Beijing – Exploring New Neighborhoods – May 27

Adam Johnson:

Jadon and I started the day by meeting up with our Beijing normal student, Olivia and two of her friends, Fay and Sue. We walked around the perimeter near the Temple of Heaven to check out a few of the supermarkets for our project which provided some interesting insights to our research project, primarily what popular brands of alcohol were and what age group liked which type. After the supermarket we hopped on the number 60 bus, which cost only 2 Yuan, to head to Hou Hai.

The Don

Hou Hai is a popular destination in Beijing for tourists and locals, a beautiful market district surrounding a lake. One could see globalism in action, matcha ice cream and Peppa Pig tee shirts, deep fired crab and french fries. One of my favorite moments of the trip also happened in Hou Hai. A portrait artist who draws tourists and I drew one another! The drawings came out great and it was really cool meeting a fellow artist. After finding a few pubs and alcohol stores we stopped and got dumplings. The five of us were wiped out after food so we headed back to the hotel, where I gifted the girls an American honeycomb dark chocolate bar.

After some much needed RnR, Jadon and I got KFC (surprisingly good I might add) and met up with our fellow EASC 360 classmates in SanLiTun. Although the neighborhood was nothing remarkable we still had a fun time and stayed in groups til we got back at a reasonable hour 🙂

Guys playing a game in Temple of Heaven

Ron Dardashti:

Athlete’s Foot went to go meet with our Beijing normal students in front of the Bank of China headquarters however we took a few wrong turns when getting off the subway and ended up in an alley! However after a short 15 minute detour we finally found Shirley (our Beijing Normal student) who brought Emma with her. Emma and Shirley go way back. The two of them took us to four malls that were surprisingly all right next to each other, and even featured all of the same stores.

Cool America!

We then got a delicious Hong Kong style lunch with Emma and Shirley which we all agreed was the best meal of the trip so far. After the meal we parted ways and thanked them for all of their help the past couple of days. Once we got back to the hotel we linked up with the Caramel Macchiatos (Sofia, Carolina and Ana Lucia) and then decided to go to the Temple of Heaven and then the Silk Market. We all had a blast bargaining over items we wanted to buy. I ended up getting a few t-shirts and some wallets.

Crab and French Fries

Once we finished at the silk market we decided to get in ‘touch with our roots’ and went to McDonalds, thanks to Carolina’s good eye we were able to spot the subway station and head home!

Globalism in Action

Dumpling house with Beijing Normal students

Walking around the Lake

Draw and Person while they draw you!

Wedding Pics

Nice restaurants with the crew

May 26-27, We Made it to the Top!

Ana Lucia Rivera & Leah James 

The big day finally arrived and it was time to climb the Great Wall! We started the day by going to the Ming Tombs. After, we went to lunch at a jade factory and were off to the Great Wall. The steps seemed to be never ending, but eventually all of us were able to make it up. Ryan, Jadon, and Leah K were the first ones up shortly followed by Leah and Kyle and everyone else close behind. The wall was a long trek, yet there were little kids making it and there was even a woman at the top in heels. We enjoyed the view that was slightly clouded, but it was rewarding nonetheless. On the way down, many of us rewarded ourselves with a well deserved ice cream bar.

We had a long drive back to the hotel, but on the way back we stopped at the the site of the 2008 Olympics and saw the stadium. After dinner and a quick shower some of us decided to treat ourselves to a foot massage right next door to our hotel.

Sunday was fieldwork day and each team met up in different places with the Capital Normal students that were helping us with our projects and getting around Beijing.The Caramel Macchiatos team met in Nanluoguxiang, a popular pedestrian street with many small shops and full of trees. The street was captivating and lively, we were very lucky to be able to see more of Beijing while still doing our work. We were very surprised to find that most cafes were also bars and restaurants. Athletes foot met up with their Normal students in Xidan and went from mall to mall exploring the different athletic wear brands.

