HELLO, BEMIDJI READERS! How wonderful it is, the ease with which I can stay connected with all my old neighbors…from 7,600 miles away. In fact, technology allows me to reach out to more of you from here in China than I could if I was right there looking over your shoulder. So when I made the decision to move here, I knew I had to take advantage of this capability.
Because the fact is, we all have ideas of what China and the Chinese are like. And the news can’t get enough of it—China this, China that. But even with all this coverage, there’s nothing like the impact of actually being here. Man, there’s a big gap between what I used to think and what I think today! You may not be here, but I’ve been writing, taking pictures, and shooting video since August of last year. Over the winter, I reached out to Minnesota newspapers to feature my material. And wouldn’t you know it?—the Bemidji Pioneer and I have hooked up.
But much more than a Chinese tutorial, this blog is about the lessons learned when living in any foreign land. It’s about the novelties of travel, and it’s especially about the observations and insights gained.
Ultimately, it’s about reaching new plateaus of understanding about who we are.
Who I am: My name is Brandon Ferdig. I was born at North Country Regional Hospital on May 15th, 1981. My family lived in Blackduck—you know, that little pin prick on the map about half-hour north on highway 71. Actually, we didn’t live in town. We were about 4 miles east on a plot of 30 acres of forest and fields.
I left town at 18 and lived the last ten years or so in and around the Twin Cities. I realized that my heart was set on writing and journalism. Blogging, a cable access program, and an internship with the St. Paul Pioneer Press provided a great foundation.
I also started to travel, and the way these experiences blossomed into writing led to the eventual decision to move to southern China, to a city on the ocean called Zhuhai (Pearl of the Sea). For work, I have been teaching the Chinese children and adults my mastery of the English language. (Don’t worry, I give them the Minnesota edition.)
Basically, I moved out here to “get to know the world”. It hasn’t disappointed. Today, I’ll catch you up on some of the images, experiences, and lessons learned since my arrival.
First and foremost, this blog is about people. I bumped into this fisherman my first morning in China:
“Yesterday, I caught a mermaid.”
Some of the older folks like to take advantage of the community exercise equipment:
“I will get into that size 2…”
And here’s a character with his companion:
The local monkey-man wants money for a picture--though it compromises his little friend.
Some salt-of-the-Earth laborers:
Porkmen on the job.
I wrote a couple articles on the lives of the disabled. It said a lot about the social system in place here and the type of character embodied in these folks:
Not your classic Disney scene, but a loving couple just the same.
Armless, but quite capable
A study of people includes what they do collectively–their culture. This Buddhist funeral service brought up issues of death, religion and the afterlife.
A young man bows before the deity.
The Chinese have adopted most of our holidays. Here’s a pic from a Halloween event:
Nice job fulfilling the cute quota, girls.
And of course, there’s the famous cuisine:
Get your snakes and turtles here!
I’ve had my chances to participate, too:
All these years, I had no idea chickens came with a head.
One time, I was hosted by a student’s family. Here’s me giving dumpling wrapping a whirl, as well as learning about life for this middle-class Chinese household:
'Brandon, why don't you just give that to me', said Father.
Back at the Halloween bash…
This is what I signed up for?
And, yes, I’m a teacher. This experience speaks volumes (and can be a little in your face):
Certainly, life here is different in some funny ways:
You can’t make this up. Yes, those are cigarettes.
Different in some modern ways:
And full of natural beauty:
Each of these photos represent a chance to compare our lives to something different. This fresh view is enlightening.
If you’re interested, all these photos (and their articles) were taken from my blog, www.NewPlateaus.com. There, I’m in the midst of a travelogue covering a recent excursion to Cambodia and Vietnam. I got to walk with crocodiles, celebrate a Cambodian wedding, see 1000 year old temples, and look into the “eyes” of hundreds of human skulls.
You’ll also notice the “fan box” for my Facebook page and my Twitter feed to the right on this site. Join up. Otherwise, I’ll be providing regular posts right here which you can subscribe to as well.
Welcome to my blog; I’m excited for the opportunity.
to new plateaus,