1 March, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order to officially establish the Peace Corps.
23 February through 1 March was Peace Corps week. In addition, this week was the final first week of classes of my own Peace Corps experience. My final semester has begun. I'm trying to be mindful of this. I want to appreciate everything, and if you'll cue up Aerosmith, I don't want to miss a thing. (Don't click on that link; you know what it's going to be.)
It was a busy and frustrating first week (they always are) so I don't have anything to report. I wanted to acknowledge the anniversary, and share something China-related I read in the news this week:
Over at the Atlantic, James Fallows wrote a piece commenting on a charming video (embedded below) of people in Beijing dancing and singing to the song "Happy" by Pharrell.
The article has some good observations about Beijing. In addition, it pulls a startlingly-accurate quotation from a book written by James Fallows called China Airborne that I thought needed to be shared.
The plainest fact about modern China for most people on the scene often seems the hardest to grasp from afar. That is simply how varied, diverse, contradictory, and quickly changing conditions within the country are.
Any large country is diverse and contradictory, but China’s variations are of a scale demanding special note. What is true in one province is false in the next. What was the exception last week is the rule today. A policy that is applied strictly in Beijing may be ignored or completely unknown in Kunming or Changsha. Millions of Chinese people are now very rich, and hundreds of millions are still very poor. Their country is a success and a failure, an opportunity and a threat, an inspiring model to the world and a nightmarish cautionary example. It is tightly controlled and it is out of control; it is futuristic and it is backward; its system is both robust and shaky.