After fieldwork, some of us went to the Temple of Heaven right by our hotel and experienced its beauty. In order to get to the temple we had to walk through a park where many natives were playing cards and such in the cool shade. We finished our day with going to the Silk Street where many were able to use their new favorite phrase “太贵了” or “taiguile” (too expensive) and worked on our bargaining skills.

BEIJING IS FINALLY HERE!!!!!

Image

Jadon Joyner & Sabrina Hsu

Though all of us are tired from traveling, the first 2 days in China have been filled with splendor and excitement. The day before our flight, we all went to sleep (some stayed up) in anticipation for Beijing. We boarded the plane realizing we won’t see our homes for at least 2 weeks and the nerves and anticipation settled in. Many of us left with Professor Sheehan for the group flight and had to leave at 4 in the morning. But we did get to eat amazing sweet potato bread that Professor Sheehan baked for all of us! Our layover in Vancouver was a great time for all of us to bond – we went shopping and food-hunting in the beautiful Vancouver airport. 13 hours later, we are in Beijing where we meet our Beijing tour guide, Thomas ( Liu Jin Cheng). He is incredibly informative and very knowledgeable about the history of Beijing. The whole group meets up with Adam, who had arrived in Beijing 12 hours before the group, and we have our first of many group meals. This meal delicious!!! It was many of our first times eating “lazy susan style” with dishes placed on a large, glass circular platter in the middle of the table. We learn about toast etiquette.

Our first official day in Beijing, we visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We are all blown away by the sheer size of the square. This square fits over 1million people during the cultural revolution. We then see the massive picture of Mao as we enter the Forbidden City with over 60,000 other tourists.

Fieldwork days allowed us to get so much closer to our groups. Roaming around Beijing on our own was also a unique experience that fostered closer friendships as we all struggled (but later succeeded) to find our way to multiple locations, ensuring a decent sample size.

Our nights always end with some activity with the entire group – or at least those who are still awake participate. Being in an environment other than an academic one, hanging out and exploring Beijing are some of our favorite memories.

Day 7: 再见洛杉矶!

Kyle Murphy & Ryan Beringer

“Goodbye Los Angeles!”

It’s the final countdown! Less than 24 hours till we’re in Beijing and we couldn’t be more excited to land! To start off class we listened to some Chinese popular music provided by the amazing Professor Sheehan that was about freedom and individual expression dating back to the beginning of the post-Mao era. After everyone arrived, Professor Sheehan started a discussion about the details of the cities we will be visiting in China. Starting with Beijing and ending with Shanghai, Professor discussed the main sites we will be visiting as well as the means of transportation we will be taking (taxi and subway) and it seems that every city is better networked than LA. In addition to how we will get around in China and the places of interest, we discussed the density of people in the main cities we will be visiting and it was insane to see that Zhengzhou hosted more than 6,000 people per square kilometer, that is one packed city! Professor Sheehan also noted that in the past decade these cities have exponentially grown, boasting populations of tens of millions.

As we discovered, this exponential growth entails some social costs. In previous lectures we discussed how many individuals in China believed there was a moral degradation in their country. In today’s readings, we discussed freedom of sexual expression in both the Disco reading which discussed a young urbanite population in China that looked towards global trends to express themselves as well as the “Clothes Make the Woman” reading which discussed sexual commodification of China’s disadvantaged rural population. With the end of the Maoist era of communism, China developed a huge economic disparity between rural and urban populations. It was evident in the readings that the urban population of China had the choice as to how they want to sexually represent themselves while the rural population of China who moved to the cities lacked this freedom. More specifically, the women moving from rural villages to work in factories were often scammed for free labor and as a result of mounting debt, found their only option was to sell their own bodies.

Lastly, we were given our second quiz of the class that focused on an advertisement for a Chinese domestic car company that advertised directly to Shanghai consumers.

Two days before we leave to China!!!

