12
Mar
10

Learning Chinese

So the summer long ago that I spent studying Chinese at Cheng Da, I indulged my nerdiness by enjoying the benefits of my library card.  (The library had a lovely sculpture of a swooping flutist in front of it at the time, too, which I’m kicking myself for not photographing).  With strong A/C, the library was a lovely modern space with some neat spaces to lounge about in the company of books.  I also had my first exciting experience with sliding stacks, which were quite cool.

Anyway, in addition to reading up on film criticism and helping my cousin with his research on Psycho and Gaslight (neither of which, I’m sorry to say, I was brave enough to watch on my own in the typhoon storminess of that summer…  What can I say, I’m a film-wuss, and too highly impressionable for my own good…  Where was I?  Oh, yes, in addition…), I looked up all the how-to-learn Chinese books there.  I already had a bit of a collection that I was studying on my own before going to Cheng Da and studying from the Shida book that is standard university Chinese fare in Taiwan (in spite of being kind of ancient).  However, being a bit of a research nerd, I came across this book:

It is probably out of print, and its phonetics are not hanyu pin-yin.  However, being a bo-po-mo-fo learner myself (which I think tends to make pronunciation better, though it has its confusing bits too), this wasn’t an impediment for me.  This is more of a character-writing book, with nice charts of radicals and their meanings as endpapers.  Also, I was delighted to discover that the author had a sense of humor, as evidenced by the entry for the character of “ghost,” which as evidenced by the blue dot, I was not the first reader to note:

Seriously speaking, I’m a fan of studying character etymology, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m an etymology language nerd.  I think the contextualization of why/how characters came to be is helpful in remembering them.  At Cheng-Da, there was a class with pretty pictures that showed the evolution of characters.  Back in the US, on a few rare occasions, my mom used to teach me calligraphy, though all I really remembered was fairly basic.  I practiced my characters with calligraphy in Taiwan too, just to make it a bit more fun and involve more gross-motor movement to try to remember them better.  Haven’t touched my calligraphy set for a while, and am not very confident that I remember all my characters that well.  Spent many an afternoon at my grandfather’s house that summer, practicing characters, which unfortunately tended to make me nod off a bit with all the repetition.  My piano teacher could probably vouch that I’m not so good with repetition.

However, I did have a fun experience at Cheng-Da in Tainan that summer, and was a huge fan of my teacher and our class.  It was a friendly department, and I would recommend it for other prospective students.

12
Mar
10

Lotus

Lotus is one of my favorite flowers.  My aunt was dear enough to buy one to stick in a bucket in our garden.  Unfortunately, I never got to see a lake full of them during the daytime while I was in Taiwan…  Maybe next time.

11
Mar
10

Bamboo in the garden

Bamboo in the familial garden.

11
Mar
10

More Sculpture at Cheng Da

Though this is an abstraction, something about it from this angle reminds me a little bit of the “Winged Victory of Samothrace”– a marble statue at the Louvre.  This sculpture (after a squinting look at the blurry zoomed-in tag) is called “Fleeting Cloud and Shadow Traces Marked by the Wind and Trees.”

I’ve never worked with marble before, but the texture of this “cloud” really intrigued me.

If I recall correctly, there were a series of these almost two-dimensional steel sculptures with cut-outs.  I liked this one because it reminded me of the moon with a cloud in front of it.

10
Mar
10

Sculpture around Cheng Da

Surfing Cheng Da’s site, I discovered that there is an art festival going on, and figured I should post my photos of art at Cheng Da.  Art on college campuses can be hit or miss (my sculpture prof. in college said she had to artfully dodge when asked what she thought of the sculptures decorating our campus after her initial interview), but there are some nice pieces at Cheng Da .

This is a doughnut-shaped abacus that is outside the business building (if my memory is correct and things haven’t changed).  Abaci are still used by kids in Taiwan and remind me of my experience trying to teach elementary students math with manipulatives– if we’d only used abaci, I could have avoided a veritable hail storm of pennies and base ten blocks…

This sculpture was a bit small in scale next to its surroundings, but I had fun with its reflections anyway…

This blog has more recent postings of art at NCKU.   While it is in Chinese, the pictures show some fun murals have been added to the landscape since I was there.

Sorry that I didn’t record titles and artist names to go along with the photographs.  If anyone can enlighten me on them, I’ll gladly add them to this post.

06
Dec
09

Around Cheng Da

Sorry I’ve been a hideous blog mistress when it comes to updating.  My trusty laptop Fawkes-Buckbeak fell prey to the black screen of death and since then I’ve been hopping between shared computers, which didn’t have ready access to my archives of pictures.  Of course once I fell out of the habit of posting, it required some catching up to figure out what I’ve posted and what I haven’t from what is now over a year ago’s worth of reminisces and images.

So here are some images from National Cheng Kung University (Cheng Da or Cheng Gong Da Shuei as my personal romanization goes…), taken in the summer of 2008 (eeks, time flew!) while I was trying to study Chinese.

The view from the covered space between buildings where students could be found practicing skits, dancing, or Tai Chi in the shade.  The entrance gate is at the end of that long vista.

The pond in front of the foreign languages department with its lovely red bridge.

The bridge had very shallow steps.

Sparrows were lined up on the railings.

Rock formation on the little pond island.

A palm that lost to a typhoon and gravity.

A curious mushroom.

Another rock formation on the island– some of the white ones are worn corals, I think…

An old gate to the campus.

I don’t know why the paving stones have a semi-circular placement.

A stone sculpture on campus.

14
Aug
09

Typhoon Morakot

*Insert apologies for being a bad blog mistress here*

Although I’m not in Taiwan anymore, I have been worried upon hearing the news reports of the mudslides falling on small villages.  We just got through to talk with my aunt in Tainan tonight (the lines in Taipei haven’t been letting us through).  She told me that they are rationing water since there is not very much that is drinkable– the reservoirs have been flooded, and helicopters are dropping food and drinking water where villages in the mountains are supposed to be, but haven’t been able to confirm whether people are still alive there yet.  People are cooking noodles and dumplings instead of rice (rice needs to be rinsed in addition to the water added to cook it).  The cold drinks from 7/11 (No carton/bottle cold teas!?  Unthinkable!)  aren’t available.  Fresh fruit and vegetables on farms were washed away by Morakot, so she said food is pretty expensive right now.  Fortunately, as far as we’ve heard, our family is fine.

Apparently the cities are operating again and the roads and trains are clear and running.

Also, the Taiwanese government is bowing to public pressure to accept whatever foreign aid they can get since they need it… (Refrains from grumpy editorial about political idiocy.)  From what I’ve heard, they could really use more helicopters to try to get to those remote villages.

And if you’ve got change to spare and care to help relief efforts (good karma, anyone?), Tzu Chi is a fantastic Buddhist organization (I remember them being on practically every street corner asking for donations so they could provide assistance after the Chinese earthquake).  Apparently World Vision is also conducting relief efforts in Taiwan as well.

My heart aches for all the beautiful mountain villages we would visit on the weekends or drive past on the highways– their lights glittering on the mountains.  They seem so idyllic– there is usually a main street with a market of yummy touristy food, and depending on the village, you can meet artisans selling things from glass pens to ocarinas (clay whistles).  I miss Taiwan.  My thoughts are with everyone there.




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