest category of Chinese tea. It is made from new shoots of tea leaves which are wilted, rolled, fermented, and dried. The resulting infusion yields a lovely red color and a subtle aromatic fragrance.

Until recently scientists thought that the fermentation process reduces the health benefits, but it has been found in recent studies that compounds such as Theaflavins and Thearubigens provide many health benefits thought to exist only in Green Teas. Some of these benefits are still being debated, so please do your own research if you want to use red tea for medicinal purposes. The reality is one cup of tea a day will not give you all and you can drink up to ten cups a day, but in that case you may want to consider taking a Red Tea supplement instead (it would keep you out of the bathroom). Learn more about Chinese Tea.

Heart Health | Cancer Prevention | Lower Cholesterol | Tooth Health | Digestive Health | Respiratory Health | Prevents Arthritis

Tea is the national drink in China. In addition to its prominencegreen-tea-leaves in Chinese culture, tea also boasts many health benefits.

Chinese green tea is the oldest and most popular type of tea; it has been enjoyed in China for several thousand years. Green tea is made from the new shoots of the tea plant, and the tea leaves are dried and processed according to the type of tea desired.

The techniques of processing green tea are sub-divided into four categories: stir-fried, roasted, sun-dried, and steamed. Traditional green tea has a pale color and a sharp, astringent flavor. It is produced primarily in the provinces of Jiangxi, Anhui, and Zhejiang.

Green tea has some amazing health benefits – benefits that you may not have been aware of. Some of these benefits are still being debated, so please do your own research if you want to use green tea for medicinal purposes. The reality is one cup of tea a day will not give you all and you can drink up to ten cups a day, but then you may want to consider taking a supplement instead (it would keep you out of the bathroom).

Another thing to point out is that there is caffeine in green tea, so if you are sensitive to caffeine then one cup should be your limit. Green tea also contains tannins (which can decrease the absorption of iron and folic acid), so if you are pregnant or trying to conceive then green tea may not be ideal for you. Learn more about Chinese Tea.

Weight Loss | Complement Diabetes Treatment | Reduce risk of Heart Disease | Fight Esophageal Cancer | Lower Cholesterol | inhibit Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s | Prevent Dental Decay | Reduce high Blood Pressure | Depression | Anti-viral and Anti-bacterial | Improve Skin Health

Tea is the national drink in China. In addition to its prominenceWhite-Tea-Silver-Needle-Bai-Hao-Yin-Zhen2 in Chinese culture, tea also boasts many health benefits.

White tea is unfermented, uncured green tea that has been quickly dried. It is indigenous to Fuijan Province, and is lighter in color than other types of tea with a subtle, delicate flavor. White tea got its name from the tradition of poor Chinese, if they had no tea, of offering plain boiled water to guests and calling it “white tea”.

White Tea has some amazing health benefits. Some of these benefits are still being debated, so please do your own research if you want to use green tea for medicinal purposes. The reality is one cup of tea a day will not give you all and you can drink up to ten cups a day, but then you may want to consider taking a supplement instead (it would keep you out of the bathroom). Learn more about Chinese Tea.

Weight loss | Antioxidant | Cancer Prevention | Lower Blood Pressure | Lower Cholesterol | Heart Protection | Stronger Bones | Antibacterial & Antiviral | Healthy Teeth and Gums | Healthy Skin | Reduces Blood Sugar | Prevents Diabetes | Reduces Stress | Increases Energy

第三课,课文一

A 你要做衣服吗?
B 我想做一条tiao裙子qunzi和一件衬衫。你看,照zhao这个样子做,可以吗?
A 我看看,没问题。你想用什么料子liaozi做?
B 裙子qunzi用亚麻yama的料子,衬衫用全棉quanmian的。
A 好的。你看,这些都是新xin料子。这边bian是亚麻yama的,那边bian是全棉quanmian的,你选xuan一下儿吧!
B 裙子qunzi就用浅qian蓝色的吧。
A 你的皮肤pifu很白,你穿chuan蓝色会非常漂亮的。再看看全棉的料子吧。
B 我也不知道zhidao选xuan什么颜yan色好了。你说粉红色的好还是白色的好?
A 我觉得这两个颜yan色都挺ting适合shihe你的。你做两件吧,白色的衬衫上班穿chuan,粉红色的周末穿。
B 你真会做生意shengyi (so good at doing business!)!这样吧,你给我便宜一点儿的话,我就做两件。
A 我给你打九折da jiu zhe,可以吧?来,我给你量量尺寸liangliang chicun (measure size)!
B 衣服我什么时候可以取qu?
A 一般要一个星期。最好下个星期三你先来试一试,不合身heshen的话还可以改gai.
B 好的,谢谢你!