Sofia Cortes and Stacey Belyaeva

May 21 – 2 Days Left!
Over the weekend we had to write a two page paper analyzing an advertisement relating to our research topic and today we began class by showcasing our findings through an informal presentation. Our class groups have chosen to research very distinct topics so it was fun to examine a variety of images ranging from Starbucks products to Chinese fashion, medicine, and nightlife. The example below is of a Chinese Nike advertisement presented by our classmate, Ron, who plans to study sportswear in China.

This exercise demonstrated how far globalization has spread to transverse international boundaries, while at the same time often assuming prior global knowledge. Professor Sheehan was right in saying that “after this class we will never be able to see advertisements in the same way again.” I learned that all the components and positioning within an advertisement has a strategic meaning or purpose.

After a short break, we were informed that we got a new TA! Unfortunately, our old TA is not able to accompany us on the trip and since there are a few people (like me!) who can’t speak any Chinese I was a bit worried about fighting over Professor Sheehan’s time. But luckily the problem was solved and it will be very nice to have another person to help!

We then continued our lecture about Chinese history, focusing on the time period from 1975 to the present day. Specifically, the transition from Maoist Socialist rule to Deng Xiaoping’s leadership and introduction of capitalism. What I found most interesting was the movement towards the “four modernizations” which looked towards a more global future in industry, agriculture, science, and military post Mao rule. This new addition to the Chinese mentality strove for better international relations and openness, helping to accelerate China’s economic growth to eventually become a world power.

Towards the end of the lecture, Professor Sheehan also talked about how globalization leads to Chinese consciousness of international culture and news. For example, the slide above shows a Chinese citizen holding a banner with the phrase “Clinton, we’re not Monica” after the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. This is a perfect example of a newfound Chinese understanding that with globalization there is access to an international audience and knowledge.

We wrapped up our class today by discussing the last few chapters from Consumption in China by Lianne Yu who writes about topics such as censorship, morality, consumer rights and more. Her book helped highlight the significance of “neo-tribes” and the “virtu-real” world whereby in China the crossing over between the physical and virtual world has become seamless.

May 18 – “It’s Friday!”

Leah King and Carolina Souza

It’s Friday! Only 4 more days till we are off to China. Today we discussed our main course text, Lianne Yu’s Consumption in China and global connection from 1945 – present. We had very interesting discussions regarding the Lifestyle and Commodification chapters. Some interesting points from the chapters discussed the lifestyles of the younger and older generations and how that influenced their consumer behavior. Specifically, we learned a lot about the extent of the one-child policy to modern day Chinese consumer culture.

Discussion and Finalization of Group Names *Snacks as a courtesy of Papa Sheehan and Jadon

Planning our research method together with our groups

In addition, we came up with our group names and continued researching our topics. One group name is called The Caramel Macchiatos because they are researching about Starbucks and coffee shops in China. Another group called  保健品(baojianpin) is researching about Chinese traditional medicine and Western medicine. After finalizing our group names, we met with the rest of our group to come up with a straight-forward, clear research plan and design. By planning ahead and making sure that the research plan is easy to follow, we save time in the field.

Lastly, we wrapped up the first week of classes with a very engaging lecture about Global and Chinese Interactions in the period of 1945 to present. Learning about Maoism and a global movement with student and revolutionaries and the cold war world gave us an important background to analyze China’s upcoming cultural revolution and class structure. We now only have two more lecture days before boarding to China, and can’t wait to apply our new skills on the ground.

Say No to Expat Bubbles

Jenny Cheung & Sarah Bourek

Today during lecture, Professor Sheehan talked about the global connections forged from 1850 to 1925. After the Age of Exploration came the colonization of African and Asian countries by Europeans. Manufactured goods were exported from Europe, and trade in precious metals, slaves, drugs, and food-drugs was facilitated by globalization. The Gold Standard also helped standardize currency conversions, but excluded India and China from the world trading system because they used silver. In addition to trade, global connections were also forged through wars such as the First and Second World War and the mutiny in Bengal India. Technologies also helped improved the way people communicated and traveled. For example, the Steam Engine allowed for people to travel faster by steamship or railroad, and the building of the Transatlantic Cable revolutionized the way people communicated. The results of this global connection was felt when the Great Depression destroyed the gold standard. Previously, an economic recession may only affect the country it takes place in, but due to this interconnectedness, the Depression affected many countries outside America, causing for protectionism to increase and for the world to divide into competitive economic blocs.

