Saturday, April 28, 2012

China's Confusing Holiday Schedule

The upcoming May Day holiday has many workers and students in the country jumping for joy. It also has many foreigners like myself shake our their heads in confusion as we try to understand why we have to work on the weekend to make up for the holiday. I mean it is a holiday after all.

It is not unusual to work 6-7days in the week leading up to a holiday to make up for holiday "lost" time. Sometimes the time is made up for the weekend before or after a holiday. Whatever the case is, it is the responsibility of the employer to inform its staff of any changes in the work schedule for that week well in advance. Sometimes employers will "forget" to inform their foreign staff and instead, choose to harass them with a phone call on the Saturday or Sunday they don't show up for work.

So, how does the holiday schedule work?
Alright, so say there's a 3-day holiday coming up, people would have to make up one or two days on the weekend. For example, this May holiday which is from Sunday (April 29th) to Tuesday (May 1st), required people to work on Saturday (April 28th) to make up for Monday's work. And what should have been the third day (Wednesday) is bumped up to Sunday. So really, this "3-day" holiday is ONLY one day!  Very confusing right?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A decade away from the motherland

It just dawned on me that I have been out of Nigeria for 10years!  I had a feeling yesterday that April 20th was a special day, but I just didn't know what made it so special. I mean, no one in my family was born in April, so it couldn't have been someone's birthday. But while reading some blog posts by Nigerians in the diaspora, I suddenly realized that around this day 10years ago, my family and I bid our farewell to the country.

Why don't you go back to contribute to the development of your country?
Just about two weeks ago, a Nigerian friend (who was inspired to venture to China after coming across my blog) told me about an older African woman in the diaspora who asked her why she is not back in Nigeria developing her nation? As a respect to the woman, she didn't give her a response. I just thought if it was me, I would have said "the same reasons you're not there yourself ma". Coincidentally, I read a relative's Facebook status update about why so many Nigerians are sweeping the streets of China, India and the U.S when so many Chinese and Indians bribe their way to get into Nigeria. I immediately left a comment saying that I've never seen a foreigner sweeping the streets of Beijing or any other Chinese city I've traveled to. Besides, those foreigners bribing their way into Nigeria are no different from Nigerians who "sweeps" the streets abroad. In that both see all the available resources on the other side of the world which aren't available to them in their home countries.

I mean if Obama senior hadn't gone to the States, the country wouldn't have the Black president it has today. Or if Roger Jean hadn't fled to Canada as a refugee, after being abducted and tortured in his home country, Canada wouldn't have had it's first visible minority, Haitian-born governor general.

President Obama with Canada's 27th Governor General  MichaĆ«lle Jean 

If the grass is greener on the other side, why remain in an environment where your talents are not being maximized? Or remain in a country where basic human necessities are made to seem like luxuries? Or in an environment where you might not be able to fully enjoy your wealth due to political or social instabilities in the country. It is very common here in China for rich Chinese families to immigrate to Canada or whatever country they choose to call their new home. Because being a millionaire doesn't exempt you from the one child policy, pollution, daily traffic jams and other unnecessary stress a rich person doesn't need to go through.

I think what people need to do is to first research the LONG history of immigration before they start talking nonsense about immigrants or people leaving their home countries to go build other people's nations. What annoys me the most is when I read hate comments from people who are descendants of immigrants themselves!

 I think whatever reason a person decides to leave their home country to go pick up another citizenship or get a new one after renouncing their natural citizenship is their business. I believe America wouldn't be the nation it is today if those early immigrants had just stayed in their countries. And Canada probably wouldn't be the second biggest nation it is today if it wasn't for those thousands of immigrants helping to fill up empty lands.

As an immigrant and currently an expat enjoying life in a country where so many citizens are looking for a  way out, I am most thankful to have the opportunity to be mobile. Because after all, the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. Therefore, If at any time I feel the grass is greener in another part of my heavenly Father's creation, then I will most definitely go explore it!

**So, have I visited Nigeria in the last 10years? No. Will I ever go for a visit? Of course, as soon as I can gather some funds. Will I ever move back? No one knows the future, but luckily, my dual citizenship gives me an option :).**

And to you Dear reader, where is your home country and where do you now currently call your home? And if you have moved back to your home country, under what circumstance(s) did you had to relocate and do yo feel you are helping to build your nation?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why are Chinese kids so smart?

