I love OPRA!

OPRA trips always seem to end "abruptly" because they are so wonderful! It leaves a big vacuum hole inside of me for quite a while. The Outdoor Program is definitely the treasure of Hampshire. I love it!

Spending a week in the south back packing, rafting and zip-lining, sitting on a log in the middle of the river and watch the million stars, eating three steak for $10 in Waffle House, listening to Earl's endless collection of amazing stories, swimming in the freezing Chattooga River with only my underwear, eating fresh deer meat while talking about American businesses with the boss of rafting company, playing Ipod poker and watching people moving the hips like yea when "Party in the USA" is on, sleeping outside the tent, merging into the starry starry night and asking myself "what if my kids ask me why the stars shine" and then fall asleep with my glasses on and wake up at mid-night, wanting to pee badly but is too lazy to get out of my sleeping bag, mimicking southern dialect, getting to know the gas price in nearly ten different US states ...... Ah, that's paradise!

There's no doubt, the best part was the people. I have never met any boring people on OPRA trips. The conversation with them is one of the most enjoyable and most precious activity in life. We eat and cook together, sit in the same van for forty hours together, hike the mountains and run white water together. Sometimes I think that if you be with each other 23.9 hours a day and see each other just in their underwear for more than a week, then you got to be close friends.

The Buddha says "one flower, one world". Then each person is a million worlds. Talking, simply talking, simply talking about anything. I learn so much from other people and people they know. Each one of them is a whole new world, and they generously let you in. It's like living another life. By sharing other people's inside world, you expanded your life by endless times.

Thank you, you all! (with a southern dialect)


Why I Learn German & Three Languages of Past, Present and Future

Before I decided that I will spend my exchange year in Germany, I haven't clearly and consciously realized its value and strategic importance. Now as I read more and more Western classics, I know I have fortunately made the right choice --- study German.

Philosophy, politics, music, society, German intellects dominated almost all these fields in the modern period of western world. As I do my readings, I strongly feel that translation kills. No translation can preserve the original taste of the work. Even the best translation is very far away from the authors intention. In order to best appreciate and critically learn from the masterpieces, I have to read the original work. If I keep working on my German, soon enough I will be enjoying reading "Das Kapital" and "Kritik der reinen Vernunft" in its original flavor.

In ten or twenty years, my children will start to learn to speak. They will grow up trilingual: Chinese, English and German. English is the official language for globalization. It's a must. It's for survival. Most academic papers and the latest news are published in English. The Internet, the computer, the finance and business world, etc. It is also the most efficient way to connect and communicate with the rest of the world. By the way, there are so many great writings and speeches and films in English. An extra perk is that you can find the English translation of other languages' classics pretty easily.

My kids will speak German because it would be my sin if they miss the fun of brainstorming directly with those greatest masters who shaped the modern world, or, at least the western definition of the modern world. And the kids will learn German "as kids", because learning German grammar is too painful for grown-ups...

Chinese is the language of the future. I am not being nationalist here. First, Chinese is the mother language of nearly a quarter of the world's population. Second, Chinese people has already been recording and exchanging their thoughts in Chinese for more than five thousand years! Think about how much wisdom there is to be discovered in this huge treasure! Third, Chinese intellectual output has been severely oppressed for decades. Now it is coming back. Millions of the world's most energetic and hardworking human being will be writing and debating in Chinese till the day we are all gone. It will be an explosion of expressions! I believe that China, after being the world factories for twenty years, will be producing many of the greatest intellectual work in the coming centuries. How can I left my next generation out of the game?

I am so grateful that my mother language is Chinese. I'm also grateful that I have the chance to study English and German, without too much pain. Sooner or later, I will work to share this privilege, to make these languages accessible to anyone who is wise or lucky enough to take on them.


The Pleasure of Reading Masterpieces

Being a college student is so much fun. One of my greatest pleasure is to read the most powerful classics from all nations and all times.

I'm taking World Politics at Amherst. The reading from this course is so lovely! We are sampling the greatest mind and greatest works on politics, human nature, war and peace, and international relations.

The pleasure of reading masterpieces is overwhelming, and it is twofold. First, the pleasure of meeting and masters, admiring them, learning from them, having a debate with them. You say, "Wow! This is the real master!", or, "Why haven't I thought of that?". The second layer of pleasure strikes me, usually unexpectedly and suddenly, when I say to myself, "Hey, I can do that, too!", or, "His ideas sounds like exactly what I have written down in the diary last week!"

The first kind of pleasure is a pleasure of learning, improving and enlightening. The second pleasure, conquering. When you challenge yourself hard enough, then you realize that you are born to be a "great master".


Love Hampshire's evaluation system!

I just read my professors' evaluation for me from last semester. I was SO thankful to them as well as to the Hampshire's evaluation system. This is indeed one of the best part of Hampshire's innovation.

When I read the words from my professor, it feels like that I can hear them talking to me. There are so many encouraging, constructive, critical points in their evaluations. I will benefit from them all the time, and they helped me understand myself much better. I love reading them over and over. I can feel their care and dedication. I am very grateful.

At the same time, I can imagine that these evaluations are a huge work load to our professors. Hampshire professors are the most hardworking in the valley. The support they give to Hampshire students are luxurious!

I do think that Hampshire students have a very luxurious life. Of course, not luxurious in a physical way, but in the resource, support, opportunities, creativity and much more. This level of spiritual/academic luxury really requires a solid financial support. And we don't have it!

Our financial situation does not match our "life style". We should pay our professors moch more than what they earn now. This is embarrassing for the college. The best professors in the valley are poorest paid. Think about what this will do to our future.

The current professors do not leave Hampshire because they LOVE this place. It is dedication, ideals and loyalty behind their work. But with our current financial situation, the school has already stopped to look for new professors to fill the vacant spots.

Honestly, I want to send my kids to Hampshire thirty years later, and I hope by that time Hampshire is still alive and thriving! I don't want to take my kids back here and point at a big, wasted farm and say, "Once upon a time, a paradise was here...."

What we can do now? One simple thing for this weekend: join the "Send Some Love" and share your love of this place with Hampshire alums, encouraging them to donate! Search for "Send Some Love" on Fcebook =)