After some lecturing, we started our class discussion on the first readings in our main course text, Consumption in China by Lianne Yu. Much of our discussion centered around consumer habits of “Singletons,” generations of Chinese people who were born during the One-Child Policy and grew up in the economic reform period. The “Singletons” are socially unique as all of their family’s resources are focused solely on them. Our discussion continued to elaborate on the marketing implications for these generations of Singletons. Another major point of discussion was Yu’s commentary on the role of the Chinese government in the supply demand relationships of China’s increasingly Capitalist economic model. The CCP has released some control but not too much. Our class discussion lead to remarks on government censorship in China, exploring why and how it’s implemented.

We then had time with our groups to develop our project ideas and find a picture for our papers due Monday. Some of the group project topics are athletic footwear, coffee shops, Chinese medicine, alcohol advertisements, and Meter/Bonwe- a Chinese store that positions their brand as Western. Regarding the development of our research project, we decided to narrow down our research topic from simply Fashion to street wear sold by a Chinese clothing company called Meters/Bonwe. We are interested in investigating how they market themselves as a foreign company through analyzing their advertisements, the design of their clothing, and the layout of their stores when we arrive in China. Fortunately, we were able to locate at least one Meter/Bonwe store in each city in China that we will be traveling to, so we will also be able to identify the types of customers that shop in Meters/Bonwe stores. Through analyzing the way they advertise themselves as a foreign company, we hope to draw conclusions about the impact of globalization in China as well as what the ads reflect about China’s consumer culture.

Last but not least, Professor Sheehan shared stories with the class about mishaps in past Global East Asia trips. He advised us to be weary of people wanting to “practice their English” with you, they may take you to a tea house and a bar and you could be left with a hefty bill. Follow the golden rule: don’t do anything to freak out Professor Sheehan and be conscious of ‘expat bubbles’ in China.

Picture found by Jadon Joyner: “The toxic expat bubble”

Day 3 May 16 – Delicious Treats

Ron Dardashti & Adam Johnson

We started our class with Adam’s SnackAttack! (Thank you Professor Sheehan for the policy.) He brought an interesting combo (Pineapple and Wasabi Peas)…they were of course a palatable pair.

Adam: 
Professor Sheehan began by introducing us to post-Columbian exchange trade and a newly formed colonial culture. During this time the Spanish and Portuguese dominated much of export of new world resources such as gold, silver, slaves and a variety of food drugs. They imported things such as disease, earthworms and religious oppression. The new network of trade was largely grafted onto pre-existing networks, with the Spanish trade networks outlasting the Portuguese. These networks did not only extend into the Americas but also into Asia, with the example of Macao in China as one of the remaining Portuguese trading posts, and remaining under their control until 1999. The introduction of food drugs such as coffee, tobacco, sugar, and opium gave rise to the creation of Corporations, including the Dutch and British East Indies companies. Interestingly these corporations strove for monopoly status with protection from the governments of their countries of origin. The repercussions of colonization and corporatized structure are being felt to this day.

Ron:
After Professor Sheehan’s lecture on post-Columbian exchange trade ended. We all finally downloaded WeChat! We spent about fifteen minutes getting acquainted with the app and then started to add each other to our Global East Asia Groupchat! Then after we all had each others contacts, we broke into our research groups to further think about and analyze our intended research topics. In addition, we all started talking about out group names! So far we have not all decided about our topics but my group (Ron’s group) decided that our team name will be “Athletes Foot” because we are researching athletic footwear.

