Focus on China – Contemporary Art Exhibition

The Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal (MAC) is proud to announce its latest exhibition – A Focus on China

The exhibition will take place January 23 through March 1st in the salle d’Exposition. The Exhibition showcases the development of Chinese contemporary art and Chinese society from the perspective of Chinese artists. With an emphasis on overall social structure as it exists in China, individual existence can tend to be overlooked. However, young and more established artists evolving in an era of globalization and networking have greater opportunities to learn about the world today, thereby making it easier for them to express their own opinions and perceptions. This process of reciprocation allows individuals to reveal their inner reactions, and thus demonstrate the cultural power of art.

To learn more about the exhibition, check out the MAC website.

An Ode to China – Elia Sommerlad

Throughout most of my life, I have been exposed to the grand history and flourishing culture of the Western world. The Far East always struck me as a distant parallel universe, unrelated to people like me. It was my mother who nurtured the first step towards the vast Chinese lands. Sure, I had heard many China-related stories — mostly of the kind that bombards the news — most of which seemed to affect my future but nonetheless provoked no emotional responses in me. However, the dragon of the East no longer lies dormant! Our world is overflowing with riches that seem never-ending. This is an undeniable truth. To the individual, the world appears to be filled with knowledge, with stimuli — a colourful patchwork of harmonizing and juxtaposing elements. Objectively speaking, planet earth is small. Given these overarching circumstances, how could one possibly not try to experience its every facet? Based on this aspiration, my discovery of China became an endeavour I chose to embrace. Given my sincere reluctance to discover the great “red dragon of the East” as an analphabetic, I enrolled in Beijing University’s Chinese Language Program for a semester. China. 中国. The day I set foot in Beijing for the first time, I was overwhelmed. Like a wave crashing onto the shores of a foreign land, I decided to fully embrace the unknown.

In retrospect, after having spent six months in Beijing and later a total of four months in Guilin, I have come to realize that I cannot and will never be “Chinese”. Although, on one hand, this statement seems to be discouraging, for me it proved to be enlightening. During my first stay in China, I tried desperately hard to blend in. Like a chameleon, whose skin changes according to the color of its surroundings, I tried to camouflage myself into the heart of China by becoming China. Naturally, however, both cultural and physical factors hindered me in my endeavour. That is when I realized that I am, by definition, a world baby, or in other words, a child of the world. I did not “need” to become Chinese in order to become part of China. I simply had to encounter it with an open mindset, removing my preconceived notions of it and letting my experiences dictate my relationship to it. Weltanschauung became my motto!

My love for China is unexplainable. I have been asked many times to explain what it is exactly that draws me back to it year after year. Ultimately, I believe that my love — and my drive to share my life (of which I only have one) with China — comes from a specific state of mind that I have come to cherish. Ever-evolving, China is a melting pot of juxtaposed truths, of a history so ancient and at the same time so new. The Cultural Revolution tried to brush away thousands of years of archaic history. Like most countries of the world, China has been subject to wars, to natural disasters, to cultural change, and, most of all, to the self-righteousness of man. At the same time, the past — and the present that has been born from it — is radiating creativity, youth, innovation, and, most of all, evolution. China, like all other countries, is no Disneyland. The gap between the lower classes and the upper echelons of society is still vast. Nonetheless, entrepreneurship is on the rise. Like buzzing bees, soaring into the skies carrying pollen, the Chinese youth are filled with a new and powerful desire to discover the unknown and nourish their curiosity.

When I am in China, I feel light as a feather. Suddenly, I feel the urge to make use of my talents and harvest my passions. I am not entirely sure whether this feeling is a fruitful by-product of China’s constant development, or whether the thrill of travel and the unknown is responsible for it. China’s mark on my life is deeply rooted within me. It is a source of great strength and inspiration that daily affects both my view of the world and the woman that I aspire to become.

The Day I Discovered I Was White – Magdaline Saulnier

 One day, when I was in Taiwan, I was told these words:

"妳的眼睛跟亞洲人真的不一樣。”

I laughed at the absurdity of those words.

“Your eyes are very different from Asian people’s eyes.”

Of course, they are. I’m not Asian; I’m white, so of course my eyes are like White people’s! I laughed. Such a clever joke, I thought. But his face was serious, and he was almost never serious. So I laughed at the absurdity of these words.

Then, I went home and realized these words had nothing absurd and were the most significant I had been told in a while. I had just finished brushing my teeth when I looked at myself in the mirror and discovered what seemed like a whole new face. Just then, I realized there was something so weird about my reflection.

 

La personne du miroir avait des yeux noisette, aux paupières étrangement creuses. C’était des paupières qui, les yeux grands ouverts, ne semblaient pas si bizarres mais qui, en fait, rentraient curieusement à l’intérieur de l’œil, suivant la courbe de l’orbite au pied de l’arcade sourcilière. C’était d’un absurde fascinant. Si creux, les yeux, qu’ils formaient monts et vallées!

