Getting There is Hard Enough
Hello all! At this link you will have the pleasure (at least I hope so) of following a young American man—who speaks virtually no Chinese—while he spends the summer of 2011 in Beijing, China. This blog will ideally be filled with excitement, happiness, sadness, stress, and a few good adventures. I’ll be honest, this first entry is pretty sorrowful, so do not let it hamper your dreams of travelling halfway around the world to experience the Chinese culture. Oh yea, and in case you are wondering, my name is Jason Curtis Fortin. I am going into my senior year at Bryant University in the Fall, where I major in Economics and Global Politics. This summer I was graciously offered an internship at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Global Policy Center in Beijing, China. Read More>>>
May 30 - June 5
Recap of My First Week
This past week was my first of ten weeks at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Global Policy Center. Honestly, I was not sure what to expect. I have a few months experience at one think tank and wondered if my role was going to be the same. Although there are a few similarities I could draw upon -- which are perhaps simply ubiquitous to the think tank (perhaps even non-profit) world -- I will focus most of my time describing how this center is exceptionally different from others. This positive difference has positioned this center on a flourishing and impactful path. Although only an intern for five days, the immense amount of work that was accomplished by such a small institution and new staff is incredibly impressive. Read More>>>
Rice, the Military and Cycling
This past week began on the ideal note—a national holiday called the Dragon Boat festival ( duan wu jié or ???). As a result, I had the day off from work and was able to explore a bit more of Chinese culture and dine on some zòng zi (??). The Dragon Boat Fesitval celebrates the life of Qu Yuan ( qu yuán or ??), a Chinese poet, and is highlighted by the Dragon Boat Race. Qu Yuan was a minister to the Chu emperor during the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC) and was outspoken against corruption within the imperial court. He was eventually banished and branded as a traitor while still holding onto his patriotic love for his emperor. When Qu Yuan learned that Qin warriors overthrew the Chu and had sacked his capital city he fell into a fit of despair and committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo River. Read More>>>
Luxury Goods and TGYH
The beginning of this past week started on Sunday night at Haagen Dazs near the Wudaokou subway station. A few friends were all craving some ice cream, which is not as readably available as it is in the States, and knew there was a Haagen Dazs right down the street. The Haagen Dazs is located in the U-Tower which is famous (at least among the foreign crowd) for housing overpriced foreign products such as Pizza Hut. However, I thought to myself, how could ice cream be as expensive as described? I arrived at Haagen Dazs expecting to find a bowl of ice cream for a few dollars, but was taken off guard. Read More>>>
Massage and Liver
Friday night I took my first trip to Sanlitun (via subway which was packed—see picture) in the Chaoyang District. Sanlitun is famous for being the foreign area of Beijing, and is must if you are craving a cheeseburger, burrito or anything western. I’ll be honest, this area is also littered with bars and clubs. Now enjoying a little bit of home sounds great and all, but it also costs a ton.
Saturday I met up with a friend and fellow Bryant student Sam Davidowitz, who just arrived in Beijing and is interning near Shanghai this summer. He previously studied Chinese at Beijing Language and Cultural University in the fall of 2010 and is quite familiar with the area. We moseyed on over to his favorite restaurant from his study abroad time. Read More>>>
Pizza on the Resume
Two of the Carnegie scholars teach a class at Tsinghua, and the semester has just ended, so the center threw a good-bye party for the students. I was invited to the party, as it was held right after work on Monday, and was very excited to attend. Not only do I enjoy free food and socializing, but the center had ordered pizza for the students. I was instantly on the hook. Having worked at a pizza restaurant for four years it is difficult for me to go longer than a month without having a slice. I should not have gotten my hopes up. Similar to most food that is transplanted from one area to another, pizza was quite different in Asia. We had ordered form Mr. Pizza which is actually a Korean chain established in Seoul, Korea in 1990. It has 9 locations in Beijing and even a location in LA’s K-town. Read More>>>
Company Retreat in Shidu
To mark the end of the spring semester and celebrate the success of the Center’s staff and interns, all employees went on a “company” retreat to Shidu, 'the Guilin of the North.’ Shidu scenic spot is a two-and-half to three hour drive from inner Beijing, yet it is still in Beijing. Confusing right? How could a city be three hours wide? That’s almost as long as it takes to drive from Cape Cod to NYC. Well Beijing is huge and is not just a “city.” It is technically classified as a metropolis, which ironically has no clear definition or classification. Beijing is the size of small provinces in China and has equal status of other provinces. It is accompanied by Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing as the four direct-controlled municipalities in the PRC. A Tsinghua University student explained to me that large cities, such as Beijing, try to expand their territorial control in order to secure more government funding—hence the 3 hour long drive to stay in the capital city. Read More>>>
Next blog entry is coming soon...
In Summer 2010, Jason Fortin participated in a research trip to China with Prof. Judy Barrett Litoff and Prof. Gaytha Langlois. The adventures are documented here .