 After we finished meeting with our groups we got a chance to use our “Toolbox” through our analysis of a Chinese Lay’s Chips ad. We practiced our thesis building skills in addition to using evidence driven arguments. Finally, we wrapped up with a quick lecture on the Ming and Qing dynasty. Interestingly enough, China’s culture is much less isolationist than we all previously had thought. Professor Sheehan portrayed to us how open minded of foreign cultures the Chinese people really are by showing the Qing dynasty palace that was replicated to look like Versailles.

Day 2: May 15th – Just Getting Started

Leah James & Ana Lucia

Our second class began bright and early on a great note with Jadon bringing in a cheesecake for the class, and Adam assigning himself for snack duty due to the late-to-class bring a snack policy. We began our day confirming everybody’s flight plans, since many are flying on their own instead of on the group flight due to their own travel plans after our time in China.

Right after we wrapped up the flight details, Papa Sheehan finished his lecture on the geography of China. We learned about “China Proper” and how to differentiate the north from the south and the east from the west. We learned that the north is characterized by flatter land and produces wheat whereas the south is known for producing rice and silk. Professor Sheehan tested our knowledge, at first with easy pictures but then used pictures with more complex possibilities. Through the exercise, not only was he able to trick us, but he was also able to exemplify that, like most things in life, there are always exceptions and nuances to the rules and everything is not as straightforward as it seems.

In terms of our research projects, we all went around the table and shared our possible interests in order to form groups. A range of topics were discussed like coffee shops, footwear, toothpaste, public restrooms and more. Professor Sheehan gave us two useful ways of thinking about our potential projects. One, that the issues we are looking at have enough similarities so that the differences are meaningful, and the other, that there are so many differences that the similarities are interesting. We were all able to find groups with similar interests, with some compromise, and planned rough ideas for what our topics will be about.

After our group meetings, we discussed the readings that were due today, which led to learning helpful terms like hybridization, but also led further questions such as the actual relevance of acculturalization and the existence of true authenticity, since we often forget there is more than one way to look at any particular situation. One of our main takeaways from the discussion was that in this class we are not trying to define globalization, instead we are trying to analyze situations and ask ourselves “what type of globalization is this?” We concluded our second day with a practice quiz examining a bike advertisement in order to understand how to use our tools while analyzing an ad and how to properly form a thesis statement.

Day 1: May 14, Beginning of A Journey

Jadon Joyner & Sabrina Hsu

The class started with a sense of hesitant excitement, where our classmates sat next to each other, fully aware that we will be spending our first month of summer together, but still weren’t comfortable enough to make small talk. However, Professor Sheehan’s mini introduction activity – what he called “twitterographies” – allowed us to get to know each other better. His emphasis on remembering everyone’s names by Wednesday (or else we have to bring snacks for the class) also helped us pay more active attention to our classmates. Professor Sheehan also went over some rules and basic orientation topics, such as the importance of being punctual (again, threatening that we’ll need to buy snacks) and general safety precautions once we get to China.

On the academic front, we discussed Eriksen’s Globalization: The Key Concepts and Hobsbawm’s The Invention of Tradition. Not only did we learn more about globalization, but also started assembling our “toolkit”, where we will carry with us to dissect evidence during our fieldwork in China. This toolkit consists of things we should be aware of and concepts that we can use to better understand and analyze what we are presented in support or contradiction to our arguments. In the case of Hobsbawm’s article, we learned that nothing should be taken without an ounce of skepticism, and critical thinking is key in any knowledge intake. We also have a list of things we should look out for when analyzing visual evidence, and it is a useful compilation of items we can use for our quizzes and for a deeper understanding of advertisement or visual evidence in general. To use this visual evidence tool, Professor Sheen had the class analyze every aspect of this image in order to understand the message, intent, and meaning of this advertisement.

This exercise helped reinforce the concepts we had just learned while also preparing us for our field work in China. On top of that, we were repeatedly exposed to the fact that globalization is not one, simple concept or phenomenon, but rather one that is complex, multi-directional and multi-dimensional – this makes the topic harder but infinitely more interesting to explore and dissect.