November 29, 2010

Grey days and film debuts

Today was grey and rainy in Hangzhou. I woke up this morning to the sky being its usual nondescript self and decided that it would most likely be sunny today. Only in China could a sky lack so much personality that it's difficult to decide whether to bring sunglasses or an umbrella with to work. I chose wrong and ended up having to buy quite possibly the most hideous umbrella known to mankind: a hot pink leopard print number with lace-trimmed edges.

Whatever, it kept me dry.

The grey day got Alex and I down. I spent all day on campus alone while she stayed around the apartment since she didn't work. It's disturbing how alone a cold, damp afternoon can make you feel. To counteract our loneliness, we went out to eat at an American restaurant. It was a classic American-looking pub with great bar lighting, tall stools, and inviting and cozy Christmas decorations. 

We chatted with an American expat who started his own company in Hangzhou and has been living here for the past four years. He dished out career advice and his opinion on America's troubles while we dined on a duck wrap (Alex) and a club sandwich (me). I even ordered a beer because I was craving one -- and I never crave beer. 

His career advice was a little disheartening, he told us to do whatever we could to learn Chinese and then if we go back to school, acquire a hard skill or trade. My friends, Alex and I are the queens of soft skills -- like communication, international relations, human security, group communication, leadership -- all of these fluffy concepts that the world does in fact find useful, but only when paired with minds molded towards engineering, economics or business.

He said to find a job that involves both the US and China, because right now neither country holds the crown and according to him the US is losing ground as fast as China is gaining it. He has a point I suppose... it's a messy world out there.

In other news, the documentary I filmed this summer aired today on Al Jazeera English, which reaches 200 million TVs worldwide. Ironically, I won't be able to watch the film until I get home. The internet here doesn't recognize the link. I will share it with you all though, so I hope you can take the time to watch it and most of all, I hope you learn something from it. I haven't seen the final cut, but I poured a lot of my heart into the piece. Though the oil boom back home has benefits, after interviewing a number of people for the story I came to realize that the consequences of it are far greater than the fat savings accounts many people now have back home.

Feel free to disagree with me, though. I'm definitely open for debate. 

Enjoy my friends: Ghost Town to Boom Town 

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