Farewell

As some of you may or may not know, today is my last day teaching here at the study bar. I hope I have made it clear to you that I am a person who wants to save the world, and although it is not probable that I will truly save the world, I believe I can still make a difference by doing something little everyday. Thus, I hope I have not only helped you with your English studies, but have also made a contribution to your life; I hope that what I have talked about in and out of class has not gone to waste. If you remember and analyze what we've talked about, then I would have achieved my goal.

In the 8 months that I've taught here, I have purposely picked important topics to discuss because I believe it is a way to develop society and humanity in general. I know that not all of you were interested in those topics and I know that some of those topics might have been completely foreign to you, but I can only hope that discussing about these matters has given you insight into the future.

I am glad to say that I have learned a lot from you. You have given me a chance to see inside Chinese people's minds and as a result, I can definitely say that if we all just think more, we would be able to understand each other better. I do not believe our minds work very differently and even though there are differences between our cultures, I believe critical thinking can surpass these differences and ultimately unite us.

So here I must leave you, our journey together has come to an end, it is time for you to be more independent. I honestly hope that you will further develop yourself and pursue your passions.

Letter

To my fellow philosopher,

I am writing to you today because I have a message to give you. We do not know each other, but we are nevertheless connected through our commonalities. Both of us have trouble maintaining friendships because it is all too rare to find people with whom we can connect. We both receive, at best, tolerance from society due to our “radical ideas.” And both of us struggle with our own faith in humanity because of the ubiquitous stupidity in this world. So you see, we are similar, you and I. And thus, I must tell you this:

NEVER STOP THINKING!!!

The world needs people like us, whether they want to admit it or not. We are the spine of morality, the foundation of principle; without us, society would drown in its own blindness. I dare not say that ethics would not exist without us; I do believe it is something that lives in everyone. However, I do dare say that without us, other innate characteristics might be dominant, and this, my fellow philosopher, is not acceptable. So never be discouraged; our work is too important!

Moment of Silence

Yesterday in class we had a moment of silence for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake; we all stood up silently for 3 minutes. And as the cars were honking and as I was standing there, I realized something. We are human. Normally, when I live my life and see people walking on the street, I see bodies going back and forth. Everyone is going about their day and making money, and that's it; everyone is just doing their own thing. I don't feel the human in people, more specifically, I don't feel the compassion in people, the love in people. I mean, I do see people laughing and getting angry, but I want to see more than that.

Every time I walk by a homeless person, I get a little nervous because I know I'm not going to give them money. I know that I'm going to look straight ahead and just numbly walk by and I know most people do the same thing. So where's the compassion in us? Where's the love? I have realized that the moments when I see the most sympathy is during times of crises. Just like the example with the moment of silence. Sadly, it seems that we need disasters to invoke these feelings out of us. However, what is good about this is that it shows we are still human. It reminds us, or at least it reminds me, that we as people still have love and compassion.

Premiere

I just came back from the premiere of my video “Ethnicity and Identity” and I have to say it was pretty successful. I reserved a room at the study bar and it was pretty much packed (about 20 people). I invited the people who I interviewed as well as my friends and they all seemed to have liked it. I had so much energy the whole day, but I couldn't do anything except think about the event; I had all the things I needed to do running through my head.

I still can't believe that I actually finished it; it feels like I really accomplished something. What's interesting is that when I look at my Bachelor's degree, I feel nothing even though I spent 4 years working towards it, but when I watch my video which took 3 months to complete, I have this inspirational feeling. I have no plans on becoming a documentary film maker, but I can't control my interest in making another video. I'm thinking if I make another one, it would be on Neo-Nazis.

Mental Hospital

I went to a mental hospital today. One of my friends studies social work and this was part of her course, so I just tagged along. I have to say it didn't turn out to be how I expected it; it wasn't nearly as crazy as I thought. I was imagining a big room filled with people doing the strangest things. For example, maybe a catatonic person who was in a weird position, another person yelling at nothing and maybe even someone with delusions of grandeur giving a speech as if he were Mao Zedong. But there weren't any, it wasn't like that at all. Most of them just stood around like they were normal people. In fact, just by their appearance alone, I couldn't tell that they had mental disorders. So I guess I can say that I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting a scene out of a movie. Oh how ignorant I was!

We had the chance to speak with a few of the patients; one of them was excessively happy and the other two were delusional. The excessively happy patient was a 5'10 14 year old boy who was very pleasant to talk to. The delusional patients, on the other hand, were very depressing to be around with - just listening to them speak was extremely tiring because they spoke with very little logic. I can't even imagine how tired the doctors must be being around these people everyday. I applaud them for their strength and discipline!

Responsibilities

Today at the study bar I asked a few students to give me objective reasons why pornography is bad and within 5 minutes, two out of the three left the table. My role at the study bar is to teach English, therefore I feel that my responsibilities surpass teaching grammar and vocabulary, I believe it is necessary to converse with the students, to connect with them. Language is more experience than knowledge. My students have to use their English if they want to improve it.

Moreover, I believe that the content of our conversations should be important. I don't want to talk about the weather, I don't want to talk about food; I want to talk about life and death, I want to talk about what makes us human, I want to talk about passion. But maybe I am at fault and should not talk about such things; maybe I should just teach them the language and fulfill my duties as a language teacher. But what of my responsibilities as a human being? What of my role in this social network we call society?

Is it bad that I want to fulfill both my obligations as a language teacher and a human being by conversing about important matters? I hope not.

The Danger of Patriotism

If I were a government, it would be most likely that I would want to keep my power. In order to safeguard that power, it would be necessary to eliminate or minimize opposition, whether it be political or social, and an effective way to neutralize opposition is to make people love me. To attain this love, I must convince the people that I am doing what I can to improve their quality of life and I would rather not let them know of any information that says otherwise. And in the case in which the people find out controversial information about me, it would be necessary to convince them that I were the “good guy.” In other words, if I were a government, I would want the people to be patriotic. Their patriotism would blind them and thus, would make them malleable; patriotism easily turns into chauvinism. And in the case where there is still opposition, it would be necessary to label them unpatriotic, to publicize that they do not love their country and it is very possible that the patriots would do this for me. It is in this way, not exclusively of course, that I could possibly stay in power, if I were a government.

Shanghai Visit

I've been in Shanghai for a few days now and it's been great hanging out with Joseph. I usually don't get to hang out with him because we're always at different places so I'm definitely appreciating this opportunity. Sometimes I forget how difficult it is to have a person who you can really talk to, especially if the topic is philosophy. I love the fact that we can chat about it; I finally get to fully share all my deep thoughts with him. Besides talking about philosophy, we also bring up funny stories from our past which is always hilarious. It reminds me of why we are close friends and it gives me a sense of home.

We went to a nearby label factory that makes all types of tags for clothing. We had a personal tour guide who showed us the thousands of labels they make as well as the different assembly lines. It was my first time being in a factory and I have to say that I came out of there pretty depressed. Going through the different rooms of the factory, I rarely saw the workers interact; most of them just sat there and did their task (pretty diligent I guess). It was like I was observing robots. Seeing people with passion and life makes me very happy, so when I see the opposite, I'm very disappointed. Maybe those workers do have passion and life, I'm not saying that they don't and I'm not blaming them, all I'm saying is that I saw robots and it made me depressed.