this is the blog of an american in nanjing! what you'll see here are pictures, essays, and reblogs about china, chinese culture and the road to becoming fluent in chinese.if you're interested in china, you should follow me. just sayin'.


One Restaurant Owner’s Quest to Promote Organic Produce in China

Lifen Yang, a university-educated entrepreneur, originally thought starting a farm would be the best route to growing healthier food. Having grown up in the countryside, however, she faced social pressure to stay in the city and put her degree to work. “People have tried so hard to advance themselves, one can’t just go back to farming,” she explains. So she tries a “middle way:” opening Tusheng Restaurant in Kunming, in China’s Yunnan Province, where she sources most of the produce from her parents’ farm. In this video, from the food series The Perennial PlateYang demonstrates how she makes tofu without the usual chemicals. “The movement of eating is magical, if you really think about it,” she says. “You put food in your mouth and then it becomes part of your body.” 

I’ve found an amazing resource for Chinese learning—Capturing Chinese is a company that prints classic Chinese novels and short stories with annotations and notes for the student of Chinese. I own “The New Year’s Sacrifice” by Lu Xun and it’s amazing. If you feel like your Chinese is at the point where reading a novel is possible, be sure to check these out. Lots of us have spent years in the classroom learning Chinese on our own, but the next step is to read, read, read!

There are also free audio files of all the books on Capturing Chinese’s website (with purchase of the book, of course!)


March of the QQ Penguin

It’s 9 a.m. in China, and nearly 80 million users are logged on to online chat network QQ, most of them on the Chinese mainland. Later today, that number will reach nearly 150 million. In smoky web cafes, office blocks and homes across China, millions of Chinese make QQ China’s dominant online community.

With its cutesy penguin logo, QQ is “like MSN and Facebook rolled into one,” according to Zixue Tai, Chinese internet researcher and author of “The Chinese Internet: Cyberspace and Civil Society.” QQ has grown so spectacularly that it almost resembles a region of Chinain itself, with a population rivalling most provinces. “It’s hard to find anyone in Chinese cities who doesn’t use QQ,” Tai says.

Like most of the Chinese internet, QQ was originally based on a foreign model: “QQ started as a copy of America Online’s messenger program,” Tai says. QQ was launched in 1999 by Tencent, a small company based in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen. Tencent’s founder, Ma Huateng (马化腾), who goes by the English name Pony Ma, was a recent computing graduate who grew up close to Shenzhen.

QQ’s total user base is now more than 700 million. That’s higher than China’s total online population, estimated to be around 500 million, suggesting that some QQ users have registered several accounts. Eighty-five percent of instant messaging users in China rely on QQ, with just 14 percent turning to Microsoft’s MSN messenger as their main means of staying tuned in, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Read more here.

I’ve always found Chinese social media really fascinating.


Learn Chinese with Nick Winter, CEO of Inkran


Nick Winter has at least twenty thoughts running around his head at any given time. He spits out statistics and numbers faster than I can process them, and manages to infuse the friendliness and warmth of a college grad. If you were just having casual conversation with him, you would never guess, from his warmth and candor that he is the CEO of Inkran, and full time developer of the revolutionary online Chinese character-learning-system Skritter.

Nick and I both attended Oberlin College, and I fondly remember conversing with him over bad cafeteria food, freshman year, at Chinese Table. While I was still but a childish freshman, Nick was already in full throttle mode over the development of what would become Skritter.

“The goal of Skritter is to make an efficient flashcard implementation with an effective handwriting component. Studying characters with correct writing—meaning the proper stroke order, can have enormous benefits to your language study,” he emphasized.

As an initial guinea pig of the Skritter system, I had witnessed its benefits first hand: at the time of its early development, it was a rudimentary vocabulary system that had a mouse-implemented drawing function that could also use WACOM tablet support. I mostly used it to study for tests, but Nick indicated that cramming with Skritter does not take advantage of its maximum potential. “Most people end up not doing particularly great with flashcards: they have to buy them, store them, and you only write your characters once,” Nick lamented: “in this traditional academic context, you forget about 38% of the characters you learn. If you spend a few minutes every day, repeating and using the Skritter system, you can learn and retain up to six times more characters over the same span of time.”

(Read more)

Being a journalist in China: still pretty freaking hard, according to Eveline Chao.



cheer up, tony

at least it isn’t cantonese

Dear Mr. Over-Night-Astro-Physicist: your final exam is an oral citation of the 92 Shi poem aka The Lion-Eating Poet in The Stone Den.


(via cucumberbatchin-gone)



In which China communicates only using Twitter. 


(via benedikutokanbabatchi)