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Archive for September, 2013

Celebrating the launch of a new book and author

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

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Rita, my dear friend, always hosts the best Christmas Party—with tons of delicious food and drinks, and the presence of what seemed to be hundreds of interesting people through the revolving door. But last Thursday, the party was more like a book salon, attended by more than two dozens of people, for the launch of a new novel and emerging author.

Asher‘s Fault, a young adult fiction, is Elizabeth Wheeler’s first book. I had met Elizabeth before, at Rita’s previous Christmas Parties, and heard about her writing. It was great to see years of intense labor in print.

We all chatted over a variety of cheese, Hors D’Oeuvres, fruit, and wine, and eventually settled in a semi-circle to listen to Elizabeth reading a scene from the novel, the description of a couple of life changing incidents happened at a pool.

Elizabeth is an English teacher in a suburban school and a former actor. Her voice, soft and clear, went slightly up and down, capturing everyone’s full attention with the development of the event until its final climax.

We were all mesmerized. It took a moment for us to applaud enthusiastically when she finished reading.

Many in the room were writers or avid and critical readers. The feedback was all extremely positive. People commented on the pace, simplicity, and natural flow of the story. What struck me most was the dialogue, which, brief and carried out in teen style, not only smoothly moved the story forward but also demonstrated the personalities of each character.

The selected section that Elizabeth read was about Asher, a 14 -year-old boy, who was supposed to be babysitting his brother at the pool. When he ended up in the pool’s locker room and had his first kiss, with another boy, his brother accidently drowned. He felt it was God‘s punishment for his behavior.

“Tell me that didn’t grab you! And, this is just the impetus for Asher’s journey in this beautifully written tale of an adolescent coming to terms with life, fallibility and forgiveness,” Rita said.

Elizabeth thanked Rita for her support over the years when she worked on the book. “It’s a myth that writers work alone. Without the support of many friends, there wouldn’t be this book…”

I concurred from my own experience. Rita, among a small group of close friends, have supported me all these years since I started writing 12 years ago. I thanks Rita and congratulated Elizabeth.

Like many people present Thursday evening, I bought a copy of Asher’s Fault and had Elizabeth signed it. I can hardly wait to read it.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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Inner Mongolia University and Kentucky University renews their cultural exchange program

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
An SVG map of China with the Inner Mongolia au...

An SVG map of China with the Inner Mongolia autonomous region highlighted Legend: Image:China map legend.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The people, lands and livelihood of Inner Mongolia and Kentucky come together in “Living Landscapes,” a weeklong festival celebrating arts and culture from both places at Lexington, Kentucky starting on Sept. 22.

“‘Living Landscapes’ brings nearly 30 students, faculty and administrations from Inner Mongolia University (IMU) to participate in master classes, workshops and lectures at to University of Kentucky (UK),” said Huajing Maske, Director of the Confucius Institute at UK.

The weeklong program will explore both Eastern and Western cultural themes, from throat singing to classical singing, from bowl dances to musical theatre dance. In addition, there will be several art exhibitions and music and dance concerts, all free and open to the public.

“Inner Mongolia and Kentucky are horse capitals in China and the U.S.,” said Michael Tick, Dean of College of Fine Arts at UK. “We share many cultural similarities, and academically, IMU and UK both have very extensive arts programs.”

Tick said a delegation from IMU came last year for a two-day event. It was so popular, drawing more than 1,500 students, faculty, and people from the local community that they decided to expand the program this year.

English: A picture of Lexington, Kentucky take...

English: A picture of Lexington, Kentucky taken by helicopter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“They were truly traditional ethnic Mongolian musicians and dancers of the first rate,” said K.H. Khan, a retired professor of music, referring to last year’s performance.

“It was a colorful and spirited performance with one exciting surprise after another,” concurred Elaine Cook, a Lexington resident. “The performers and announcers connected with the audience in a meaningful way and it was a memorable experience.”

 This year, the delegation from IMU will not only do demonstration of local culture and costumes, but also perform with UK’s Western-trained musicians and dancers. Khan said: “What a perfect example of East meeting West and friendship between two people!”

 “The paintings, watercolors and prints by the faculty of the Art College of Inner Mongolia University provide a wonderful taste of the land and the historic equine culture of Inner Mongolia,” said Janie Welker, curator of the Art Museum at UK.

“We are extremely pleased to present them to our students, faculty and the Lexington community–we feel strongly that art is an essential tool in international understanding,” she added.

“As our world’s cultures are brought together ever faster, a global experience has proved an indispensable part of a student’s full college experience,” Tick said.

“Our partnership with the Art College of IMU has proved invaluable to both our students and our faculty. Living Landscapes is more than a celebration of the horse; it is a celebration of artists dedicated to excellence at the very highest level,” he added.

“This week of academic and cultural activities is a great testimony to the kind of collaboration the Confucius Institute brings to campus,” said Maske.

 “Living Landscapes” runs from Sept. 22 to 28. Performing arts events include: A concert of traditional Inner Mongolian music and dance; a collaborative concert of music and dance featuring students from the UK dance minor, UK Percussion Ensemble, UK Jazz Ensemble and an improvisatory ensemble with students from IMU; and an orchestral concert of both Inner Mongolian and American compositions featuring the UK Symphony Orchestra and guests from IMU.

