Bwog’s Adventures with the All-China Youth Federation
Written by Bwog Staff
|Photo via the Harvard Crimson|
Experienced Bwog Intercontinental Schmoozer David Berke spent some time with the visiting ACSF contingent and found that a language barrier is very effective at preventing Cultural Communication.
The future leaders of the world/owners of our country were not pleased. Sitting in a cozy, wood-paneled room in Low with portraits of old white people adorning the walls, the eight members of the prominent Chinese student delegation visiting campus were slouched in their chairs, listlessly listening to other student delegates. The burning topic of debate? How to get students to vote/care about student elections. I’m not quite sure why anyone would spend thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles to Columbia to answer that question, but whatever.
This meeting was one of the final activities during the Columbia/Manhattan tour of the Chinese students from the All-Youth China Federation. CCSC and ESC reps, student council leaders from Universidad Iecsi in Colombia (as in Latin America. Yeah, I’m not quite sure what they were doing there other than providing the inevitable Columbia/Colombia joke) and the aforementioned All-China Student Federation leaders were discussing topics they could have more easily/less ironically teleconferenced about. One Colombia rep, for example, chatted about his hopes to make tuition more affordable for students in his country. Cutting the gratuitous overseas travel might be a good start. Plus, it seemed there was no one language that all the students in the room could speak fluently, and, when some international students spoke English, it was difficult to decipher. To make matters that much more ridiculous, What is Love was blasting from some shindig on College Walk, increasing the comprehension difficulties.
Before the meeting was adjourned, a Columbia rep made a joke about “Columbia University students visiting Colombia” (Token vowel humor, check). Another Columbia Ivy Council member apologized for translation issues and other technical difficulties; one Columbia rep later told Bwog the Chinese visit had been “pretty crazy.” In spite of the problems, the Columbians called the meeting “historic” and an important “first step” in improving international student dialogue and cooperation.
The torturous roundtable finally vanquished, I was ready to interview some of the Chinese students, who, if their organization’s alumni are any indication, will someday be pretty damn important. Before any relevant questioning could begin, the array of US, Colombian and Chinese students tried to snap photos in front of Alma Mater. The endless picture process was first delayed by some Chinese students who couldn’t get over the owl is Alma’s dress. US Foreign policy strategy for the Chinese ten years in the future: hide owls in everything to distract them. Then, the assemblage of students had a very hard time arranging themselves around the statue. Apparently, that “first step” was the first of many, many, many steps toward improved cooperation.
Finally, I got to sit down with Li Huidong of Fudan University. Huidong had thirty seconds to explain how “at Harvard, everyone at breakfast is reading textbooks, at Brown, everyone is reading the newspaper, and at Yale, everyone is talking to each other” before he was whisked away by the delegation for something allegedly important. In fact, the Chinese students were rushing for their next vital activity: free time to shop at Columbus circle. US Foreign policy strategy for ten years in the future #2: tantalize the communist leaders with Macy’s. The midtown department store hopping was more pressing to global dialogue than questions like “I know Hu Jintao was a member of the All-China Youth League, so do you aspire to one day lead China? Do you want a freer China with greater individual rights and a less draconian judicial system?” Rest in piece, veiled liberal jabs at Chinese state policy.