Mais l’étrangeté ne s’arrêtait pas là. Il y avait aussi le nez. Le nez qui était si 高, comme disait les taïwanais: il était si grand à la hauteur des yeux, il semblait éclairer le paysage de mon visage tel un phare et, droit, tout droit il continuait en une base très mince.

Autre détail bizarre: la peau était très blanche. Trop blanche. Comme les nuages dans le ciel de l’aurore quand la pluie est à l’horizon. Et la peau comportait également d’autres difformités: elle était parsemée de petits picots bruns, bruns pâle ou foncés, tirant parfois sur l’orangé. Bizarre que ces taches de visage… Taches de rousseur, pourquoi êtes-vous couronnées d’une masse de cheveux châtains ondulés ? Où se trouve le roux de votre nom, chères taches de rousseur? Seulement dans la blancheur de ces traits, on dirait… Blancheur noisette au grand nez rectiligne et aux yeux pénétrants.

 

Quelle drôle de sensation que celle de cette soirée-là! I felt like such a stranger to myself. I suddenly understood why other people’s eyes often followed me in public: my face was such an interesting thing to look at!

Soudainement, on aurait dit que je regardais mes traits avec des yeux taïwanais. Je savais désormais ce qui attirait les regards autour de moi et, qu’en général, on pensait qu’une certaine beauté s’en dégageait, comme des myriades d’阿姨 ne manquaient pas de me le mentionner: “妳很漂亮、妳的皮膚很白。”

Je me disais donc que, certainement, ces traits étranges avaient quelque chose de joli, en plus d’être intéressants à regarder, d’un point vue scientifique, vu leur illogisme. Cependant, chaque parcelle de mon visage me semblait si étrangement étrangère que je crus réellement me voir pour la toute première fois.

J’étais si blanche, des pieds à la tête, frisée et châtaine. J’étais si blanche, que j’en éprouvais presque du dédain, comme si mon corps ne m’appartenait point.

Étais-je devenue à ce point intégrée à ma nouvelle contrée et à ma famille d’accueil que j’en avais oublié jusqu’à la couleur de ma peau et la forme de mes yeux ? Celles-ci ne collaient certainement pas avec la perception que j’avais développée de moi-même. J’étais devenue une étrangère à mes yeux.

 

 

 

 

Orientations Journal call out for papers!

The undergraduate academic journal of East Asian Studies, is looking to have your work published. The name Orientations brings to mind the notion of varying perspectives, of re-orienting the way we see East Asia, of definition of identity by difference – whether that be by academic approach, commonly perceived stereotypes, or historiographical signifiers of time and place. We value the creation of a contemporary discourse through academic work on the current cultural workings of East Asian culture, although submissions of all types are welcome. Written essays should be around ten pages and have received a B+ or higher. Visual essays – this can be photo documentary, painting, manga, or anything you can imagine – should be submitted in one pdf. We are also looking for a cover image, that can be submitted in pdf or jpeg format. Please send your submissions or any query to orientations.eassa@gmail.com by February 17. Thank you, the Orientations editors
 
Orientations Journal call out for papers! The undergraduate academic journal of East Asian Studies, is looking to have your work published. The name Orientations brings to mind the notion of varying perspectives, of re-orienting the way we see East Asia, of definition of identity by difference – whether that be by academic approach, commonly perceived stereotypes, or historiographical signifiers of time and place. We value the creation of a contemporary discourse through academic work on the current cultural workings of East Asian culture, although submissions of all types are welcome. Written essays should be around ten pages and have received a B+ or higher. Visual essays – this can be photo documentary, painting, manga, or anything you can imagine – should be submitted in one pdf. We are also looking for a cover image, that can be submitted in pdf or jpeg format. Please send your submissions or any query to orientations.eassa@gmail.com by February 17. Join our facebook event and share it with your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/211393415715875/ And like our new page: https://www.facebook.com/orientations.eassa With love and thank yous, the Orientations editors

A visual exploration of East Asia

Eastern Asia is continuously evolving. Stranded on what one may call, a time span of eventful history, the West watches the East as it develops and flourishes like a precious lotus. What better way to capture such evolution than through both the intellectual and creative artistic eye? Truly, all art is contemporary when it was first made. Living in the now—the fleeting present—we are constantly confronted with metaphors of what was and of what will be. The image passes yet the feeling; the emotion of the felt moment lingers in the air like the subtle scent of a spice that has been blown from street to street. Is that emotion not captured so perfectly by art? Able to convey the artist’s emotion it also conveys to the viewer a feeling—an understanding of the world that is being depicted through the art piece. This art exhibition’s purpose is to collect the emotions perceived by our young students on their perception and their experiences in East Asia—mainly China, Korea and Japan. Coming from all parts of the world, each contributing in his or her own way, the ultimate goal becomes that of provoking sensation amongst the viewership: an ode of love to the East. The activity will centre itself around the exhibition of a collection of artwork (including photography, music, paintings, pottery, video compositions, and more) that are capturing the artist’s perspective or personal impressions of Eastern Asia. Moreover honours students will possibly be presenting their East Asian Studies theses to the community. The event itself is meant to expose highlights of the East Asian Studies McGill Community to the public of Montreal in collaboration with the Montreal Chinese Community and Cultural Centre. Accompanied by food and beverages, music, and speeches from heads of the department, the event itself is meant to entice the invitees, exposing them to a unique soiree of intellectual stimuli and harmonious energies.