Art exhibitions include: A juried exhibition of works by students from UK and IMU; an exhibition of works by faculty of the UK School of Art and Visual Studies; and an exhibition of works by faculty of IMU.

This celebration of international arts and culture is a collaboration of the UK Confucius Institute, UK College of Fine Arts, IMU Art College and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region International Culture Association. For more details, visit http://www.uky.edu/international/node/809.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: a memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

      

 

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Celebrating Moon Festival

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Moon cakes filled with yellow mung bean and sw...

Moon cakes filled with yellow mung bean and sweetened black bean paste (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Moon Festival, Zhong Qiu Jie in Chinese (Mid-autumn Festival)!

It falls on the 15th day of August in the lunar calendar, on a day when the moon is fullest. It’s a time family and friends gather together, enjoying a reunion over a variety of moon cakes and other delicious food.

Moon Festival is one of the major festivals in China. When I called my mother earlier this morning to give her my best wishes, I was pleased to have a chance to talk to my sisters—they were all home celebrating the festival with Mom, eating dumplings and moon cakes. It was a three-day holiday in China.

“What kind of moon cakes have you had?” my mother asked.

I swallowed. I haven’t bought any moon cakes. Actually, if it were not for the emails I received from my Chinese friends over the last couple of days, and the moon cake “gifts” and best wishes from my sisters, brother, and niece, posted on QQ, the Facebook in China, I would have forgotten the Moon Festival is today!

“Have a big bite for me,” I told Mom, laughing to hide my negligence.

moon festivalThe moon cake, made with flour and different stuffing such as egg yolk, nuts, red been paste, or lotus, with lots of sugar, is sweet and delicious. I remember the thrill of sharing a quarter of a moon cake with my siblings when I was a child, savoring each bite and flavor of the special treat.

Despite not having the symbolic moon cake on my table, my heart longs for family members and friends and wish dearly we could be together.

Happy Moon Festival!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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Improve the craft of writing

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

We learn to improve our writing everyday, from reading, writing, rewriting, and being corrected by others.

I’ve never been trained as a journalist, but enjoyed doing contributing writing for Xinhua News, the official wire service in China, as a freelancer. The different subjects I need to cover have exposed me to contents I would never have paid attention to on my own, and interviewing people, usually experts in the field of each coverage, has provided me with the opportunity of meeting many extraordinary individuals. But most of all, it’s a great learning experience to write and improve on the job, so to speak.

Yesterday I did three interviews on an assigned coverage on China’s recent economic initiatives. In the list of requested subjects to cover, it also contained the comparison of “develop the west” in China to the “go west” in the U.S. I tried to blend them all in one short coverage and felt jumbled up in a way even before I pressed the submit button. But since I had managed to put the two together, I was reluctant to “kill the little darling” once it was on paper.

I saw the coverage released on Xinhua earlier this morning and was humbled by the editing a Beijing editor did. He/she took out the entire section on the “go west” issue and focused on the new initiatives of opening up various sectors such as finance, petroleum, telecommunication to private sectors. Even in this area, the quotes were substantially cut short.

Despite my reservation for the quotes, I must say the editing has made the coverage much more focused and clean. It is certainly another good lesson in writing.

Here is the link to the “news” release:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-09/10/c_132707871.htm

Incidentally, I saw a friend posted a link to a New York Times blog about writing short sentences. I thought it came in just as handy. Enjoy. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/07/the-short-sentence-as-gospel-truth/?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Jian Ping: author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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In the memory of my father

Friday, September 6th, 2013

It’s Sept. 6 again, a day that marked the passing of my father five years ago.

father's tombIt felt like yesterday. An urgent message from my sister Xiaoping, followed by a phone call home. The first sentence my mother said on the other side of the line was “Your dad is gone.”

I rushed to Changchun, China, less than two weeks from return for a visit there. Having been able to spend some time with my father shortly before his passing didn’t provide any comfort to ease the pain.

I was thankful, however, that my sisters in China arranged everything for the final farewell and the burial of his ashes.

I still remember the sharp pain, emotionally and physically, in my heart for more than six months, missing him desperately and talking with my sister, Xiaowen, in China several times a week.

My father had been fighting with lung cancer for over three years and he was 86 when he succumbed to it. But the expected end didn’t reduce the terrible pain of the loss—only a person who has gone through the experience of losing a parent can feel the weight of the blow.

For a long time, I clang to the pain so as to keep him alive in my heart. I thought of him numerous times a day and carried silent conversations with him, especially early in the morning when I was swimming. I envisioned his face in the blue sky or behind the floating clouds, and imagined hearing his voice, with a heavy Shandong accent, hearty and loud.

Since then, every year when I went to China to visit my mother and my sisters, we would pay a tribute to him at the cemetery, bringing flowers, fruits, his favorite liquor and cigarettes, and telling him what was going on in our lives.

With each passing year, the pain eased, and the tender and fond memories of him filled its place.

Today, as my brother and all my sisters went to his tomb to pay another tribute, I resort to words from afar, hoping above hopes that he would take comfort in knowing he is dearly missed and loved, wherever he is up there.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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