One day, one of my students in Beijing came into class with his back full of red marks. It looked like pieces of salami stuck to his back, but I am pretty sure it was something else. China uses a confusing mix of modern and traditional medical practices, that amuses and kind of frightens me. I figured that traditional ideas and techniques are incredibly old, still very important in China, and even adopted around the world. I have read about various interesting ideas that I would like to share with you.

We have all heard of Yin-Yang, but what is it exactly? I read that the core belief of Chinese medicine (中医, zhōngyī) is about the yin-yang (阴阳, yīnyáng), and the qi (气, qì) balance in the body and organs. Everything is a balance of yin and yang. Yin 阴 is female, dark and formless. Yang 阳 is male, light, and form. The most basic kinds of qi are yinqi (阴气) and yangqi (阳气). It is said that females have more yinqi, males have more yangqi. The qi is life energy, and its flow in the body depends on the environment and what happens to the body. Injury, physical suffering, and lack of proper food causes a qi deficiency 气虚 (qìxū). As people age, they lose qi. The core idea of Chinese medicine is that people can increase or decrease the various qi’s in the body, by various medical techniques, to create a healthful yin-yang balance. Having in mind that each person and part of the body has an ideal point of balance of yin and yang for optimal health.

If, due to injury or stress, the qi circulation gets blocked or stagnated, all the next medical techniques can be used to unblock the qi channels (called meridians), or increase or decrease the qi in various locations:

Eating
If a woman is sick or weak from a lack of yin qi, she can eat foods high in yin qi such as melons or goji berries or various high yin herbs. Older men may want to take herbal and food remedies, such as drinking ginseng tea or eating seahorse dishes, because they are high in yang content, or get a moxibustion treatment that adds Yang to the body.

Acupuncture
This strange and famous medical technique involves inserting needles at precise meridian points. One of my Dutch friends – Margreet Bouwmeester – has studied and is now specialized in practising this medicine. If you are interested you could have a look at her website – Alona.

Cupping20130526-095126.jpg
This ancient practice isn’t just a Chinese tradition, it has been practised for hundreds and thousands of years across Eurasia and North Africa. The Chinese style uses the acupuncture meridians. It is used to remove yang from the body, and it is appropriate for conditions such as bronchitis, heat stroke, and hot weather-related conditions. The picture shows the temporary marks this treatment left at the back of one of my students.

Herbal Medicine
In many ways, Chinese herbal medicine is similar to Western herbal medicine, though the emphasis is on promoting the yin-yang balance.

Massage
It seems like there are massage parlours everywhere, and there are various styles that are all thought to be good for the health, some of which are more appreciated by Chinese than foreigners.

Medicinal Cuisine Therapy
The emphasis in this traditional method of meal preparation, special recipes, and way of eating is to promote the yin-yang balance.

Moxibustion
This is another surprising technique and is used to add Yang to the body. It is appropriate for women with birthing problems, older men, and cold weather-related health issues. The mugwort smoke is thought to have medicinal properties.

Qigong
Meditation and special exercise, such as qigong and taichi also manipulates the qi balance and the body fluids in the body. Qigong and taichi practitioners think that special exercises and meditation helps the qi in the body to circulate. They think that by practising, they can learn to control the motion of qi, and use the qi to heal injured body parts, cure diseases, get healthier, defend themselves, and live longer.

Also read my post about Taoism, the history of Chinese medicine is tied up with the history of Daoist Philosophy.

第二课,课文三

A 你好,我性‘Zhang’。是公司安排我来面试mianshi的。
B ‘Zhang’阿姨,你好!请进吧!我叫mali。我想你的公司已经对你说过我们的要求了吧?
A 说过了。你有一个孩子。你出去的时候,需要阿姨ayi在家照顾zhaogu孩子。还有一个星期打扫dasao两次房子,洗xi烫tang一些衣服。还有别的事情shiqing吗?
B 没有了,差不多就这些。我想知道zhidao你做阿姨多长时间了?有没有照顾zhaogu孩子haizi的经验jingyan呢?
A 我十七年前来Shanghai的。从那个时候我就开始kaishi做阿姨ayi了。我现在还在一家英国人家里做工作。他们有两个孩子,我在他们家做了四年多了。所以我对在外国人家里怎么做比较bijiao了解liaojie。
B 那很好。我们的女儿两岁半,开始会说一点儿花了。我希望你照顾zhaogu她的时候,最好多和他说汉语。
A 这没问题。
B 我每个星期二和星期四上午九点要去上中文课,十二点半回来。你这两天早上八点半来,可以吗?
A 可以的。到十二点半,是吗?我要不要给他准备zhunbei一点儿中饭?
B 对,到十二点半。早上我会给他准备zhunbei一点儿中饭的,不用太麻烦mafan你。
A 不麻烦,我会做一点儿小孩子吃的东西。
B 我觉得你挺ting符合fuhe我们的要求的。你还有什么问题吗?
A 没有。我就想知道zhidao洗xi烫tang衣服有什么要求吗?
B 没有特别的要求。我给你说一下儿怎么用洗衣机吧.
A 好。

