Meet Tammie Pearls, recent graduate of the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China, linguist, traveler, blogger, and a former contestant on China’s most popular dating game show. The Wall Street Journal has a piece on her experience in China:
On the first day, the show’s chain-smoking director laid down the law. He told us not to ask about the zodiac signs of the male contestants, and not to say that distance between where we live is a problem, because this is a national program. Finally, he warned us not to post naked pictures on the Internet. “This is a Communist show!” he emphasized…I received hundreds of emails that began something like this: “I was born in 1986, I’m 180 cm tall, and I weigh 70 kg.” Some added their salary information and one man didn’t even bother with an email; he just sent his résumé. Some attached photos—one guy sent 18. In a throwback to love letters from the days of the Cultural Revolution, one email began with a quote from Mao, but ended with an acrostic poem in Chinese based on my name. Some men claimed that their affinity for American culture attracted them to me; others said they liked me because I didn’t seem like the typical American girl. One man wrote, “I have always wanted a mixed-blood baby, but there are no foreigners in my village.”
I see conflicting opinions in China every day. Is capitalism a blessing or a curse? Was Confucius a wise sage or a superstitious old man? Is America the “beautiful country,” as it is called in the Chinese language, or a terrifying figure in world affairs?Such doubts are echoed by American concerns about China. Both countries are like successful dating-show contestants, imagining a life together after 15 minutes live before the world.
This is great stuff, and Via Meadia will follow Tammie’s posts. By getting her own unique take on day to day life in China she is educating herself; by sharing it with the rest of us she’s doing an important service. The US and China need to know one another better, and whether Tammie gets her Chinese husband (and baby) or not, she’s doing her part to make this a better, more interesting world.And by the way, if there are any young Americans out there learning about the world (which includes the United States) and blogging their adventures, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.