From Chinese Public School to University to Workforce

Teacher Student Time

It’s common for us to praise countries like China, Japan, and Korea on their teaching methods. Of course, their math scores frequently deliver a spanking to American children and the future of American students gets even gloomier from there. The results are in the numbers and the proof is ample, but this educational success doesn’t come without a cost. As we attempt to compete academicaly, and globably, this cost has been (or is still being) experienced by American students with mixed responses from their administrators. At least the few administrator I’ve talked to were not full of praise about their new exam-based system. Continue reading From Chinese Public School to University to Workforce

Don’t Donate Money to Japan?

Non-MonetaryDonationCash Donations Post-Disaster

A clever writer at Rueter’s stirred up controversy recently with an opinionated article titled “Don’t Donate Money to Japan“. He has a point, although written quite offensively to many, which has made me think twice about sending cash immediately after a disaster.  A Yahoo Japan donation page recently showed that over $7,100,000 has been raised since the earthquake. You might be thinking, “Go us!”… but it certainly is peanuts compared to what governments shift around on a daily basis for foreign aide and one-off assistance. I’m not saying we should stop donating money to disasters like the recent one in Japan, but we should use our brains a little more before doing so.

It’s true that we feel good about ourselves afterwards, but there are MANY other ways we can help out. The donation issue has motivated me to do something about it. I’m going to put direct links on AL.ME to non-cash requesting organizations. The delivery food, drink, clothing, toys, study materials, etc. You send them products that haven’t expired or are in good condition, and they will wholeheartedly deliver to those in need. Yes, they also need money to run their organization, but they will find that money in other ways… the common man need not worry!

One of the needy organizations at this moment, which isn’t getting much attention is Second Harvest Japan.
* Food & Beverage (MUST be unexpired): rice, canned items, retort-pouch food, food for elderly people, baby formula and baby food
* Items for Baby & Elderly People (MUST be unopened): baby diapers and adult diapers
* Items for Soup Kitchen(MUST be unused): paper plates, paper cups, plastic spoons, plastic forks, chopsticks and saran wraps.

Donated food and supplies will be used both in the disaster zone and outside the zone to reach those in need.

Or send donations directly to local governments:

1. Foods (instant foods, dietary supplements, baby foods)
2. Warm blankets (That north part of Japan is still really cold now)
3. Clothing
4. Baby clothings, and DIAPERS!!!!

Attn: Earthquake relief supplies
Miyagi Prefectural Office
3-8-1, Honcho
Aoba-ku, Sendai city, Miyagi
980-8570, JAPAN

Attn: Earthquake relief supplies
Iwate Prefectural Office
10-1 Uchimaru Morioka city, Iwate

Attn:Earthquake relief supplies
Aomori Prefectural Office
1-1-1 Nagashima, Aomori city,
Aomori, 030-8570, JAPAN

Attn:Earthquake relief supplies
Fukushima Prefectural Office
2-16 Sugitsuma-cho, Fukushima City
960-8670, JAPAN

Japanese Radioactive Rain

"Japanese Earthquake! That's great!"

In the past few days, since the earthquake/tsunami crisis in Japan, a lot of rumors have spilled over into the rest of Asia. With a death toll climbing, there has been an awkwardly friendly tone between the Chinese and Japanese. Chinese QQ groups often send each other a gif (animated picture) of laughing Chinese farmers with a caption about how the great news happening in Japan… I guess we (Americans) aren’t the only ones with twisted humor!

Visit Second Harvest Japan to donate food and supplies to victims who still need assistance. Thank you!

But with all the political rhetoric that exists we are merely human and quite gullible! Since the nuclear reactor explosions, there have been notices about how we should not go outside during rainstorms because of the acidity circulating in the “Asian weather system” right now. It’s possible that the Koreas and Northeast China might be effected, but its really hard to believe this would effect Southern China… about 2,000 KM away from Japanese ground zero. The jet stream makes it literally impossible.

Fukushima, Japan

As far as dangerous rain, we should be used to it here in the industrialized parts of China. Pollution has been spewing into rivers and lakes for decades! For the sake of the locals, let’s hope that the current situation isn’t deemed “acceptable” now that the acid rain rumors have been washed out to sea.