- Elia Sommerlad

The Purpose(less) Trip – DreamCorps Summer Volunteer Program – by Tracey Cui

In the summer of 2013, when I was just set free from the stress of final exams, I packed everything in a suitcase and set out for Beijing, the first stop of my summer volunteer program in China. I was assigned to the Niujie Central Elementary School in Yunnan with my beloved teammates, Changyuan, Haiting, Yannan, and Huanqi, from various universities across North America and China. After two days of training in Beijing and two days of traveling by airplane, bus, and the school headmaster’s SUV, we finally arrived at a serene and picturesque village called Niujie (literally means the Village of Cattle).

The purpose of the Summer Volunteer Program initiated by DreamCorps is to promote education and literacy for children in underprivileged rural area in China. We believe that reading is paramount for child development. By emerging children in a reading-friendly environment, we could inspire their imagination and broaden their views of the world through the establishment of a functional library system and incorporation of reading-oriented activities into everyday classes.

At the first glance, the goals looked so grandiose and abstract to me that I invevitably started to worry if we could accomplish the tasks. After I had interacted with children and the local teacher, and been exposed to the stark living condition of the village, I realized that the goals after which we strived were even farther than I had originally supposed. “What is the purpose of all of this, given that we are aware that what we do could by no means change anything?” My teammate and I had a talk in the classroom that we transformed into a library book by book. While we were about to end our crestfallen talk, one of the grade three girl puncticiously open the door of the library and came to us with a bundle of China roses in her hands. She told us she picked them from her family’s field and they were so pretty that she couldn’t wait to show them to us. Strangely, despite the fact that we concluded our talk with the realization of the impossibility to bring lasting impacts, we are more pumped to make changes and to offer the best we could to these kids.

Before I set out, some cynical people asked me how much money we would donate to the school. Upon hearing my anwser that we gave the school nothing but volunteers and books, those persons laughed and said you did not understand what these schools in rural area truly want. However, two things encouraged me and made me steadfastly believe our efforts were not less valuable than material assistance. Firstly, the kids who were so fond of reading once a well-rounded library was established. Secondly, the DreamCorps summer volunteer program, which was designed to give us the greatest freedom and proper resources to carry out the plans that embodied our own interpretations of “Let reading inspire”. The importance of purpose has eclipsed by the brightened smiles of children and their aspiration to learn more about this unknown world. What we saw, heard, and expirenced in Niuejie trumped all and made up the real purpose of this trip.

Right now, we are still not sure if what we did brought any siginificant changes to the children, but none of us has the slightest regret of participating in this volunteer program. Before we leave, some kids promised that one day they would come to Canada to meet us. Although we all know that was a joke, but somehow I increasingly convinced that they one day they will reappear in front of me.

 Last but not least, The Dream Corps Summer Volunteer Program for 2014 has begun to accept applications. Volunteers will be building and organizing libraries for schools in rural China as well as participating in reading activities with local children. If you are interested in rural development and diversifying your cultural exposure AND you can speak Chinese (no matter you are still learning or a native speaker), please apply at www.dreamcorps.org by February 23, 2014. No registration fee involves. Contact volunteer@dreamcorps.org for questions regarding the application and volunteer selection process. You can also keep updated with the Dream Corps McGill Chapter by following our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Dreamcorpsmcgill/. We will hold an INFO SESSION on Jan 21st and Feb 5th, for more information please check our Facebook page. I will also be presenting. Hope to see you all there!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

2013 – 2014 Executive!

Congratulations to our 2013 – 2014 executives! 

PRESIDENT:
Hehe Zhang: 

hehe.zhang@mail.mcgill.ca; Hehe_zhang@hotmail.com

VP FINANCE:
Ryo Kojima: ryo.kojima@mail.mcgill.ca
VP COMMUNICATIONS:
Madison Bentley: madison.bentley@mail.mcgill.ca
VP INTERNAL:
Sara Langmuir: sara.langmuir@mail.mcgill.casara.langmuir@gmail.com

VP EXTERNAL:
Elia Sommerlad: eliacaterina24@gmail.com
VP EVENTS:
Jocelyn Laws: jocelyne.laws@mail.mcgill.ca
VP ACADEMIC:
Rinchen Dolma: r.dolma329@gmail.comrinchen.renqingzhuoma@mail.mcgill.ca

 & Jessica Szeto: jessica.szeto@mail.mcgill.ca
U3 REP:
Christopher Villegas-Cho: christopher.villegas-cho@mail.mcgill.ca 
U2 REP:
Zack Chen: zack_chen92@hotmail.com
U1 REP:
Sumin Lee:suminashlee@hotmail.com