Chinese and other Asian students are often stereotyped as being smart, particularly in math and science. So I took it upon myself to look into what makes these kids perform better than their non Asian peers and why some American universities have to set SAT scores higher for International Chinese students in order to control the number of Chinese students enrolled.
Good bye high school, Hello LIFE!
After almost two years of living in the country, teaching in various schools and other academic settings, as well as talking to many locals both young and old, I have come up with possible reasons as to why Chinese students are so smart and therefore, over populating universities overseas.

So I wonder, could it be because Chinese students spend about 8-10 hours in school daily? A typical school day would start at 7.30am and end at 5.30pm. For boarding school students who live in school, time spent studying is often prolonged with an extra 3-hour study time in the evening. Many schools from primary to high schools offer boarding services for students who live far from school and might not make it on time for the early start time. Also, boarding schools can be for kids with busy parents or out of town students. 
Could it be because high school students go to school on the weekends as well? I first found it strange seeing students in uniforms on a Saturday or Sunday, but now I can see the reason why.
Could it be because they start writing final examinations right from grade 1, making them good test takers by the time they get to high school?
students pouring out their "brains"
Could it be because they are heavily burdened with after school academic activities such as English classes, TOEFL, SAT prep courses, music and sports lessons?
Could it be because they are taught lessons that are a grade or two higher than their current academic level, thus making them more advance and intelligent than other students in other countries? It's often common for Chinese students to be bored in their first year of college because they have learned everything already in high school. So some students will instead catch up on "Life" by enjoying the privileges their high school years had robbed them. And of course enjoy freedom from parents.
A student buried in her books. Students usually keep all their books on their desk for convenience
Could it be because they spend practically their entire high school years prepping for the Gao Kao (High Exam), a college entrance examination which is written by all high school students around the country at the same time? Student's from all social, political and academic background will gather under one roof to pour out all they've learned over the past 12 academic years. The pressure to succeed is even greater for students whose parents had spent lots of money on expensive kindergartens, primary and high schools.
Students writing the make it or break it "Gao Kao"
Could it be because Chinese students have been trained on the "art of memorization" from an early age, which makes it easy to pour everything out on the exams, especially on math and science exams? I once asked a grade 5 student to read a short passage out loud, which she read quite well without looking at the book. My immediate response was an outburst of laughter because I was following along in the book, but she was just staring blankly in the room while "reciting" the passage. It turns out her other English teacher had asked them to read the passage over and over for about 3hours until they had memorized the passage.

And finally, Could it be because parents have high expectations on their ONLY child which makes them put great pressure on the child to achieve his/her best?

And so the next time you might start to wonder why Chinese students are so smart, you should think about one or two reasons above, and hopefully everything will make sense :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Testimony on ACV

I recently made a life changing discovery few weeks ago on YT. And this is the amazing powers of Apple Cider Vinegar. While looking up natural facial cleansers online, I stumbled on a YT video on using ACV for acne. Since I don't have a problem with facial acne, I didn't pay much attention to what was said. But days later, it dawned on me that I could try using some ACV on my back to clear the little acne I had going on back there.

I often get acne/ tiny bumps on my chest and back on days when I wear a piece of clothing which doesn't cover my chest and back on a hot sunny summer day. Fortunately, these spots usually heals itself naturally within a few days. But, it's been months since last summer and I still have these bumps on my back. With summer just around the corner, I thought I better do something really quickly to get rid of these unwanted visitors. So after looking up some possible treatments for back acne (which by the way is a common issue, just not commonly talked about), I decided to give ACV a chance after turning up with nothing that is accessible and affordable.

Any brand works, as I use the Heinz brand
So I grabbed my bottle of Heinz ACV, poured a little on a facial cotton puff, applied it on the acne on my back, did this religiously in the morning and night for a week. And Lo and Behold, these bumps were miraculously flattened! Who knew a salad dressing could cure months of skin ailment just like that?

So if you suffer from acne on any part of your body, please consider giving ACV a shot and you won't be disappointed! May be you will some day shout on mountain tops and proclaim the healing power in this potion!

CAUTION: You might feel a tingling/burning sensation upon application. Since the skin on the back is thicker than that on the face, I only felt a slight tingling sensation, mostly when I had just scratched my back before applying it. But it might burn when applied on the face, so use with caution.