Archive | October, 2006

The UK imagined

22 Oct

For some Asian students, the UK is not as what they first expected. 

I’d always wanted to visit and understand the UK. The country has centuries of impressive history in science, arts and modern civilization. Science invention grew here. Industrial revolution started here. Enid Blyton’s caravan family ‘lived’ here. Democracy grew here. I expected modern country with open-minded people because the country already has a long period of learning. With those notions, I came to UK.

Heathrow airport made my heart sank. The airport is neither new and modern nor old and elegant, it simply looked old and unfriendly. After half-an-hour queue, I was greeted by a friendly officer. I was happy again, at least before he sneered at me and said,”Wales? They talk funny.”

During the orientation week at the university, I got to know a Chinese and an Irish. One afternoon we walked down the streets of Cardiff to familiarized ourselves with the city. The Irish was looking for a post office.  The Chinese asked her ,”Why do you look for a post office?” She replied,”I want to send letters.” The Chinese was genuinely surprised,”You mean you still send letter? That’s the traditional way.”

“Why their separate the taps for hot and cold water? The hot water is too hot, the cold is too cold. They should use one tap to control the temperature,” a Singaporean girl complained. “Even the new buildings use that.” Well, she does not have hot water supply in Singapore home, but it’s a simple rational that there should be a good mix of hot and cold water. So one day we asked some Welsh friends about it. The reply was because that was how it was done. Isn’t it a too-comfortable answer?

The discussion on veil surprised me too. In BBC’s your say, there are so many people who supported Jack Straw; some gave intolerating comment such as the idea that minority must follow the lifestyle of majority. It’s suppression in gentler way, just like what happened in developing world countries. I knew what it is to be minority – I was one in my home country. I know what it is to be suppressed.

Well, despites the unexpected, I still like the country especially its freedom of speech. The buildings are beautiful, even though not as nice as what pictured in the glossy magazines. My one month experience is not enough to make a good judgement. There are still many faces of the UK (more exactly Wales) I am yet to find out. It’s exciting to know UK better, inside out.  

Watching documentary

18 Oct

There are few points that a lecturer said before he showed us a documentary:

Always remember this: Do not take documentary as representation of truth. It is not. Documentary is used to point out an opinion. The facts are build around the opinion. Documentary is not the end of the idea. There are history and agenda behind documentary.

In short, he was saying that documentary is usually loop-sided.

How then you know what is truth? By getting information from both sides. Read widely on various sources. That’s the only way.

New China

16 Oct

cimg9232.JPGI started reading about China for my assignment on China-USA relationship. A friend recommended this book. It turned out that the book was not about the relationship, but about China’s road to communism. It’s written interestingly by its journalist-author. It gives an overview of the history just within 113 pages with 12pt font and 1.5 spacing. However, I’m rather skeptical with its balance – it gives the feeling a propaganda – because it shows only the successes of the communist party. I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand China’s early stage nationalism movement but the book must be absorbed with caution.

NEW CHINA Friends or Foe?

Written by Alun Falconer (First published in 1950)

Rule#1: Make significant interesting

16 Oct

Howard Barrell, my lecturer in Cardiff, told the our class which full of journalist wanna-be:

“You want to know the rule of thumb of a good journalist?”

“It’s to make significant interesting. The key is interesting, interesting, interesting.”

“When I was a young abnoxious journalist, I had important stories to tell. I thought that it was so important that everyone had moral obligation to read it. But it’s not the case. The more significant the story is, the greater my obligation to make the story interesting so that people will read it.”