Showing posts with label Guangzhou. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guangzhou. Show all posts

Monday, February 17, 2020

Alexander Lee Returning to USA

In an effort to be as responsible as possible, I have come from Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport (CAN) to Beijing’s (PEK) this morning and should arrive at 1:30 PM on Monday at New York’s JFK Airport (JFK), where I shall rent a car and drive northwest for several hours. I will be staying for two weeks in Upstate New York within a four-and-a-half hourdrive of Toronto, where I expect six year-old Naomi to arrive on or after March 2—the end of my two-week quarantine and what will be the beginning of hersMy journey is contingent on a promise from Yaya that she will fly Naomi, a Canadian citizen, to Toronto as soon as practicable, and today, Monday, February 17, visit the Canadian Consulate in Guangzhou to obtain a visa to accompany or come join her daughter, of whom I am not (yet) the legal guardian. Please keep her and Harry, who we do not believe will be able to leave Guangzhou, in your prayers.

I believe that the Chinese government is doing its darnedest to contain this, as the economic effect and political fallout from failure to contain the coronavirus known as COVID-19 could well be catastrophic for vast swaths of the population and the regimeThe Guardian continues to be the best source of information for me and many othersAgain, I encourage a contribution to this British newspaper. The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet (also British) have published peer-reviewed articles that I commend. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is a reliable governmental source for a lot of important information about the disease, its prevention, and treatment, as well as important updates.

Most restaurants in Guangzhou are on a take-out and delivery basis only; the streets are quiet and everybody is wearing a mask in public (notably not the recommendation of CDC even in Trump’s America, which I am sure is chummy with 3M, the major manufacturer of the coveted N95 type facemask). School will not resume without a week’s notice and no earlier than Monday, March 2, the end of my self-imposed quarantine period. Our island, where Yaya, Naomi, and Harry will remainuntil they are able to depart, is in great shape with no reported illnesses. We have been watching movies almost daily since returning from a five-day vacation to Sabah, Malaysia, during the Chinese New Year holiday, baking and cooking a healthy diet of mostly vegetables, and taking long walks or bike rides along the surrounding abandoned riverside pathsThe Year of the (Metal) Rat has come in like a tiger, let’s hope it goes out like a ram.

I will be doing a Forks Over Knives diet for my two weeks of self-imposed captivity, as well as teaching on-line for two sections of AP US History, one section of AP Environmental Science, and two sections of English Language Arts for my very understanding employerZhixin High School. This will keep me busy on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings for the next two weeks or beyond. As the Chair of Social Studies Department, I will carry out my other duties from afar as best I can until such time as I deem it safe to return. In the meantime, I am doing a fund and materials drive to get 110 washable, re-useable N95 masks for when everybody reconvenes on campus. Please let me know as soon as possible if you want to contribute or help with the procurement or mailing part of this effort, especially since the postal services and airline cargo services are slowing down.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

One month in Guangzhou

It is Sunday, October 1st, China's National Day. This is the day in 1949 when Mao stood before throngs at Tian'anmen Square beginning his stint as Supreme Leader of the People's Republic of China.

Chiang Kai-shek was in Taiwan with his trainload of national treasures and archives. Major General Claire Chennault was home in Texas, fomenting hatred of communism and Truman. Uncle George was finishing up at Harvard, unaware that he would be dead just over three years later, from the Korean War. My father was a sophomore at Milton Academy and my mother, just a five year-old girl in Hingham, MA.

We will also celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival on St. Francis' Feast Day (October 4), gobbling high-calorie mooncakes and enjoying another mandatory day of vacation.

Today is also the day, since my arrival on September 1, on which I have made my fourth trip to IKEA. I am getting settled. I have a desk now. I have placed it looking out the window. If I look to the left, I can see the Canton Tower from the sliding glass doors to my balcony. If I peered over the edge of the windows in front of me and looked down at the hoop-less basketball courts below, I would see a group of middle-aged (and older!) women dancing to the same horrible music that they blast every night. I am wondering how long that will last.

My building is 26 stories tall and has a 27th floor, which is a roof deck. I went up there today and imagined the possibilities, with its great view of the Pearl River (Zhujiang). If it was not always about 96-degrees Fahrenheit, it would be a fun place to hang out. I also descended into the bowels of the building, where a parking garage will soon open. Like most urban communities in China, the complex is gated and we are no longer allowed to bring Mobikes and Ofo bikes onto the premises. That said, there has been a flat-tire derelict Ofo at the gate to my building for days and I have sent Ofo three messages about it. There is a small store with wilted vegetables and other businesses are springing up on the first floor, which is designed with big glass storefronts for residential commerce.

I have a gym membership and seem to go when almost nobody is there, which suits me since my moobs still jiggle when I use the elliptical, spin bike, or treadmill. Getting on top of my weight has become a priority, because I sweat incessantly all day long. The weather is unbearable, but I came in with my eyes wide open about that, which means that they sting from the sweat dripping into them.

I have made a lot of new acquaintances. Tomorrow I will go to a birthday party for the owner of the home where my own birthday spread was held, but first I will lead an Oklahoman colleague and her husband to the Chen Clan Ancestral Home. We will meet at 10 AM at the Canton Tower Subway stop. I went to a movie a couple weeks ago with a sculptor friend. I see a lot of YaYa (丫丫), whose marble showroom is still being constructed.

I have been reading a lot. May I recommend the story just published in the Nikkei Asia Review, Xi Digs in for the Long Haul, for a close look at Chinese politics? Also, let me recommend Sinocism, which is the work of a fellow Middlebury College alumnus.

Democrats Abroad hosted a conference call with Elizabeth Warren a couple weeks ago, whilst she was sitting on her balcony in Cambridge, MA. I participated in that and have begun some outreach to American Democrats in the Pearl River Delta (PRD). Not surprisingly, there seems to be quite a bit of activity in Hong Kong and not much in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, or the other big cities nearby. ("The nine largest cities of PRD had a combined population of 57.15 million at the end of 2013, comprising 53.69% of the provincial population." Wikipedia.)

I am also the newly appointed co-consul of the InterNations Guangzhou Coffee and Tea Group, which will mean that I need to work to organize monthly tea gatherings.

Work has me teaching 2.5 year-olds and 40 year-olds with zero English, high school history to one boy, English to the tri-lingual and engaging seven yer-old daughter of an American, and running about eight Phenomena-Based Learning activities in the coming days. Still trying to figure out how the place works.

Yesterday, I went for my medical check and got my chest X-rayed, which no American doctor would have done. They took blood in one room, looked in my ears in another, had me do an eye chart in another room, then I shuffled down the hall to have an ECG. The results will come on October 11.

Other trips have included a visit to the Flower Market and yesterday's trip to Hey Tea, which is a popular new "fashion drink" outlet with epic lines.

This is a rambling laundry list of different tidbits since my arrival. Whether I continue in this format will be based on how many people read it to the end...so if you have made it this far, please leave a quick comment. If you follow me in other mediums, some of the content is redundant. My apologies.