Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wo hen hao.
Wo zai Shanghai.
Ni zai na li?
It's Alice Tuan.
I'm real good.
I'm in Shanghai.
Where are you?
In my life, I'm usually a playwright and writing workshop facilitator.
But the fates have whisked me back to my roots as an English as a Second Language teacher, and I will be teaching nurses at the Shanghai Lida Polytechninic Institute for the next 10 months.
I've been in China for a week now already;
actually in the Westchester/Burbank of Shanghai, 30 minutes out,
in a suburb called Songjiang.
China's a trip and a half. Two trips. Make that three even, with all the constant cultural revolution. I was last in China, whoa, 23 years ago, in the South of China at a Normal University in Guangzhou (Canton for all you old colonials). (And 'normal' in China means teacher's college, and is not a 'regular needs' category).
That was the 20th century and I was fresh from college and ready to do the Roots/Peace Corp discovery of my identity, and party like it was 1985. (It was). Like China and Deng Xiao Ping had just opened it's doors to the world for six years. (It had.) Running like a valley girl from the abstract science of economics, where guns and butter were just not enough to approximate the constant market current and how humans actually choose.
Now it's the 21st century and China is on the upswing and I am fully invested in not only the stage as a playwright, but also the world as a theater. So much to report, outside of any agenda. So much to value, without any price tag. So much performance, without any direction. So many words, in need of contextualization. So many mooncakes, to admire just one moon. So much spontenaity, to make that much more fun.
As I fall down the whole to the other side of the globe, I'll know some things, forget some things, figure some stuff out, learn about what's been right in front of me, ignore that which is absolutely not true, be illuminated by the multitudes and then wonder about the rest.
Already I feel the lift, having extracted myself from the superpower media-saturation of the United States, and feel myself locating a more natural mind. A quiet time before classes begin to sort what has been what, and what will be will be (Que sera!).
What really is it to be a human in the 21st century?