第二课,课文二

A 你好,请问有什么可以帮您?
B 你好,我想找一个阿姨ayi。
A 没问题。请问您对阿姨ayi有什么要求?
B 我希望xiwang这个阿姨ayi不要太年轻nianqing。年龄nianling在三十五岁左右,有在外国人家里工作过的经验jingyan。最好会说一点儿英语,因为我的先生和孩子haizi都不会说汉语。
A 我们有这样的阿姨,不过他们的工资gongzi要高一点儿,一般要三十块一个小时。您觉得可以吗?
B 是有点儿贵。不过要是阿姨很好的话,我觉得没问题。
A 您需要阿姨一个星期去几次?每次工作多长时间?
B 一个星期三次,每个星期一,三,五的下午,一点到五点。
A 你需要阿姨ayi做哪些事情shiqing?
B 打扫dasao房间,洗餐具canju和衣服。要是下午我出去的话,他要帮我在家照顾zhaogu一下儿孩子haizi。
A 你们需要阿姨做饭吗?
B 一般不用。不过要是有时候她能帮我做几个中国菜,我们会很高兴的。
A 好的。我们一定会给您安排一个好阿姨ayi。
B 麻烦mafan你们了!你们安排好阿姨以后请给我打电话。

第二课,课文一

A 您好!这里是Dongfan Fangchan 中介。
B 你好!我看见在你们的网站上有一套tao房子。想了解liaojie一下儿。
A 是哪套房子?六十平方米的还是八十平方米的?
B 是六十平方米的,在八楼lou,每月租两千二的那套。
A对不起,那套房子已经没有了。您对房子有什么要求?我可以帮您看看别的biede房子。
B 我想在Changning区租一套,一室一厅,五十平方米左右,最好靠近kaojin地铁站ditiezhan。
A 您希望租是多少?
B 房租最好在两千五左右。不过一定要能上网。
A 好的。您打算从什么时候开始kaishi组?租多长时间?
B 我打算从下个月就开始组,租一年。
A 好的,我看一下儿。。。现在这里有两套tao房子都dou符合fuhe您的要求。你什么时候来看看房子?
B 这个周末,可以吗?
A 可以。不过很多人都想租这里的房子,所以您最好快一点儿。
B 我知道zhidao了,谢谢你!

第一课,课文三

A 您好,请问有什么可以帮您?
B 你好,我是上个星期买的这个手机。可是现在只能发fa短信duanxin,不能收shou短信duanxin,还经常没有信号xinhao。你看,现在就没有信号。
A 我看看。。。信号是不太好。我帮您看一下儿吧!请等一下儿。
B 大概dagai要多上时间?
A 三分钟就可以了。您可以先在那里坐一下儿。
B 先生,您的手机没问题。可能是您的SIM卡出问题了。您看,我给您的手机换了一张SIM卡,信号马上就好了。
A 现在信号是好了。可是换手机以前,这张SIM卡一直没出过问题啊!一定不是这个手机的问题吗?
B 我觉得不是手机的问题。不过我们也可以再给您的手机做一下儿测试ceshi,这需要一点儿时间。
A 要多长时间?收费shou fei 吗?
B 一般要一个工作日。您带dai发票了吗?在保修期baoshouqi内nei的话,我们不收费shoufei。
A 带了。我是上个星期买的,当然dangran在保修期baoshouqi内nei。我明天再过来拿我的手机,对吗?
B 对,明天下午四点以后您方便fangbian过来吗?
A 明天下午我有事youshi,没办法banfa过来。上午可以吗?
B 很抱歉baoqian,上午我们不一定来得及laideji。
A 这样啊,那我后天上午再过来吧!
B 那也可以。

Conventions signed by Beijing include: 

  • Assistance in Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency Convention;
  • Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention;
  • Chemical Weapons Convention;
  • Conventional Weapons Convention;
  • Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident Convention;
  • Inhumane Weapons Convention;
  • Nuclear Dumping Convention (London Convention);
  • Nuclear Safety Convention;
  • Physical Protection of Nuclear Material Convention;
  • Rights of the Child and on the Sale of Children,
  • Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography Convention (signed Optional Protocol);
  • Status of Refugees Convention (and the 1967 Protocol).