Neighbors of Japan have also expressed legitimate fears of what has emptied out of rain clouds immediately after the nuclear power plant in Fukushima (ironically translated as “Good-Fortune Island”) exploded. After spewing illegally-toxic radioactive water into the sea, many neighbors of Japan have begun to react. People are keeping children home from school on rainy days all across Northeast Asia.


High Speed Rail Around Asia


High Speed Rail (HSR) is not new to Asia, although the biggest network is now being constructed in China. HSR has been in Asia for decades and is getting upgraded all the time. As you experience various countries across North Asia, it is important to get familiar with these amazing trains and be sure to work them into your trip! The thrill of legally speeding at 340 km/h (210 mph) on the ground is an awesome feeling.


I was lucky enough to experience the early HSR in South Korea (called KTX), which opened just as I arrived there in 2004. It speeds across the country in just under 3 hours. Of course Korea is pretty small, but the KTX beats the 5+ hours car trip plus $60 tolls.

Continue reading High Speed Rail Around Asia

Zhuhai Hospitality – Nan You Hotel

Waterfront near Nan You Hotel, Zhuhai

March 5, 2007 – 6:30pm Meeting with Sabrina, Nan You Hotel (Guest Services Supervisor)

When I first arrived offering free English lessons, the response clearly was…. “What? C’mon, what do you really want in return? There’s no FREE LUNCH,” which translates directly between both Chinese and English. My intentions were simple and I stated them clearly: “I have never taught Hotel or Business English before and I’d just like to practice here at your Hotel. If I succeed here, then I’ll try to offer this service to more hotels with foreign guests.”

Although still a bit skeptical, the Guest Services Supervisor was eager to oblige and meet me. Our first meeting happened tonight and I think I’ve learned so much from it. Really, I think this was extremely valuable, or invaluable in crazy English.

Here are brief summaries of the points, so I can recall them:

1. Departments using English most in their jobs- these include face to face with guests.
a. Reception: Check in/out, currency exchange, phone problems, etc.
b. Housekeeping/maids: Problems with utilities, rooms, materials
c. Coffee shop: Ordering, problems, bill pay, small talk.

2. Low level or “First Line Staff,” in the departments above, communicate with foreign guests most, of course.

3. HR department is best to contact first.
a. They organize the annual “Hotel English training course.” Attended by ALL staff. This is a service that is tapable, i think. Could be expanded to bi- or quarter-annual.
b. HR prefers the supervisors/managers who speak English well to teach in house. It’s not worth hiring outside help to teach the first line staff directly. Too costly.

4. Community style hotels rent out spaces for restaurants, massage parlors, gaming areas, and driving ranges. Those employees are separate from the actual hotel, but HR is still the right place to go to include them.

5. Remember: don’t ask too much of one person who is not a higher manager. They can’t just ask people to do things like in Western countries. It will isolate them from their colleagues and it’s unfair. Slowly, meet the others and test the waters until something useful surfaces. You’ll never get what u ask for! You’ll get a Chinese version. Accept this and you’ll succeed.

6. Hui Yi Shi- Meeting rooms: Rented out by the hotel for business purposes. Not offered for in house language training… at least that was “said,” but the meaning could be something else. Instead, the dorms were suggested as a meeting place.
a. HR director gave me a very typical response to something they don’t want to do… Basically, “We can have these English lessons in the dormitory meeting rooms, but unfortunately, these rooms are still under construction.”
b. Don’t solve their “problems” for them. They are only saying this as a way to tell you “no, we disagree, or just we aren’t interested.” Reminds me of when i asked for a 3rd teacher at our college… I pushed at that time and I learned the hard way.

7. English Corner is one style of training they might be interested in. Supervisors need experience with casual English encounters. This will support their further tasks when cooperating with foreigners.

8. FIND out where these Foreign guests come from! 80% of the the foreigners at this hotel are from JAPAN. I realized this a bit late. The HR director obviously has other priorities here.


I’m starting to sense the real demand in this market. THIS is one way to find out the parameters of what I need to do. I’m just putting myself out there, for free, and getting slapped around! You should try it sometime, you might just enjoy what you find!

At the end of the day, I realized that so much research is needed before creating plans for what I want to do here in Zhuhai– create a consultancy for the Language needs of Resorts, Hotels, and businesses. Maybe I will have to seriously consider including Japanese to this plan…

– Ben杰明

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