One of the fun things for me about the “Rise of China” and the prominence it continues to gain in Western media, economics and culture, is reconnecting with old friends from the China side in sometimes random ways. A few months back, for example, my old friend Caroline Reeves hit the blogosphere, guest-posting at China Beat with a History of the Chinese Red Cross, (and part two). I knew that was her research topic back in grad school, but didn’t figure it would ever be part of the popular discourse.
More recently, I discovered that Carsey Yee, another good friend from the days when we read more than we graded, has started making Olympics-oriented instructional videos as a hobby. (( At least, I think it’s a hobby. They’ve gone to a great deal of trouble, but if there’s money involved, it’s news to me. )) He’s paired up with John Weinstein as “The Two Chinese Characterstm” and they offer slightly goofy, but very clear, little clips. The first, embedded below the fold, is about the proper pronunciation of “Beijing.” (( Hint: It’s not French. )) They’re trying to get to 8,888 views before 8-8-8, and they’ve got less than two hundred to go. The second teaches some basics of cheering in Chinese, including the official two-clap-thumbs-up-two-claps-fists-up cheer approved by the Chinese government. The existence of an official cheer is, in itself, an interesting political and cultural fact: I’ll be watching to see how much it’s in evidence during the actual events.