Treaties include:

  • Test Ban Treaty (signed but not ratified);
  • Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous, or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (Geneva Protocol);
  • Treaty on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Pelindaba, signed protocols 1 and 2);
  • Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons;
  • Treaty on Outer Space;
  • Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco, signed Protocol 2);
  • Treaty on Seabed Arms Control;
  • Treaty on the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone (Treaty of Rarotonga, signed and ratified protocols 2 and 3).

China also is a party to the following international environmental conventions: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, and Whaling.

* Treaties signed on behalf of China before 1949 are applicable only to the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Source:
China, CIA World Fact-book

第一课,课文二

A 您好,您要干洗衣服吗?
B 你看,这件大衣我是在这里干洗的,可是你们没有洗干净,上面的游子邮资youzi还在。
A 我看一下儿。对不起,我们是没有洗干净。我们再帮您免费mianfei干洗一次,可以吗?
B 好吧。这条tiao裙子qunzi我明天晚上要穿chuan,现在干洗来得及laideji吗?
A 干洗一般要一个星期。您明天要穿的话,我们可以帮您加急jiaji,不过要收shou加急jiaji费fei。
B 加急jiaji费fei多少钱?
A 一条20快。
B 加急jiaji的话,我可以明天下午3点以前来拿na吗?
A 3点以前可能来不及laibuji。5点的话,一定没问题。
B 好的。这里还有3条裤子kuzi,清汤tang一下儿。
A 这些也需要加急吗?
B 这些不用。

第一课,课文一

A 您好,这里是客房部!请问有什么可以帮您?
B 你好!我是5008房间的客人。房间里空调的噪音太大了,我没办法meibanfa休息!
A 非常抱歉baoqian!我们马上安排人去看一下儿。

A 先生,对不起!空调是有点儿问题。可是现在已经12点了,师傅们都下班了。今天没办法meibanfa修了。

B 噪音这么大,我怎么休息?
A今天晚上您不开空调,可以吗?
B 房间里这么冷。要是不开空调,我会感冒ganmao的。
A 您觉得冷的话,我们再给您加jia一条tiao被子beizi, 行吗?
B 那样会很不舒服的。我一定要有空调。请给我换一个房间。
A 请等一下儿,我们看看有没有别的房间。

A 您好,先生!我们可以给您换房间,房间号是608, 现在您就可以过去go over。
B 谢谢!

第十课,一

我换工作了!现在我是一家美国公司的中国区销售xiāoshòu总监zǒngjiān。以前我在一家韩国公司负责fùzé销售xiāoshòu。我在那家公司工作的时候,销售业绩yèjì一直做得不错。不过我希望自己zìjǐ能进jìn更大的公司,有更多的发展fāzhǎn机会jīhuì。上个月我听说了这家美国公司正在招聘zhāopìn中国区销售xiāoshòu总监zǒngjiān。去面试以前,我好好儿准备了一下儿。我一共面试了三次,每次面试大概一个半小时。他们通知我可以去上班的时候,我真开心啊!现在我的工资zī比以前搞gāo得多。因为公司离我家很远,所以公司给我安排了车和司机sījī。我每年还有一次去欧洲ōuzhōu或者huòzhě美国培训péixùn的机会jīhuì。朋友们都很羡慕xiànmù我。可是我的业余yèyú时间比以前少多了。以前我每个星期最少去两次健身房,现在一个月最多只能去两次。周末还常常要和客户kèhù吃饭。看见我的工作这么忙,父母有点儿担心dānxīn我的身体shēntǐ。不过我觉得我还很年轻niánqīng,累lèi一点儿没关系guānxi。

第十课,二

我的老家在农村nóngcūn。农村孩子háizi的发展fāzhǎn机会jīhuì比城市chéngshì里的孩子háizi少得多,所以我一直很努力nǔlì。我是一年以前大学毕业bìyè的。我找工作找了很长时间。最后和一个小公司签qiān了工作合同。工资zī不高gāo,可是我已经觉得很不错了,因为我能继续jìxù留liú在这个城市chéngshì里了。
一个人在大城市里 生活shēnghuó 挺不容易róngyì的。以前我从不做饭,也不会做。可是去饭店吃要花huā更多的钱qián,所以我开始kāishǐ学做饭,现在已经能做得很好吃了。
我现在租的房子又小又贵,房东对我也不好。上个星期我的同事tōngshì给我介绍jièshào了一套tào房子,就在他家附近fùjìn。房租比现在的贵guì,可是小区离公司很近jìn,我可以走路上下班。房子也更新xīn更大。下个星期我就要搬bān家了。我希望以后能多挣zhèng一点儿钱qián,能买一套táo房子,接jiē我的父母和我一起住zhù。

Interesting Phrase
"吃得苦中苦,方为人上人。"
“Only those who endure the most, become the highest.”

道可道,非常道。A way that can be the Way, is not the usual way.
名可名,非常名。A name that can be a name, is an unusual name.

The lines above are the opening lines of the Dao De Jing (The Way of Power and Virtue Scripture, 道德经) that is the main religious text of Taoism. How to translate the words into English and what the words mean is obviously the mystery of Dao. The word Dao means Way. The Way of Life. The Meaning of one’s life. In usual Chinese usage, the word “dao” means path or road. Nowadays, the name Taoism is used as a general name for any kind of native Chinese religion or ancient belief. The term covers anything from Qigong or Tai Chi exercise, to ancestor worship, to belief in any of hundreds of gods or reputed immortal people, Read More →

Chinese Kung Fu, (also known as wushu or Chinese martial arts) is one of the most well known examples of traditional Chinese culture. It it is probably one of the earliest and longest lasting sports which utilizes both brawn and brain. The theory of Kung Fu is based upon classical Chinese philosophy. Over its long history it has developed as a unique combination of exercise, practical self-defense, self-discipline and art. In sports like track and field, ball sports, weightlifting, and boxing, an athlete typically has to retire from full participation in his 30s. Injuries sustained during years of active sport participation at a young age can that affect our health in later life. In Chinese Kung fu however, a distinction is made between “external” and “internal” kung Fu. It is said that “In external kung fu, you exercise your tendons, bones, and skin; in internal kung fu, you train your spirit, your qi, and your mind.”

Chinese Kung Fu is a large system of theory and practice. It combines techniques of self-defense and health-keeping. It is estimated that Chinese Kung Fu can be dated back to primeval society. At that time people use cudgels to fight against wild beasts. Gradually they accumulated experience of self defense. When Shang Dynasty began, hunting was considered as an important measure of Kung Fu training.

In Beijing I have been taught a bit of Kong Fu by the locals:

第九课,Reading Comprehension

上个月我租的房子合同hétong到期了,我一直觉得房租太贵了,所以考虑一下儿,决定换一个地方住zhù。 上个星期天我搬bān家了,在公司附近fùjìn租了房子,方东fángdōng是Shanghai人,房租也不贵。可是里的家电质量zhìliàng都不好。星期一热水器坏了,房东打了服务热线fúwùrèxiàn,叫师傅来修。星期二晚上,我想看电视以后,电视又坏了。房东告诉我这点是从去年到现在一共修了三次了,他只好马上又打电话叫师傅来修。星期四的时候,冰箱bīngxiāng也坏了,我给房东打电话,他很快就安排了一个师傅来修。到了星期五的晚上,空调kōngtiáo也坏了,现在是夏天,我真不想租这个房子了,可是房东说要是我继续jìxù组,他就给我换一台空调tái kōngtiáo。上个星期因为师傅来修家电,我经常请假qǐngjià,老板已经很不高兴gāoxìng了。现在我要再考虑kǎolù一下儿,要不要继续jìxù组这个房子。

真是左右为难啊!zhēn shì zuǒyòu wéi nán a!(to be in a dilemma)

qǐngjià ask for leave

第九课,课文二

A 下个月我们的租房zūfáng合同hétong就要到期dàoqī了,你还想继续jìxù组吗?
B 这里的房租太贵guì了,我正在考虑kǎolù换huàn一个地方。
A 你觉得贵?我的房租比小区里别的biéde房子便宜piányi多了!你要是不相信xiāngxìn,可以去问一问。
B 可是这个房子太老了,家电也经常坏。比如bǐrú电视,从去年到现在一共修了四次。
A 电视是去年新买的。它的质量zhìliàng不好,我也没办法méibànfa啊!
B 现在冰箱bīngxiāng也有问题wèntí,里面吃的东西都坏了。
A 我已经打过热线rèxiàn电话了。师傅shīfu明天去修。
B 空调也不行,房间里热死了rèsǐle!
A 你看这样好不好?你要是继续jìxù租,我就给你换huàn一台空调táikōngtiáo。
B 我在考虑一下儿吧。
A 你什么时候能决定?
B 我一个星期以后通知tōngzhī你。
A 好吧!