One of the cutest couples I’ve seen in a long while:
A Chinese friend translated missionary doctor and Ebola patient Kent Brantly’s public statement, which he wrote from the Ebola isolation unit at Emory University Hospital. I’ve pasted both it and the original English version below, plus some related links (Chinese & English). Click the photos for sources.
Ebola = 埃博拉病毒 (also sometimes 伊波拉)
Kent Brantly = 肯特 布兰特利
A related Chinese article 《了无遗憾？》：
“”肯特‧布兰特利医师（Dr. Kent Brantly）因救助病人而染上伊波拉病毒，他坚持把可能救他一命的实验血清，让给另一位染上伊波拉的女宣教士。这不是女士优先的时刻，而是生死攸关的时刻；而这血清是从他所救活的一个病童身上抽取血液制成，只有一剂，他比任何人都有资格使用它来增加自己活命率。但他坚让。
A third Chinese article: 《勇敢的心——感染埃博拉病毒的美国医生布兰特利的故事》
“I am writing this update from my isolation room at Emory University Hospital, where the doctors and nurses are providing the very best care possible. I am growing stronger every day, and I thank God for His mercy as I have wrestled with this terrible disease. I also want to extend my deep and sincere thanks to all of you who have been praying for my recovery as well as for Nancy and for the people of Liberia and West Africa.
“My wife Amber and I, along with our two children, did not move to Liberia for the specific purpose of fighting Ebola. We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him at ELWA Hospital.
“One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember every face and name.
“When I started feeling ill on that Wednesday morning, I immediately isolated myself until the test confirmed my diagnosis three days later. When the result was positive, I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding. God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him.
“Now it is two weeks later, and I am in a totally different setting. My focus, however, remains the same – to follow God. As you continue to pray for Nancy and me, yes, please pray for our recovery. More importantly, pray that we would be faithful to God’s call on our lives in these new circumstances.”
Ebola crisis links:
Ebola Crisis in West Africa
Ken Isaacs, Vice President of Programs and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee concerning Ebola in West Africa.
Ebola: My last day in the isolation zone (MSF)
“I enter, take in the scene and stop to look back at Sara, who has yet to see what lies before me. She said later she knew it would be bad from my eyes.”
Fighting Ebola for Us All (NYT)
don’t see Brantly and Writebol as reckless curiosities who somehow brought Ebola upon themselves. See them as leaders on the front line of an effort to help and protect Americans and Africans alike.
Infected Ebola Doctor Kent Brantly Is an Endangered Hero (The Daily Beast)
Even atheists could find a guide to goodness in asking themselves What Would Kent Do?
I’m the head nurse at Emory. This is why we wanted to bring the Ebola patients to the U.S.
These patients will benefit — not threaten — the country.
Americans with Ebola should be welcomed home (CNN)
There are two epidemics in the world today. The first is a troubling spread of the Ebola virus in poor countries in Africa…But the second epidemic is a more dangerous one.
Ebola in Africa and the U.S.: A Curation
That I am anti-Ebola panic — and especially anti-Ebola media scrum, which was disgraceful — does not mean I am not concerned about Ebola where it is authentically a problem, which is in the expanding epidemic in West Africa. It is a dreadful outbreak, it needs attention…
Things That Are Awesome (in sharply descending degrees of awesomeness):
#2. The views on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain (浮山).
#3. Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China.
#4. Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain.
#5. Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain playing We Are The World:
Aaaaand…. #1! Those portable personal fanny-pack radios popular in Mainland China on top of Qingdao’s Fushan mountain playing When a Man Loves a Woman when you’ve hiked up there to celebrate your 12th anniversary.
Snogging pics in
So there are these minute-long Chinese sex ed videos that’ve gone viral on the Chinese internet. I suspect they’re actually aimed at parents, but they’re funny and well done. Here’s a translation of the first one, which compares conception to getting a shot at the doctor’s and makes fun of the classic Chinese answer to, “Where did I come from?”
Your mom says you were brought back from the garbage pile?
We’ve had an interest in Chinese sex ed ever since we first arrived as language students and got involved with Bright Future, a sex ed project run by an American at Tianjin University. The traditional taboo against talking about sex is still strongly felt in China, so sex ed is a special challenge. And the not-talking-about-it enables copious amounts of risky sexual behaviours and their damaging consequences (see links at the bottom), so we’re fans of creative efforts like Bright Future.
(If you want to mouseover the Chinese and get instant pop-up pronunciation/translation, install this in your web browser.)
One-minute Sex Ed #1: Where Did You Come From?
Where did you come from?
Of course your dad and mom borned you!
老师跟你说是爱情的结晶？No, no, no,
Teacher told you it was love crystals? No no no…
We are mammals, not crystal
There’s just fertilization, where’s the crystallization?
Your mom says you were brought back from the garbage pile?
Nope, your mom remembers wrong
You were brought back from a small grove of trees
You were conceived in a small grove of trees*
is your dad’s sperm making its way into your mom’s ovum
You ask how does the sperm go in…
Um, you’ve seen an injection in the hospital, right?
The needle pokes all of sudden, and the medicine is pushed in
That’s the process, more or less
Oh, so you want to know how you grew up this big?
At the very start the fertilized egg was thinner than your hair
Couldn’t be seen with eyes
Since the sperm is that small, so the needle must be really small?
No! No! No! This has nothing to do with the syringe’s size!
Ah, you’re asking does it hurt as much as an injection?
Um, I guess it will hurt like that just a bit**
Basically, you need to show filial piety to your mother, understand?
Afterwards the fertilized egg will divide
One into two, two into four, four into eight, etc.
After that, it will take shape and organize organs
This way you have a heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, throat, etc., odds and ends
What? Your mom says she’s certain you were brought back from the garbage pile?!
Censored (“I erase”)
Hold on, I need to have a chat with her…
(*P.S. — “…conceived in a small grove of trees” isn’t just some random joke. In memoirs we’ve read of China’s 1980’s, it was apparently not uncommon for couples to sneak out to public parks at night to fool around because they had nowhere else to go; living quarters were crowded and lacking privacy. I’m guessing that’s what they’re alluding to.)
(**P.P.S. — How would you translate this? 嗯，多少会疼那么一下吧)
More about Sex Ed (and the lack thereof) in China:
- Sex, drugs, and Tianjin University students [Bright Future]
- ‘True Love Waits’… with Chinese characteristics
- Teaching school girls how not to become mistresses
- Sex and Politics
Abortion, AIDS, prostitution and gendercide:
- Pro-life in abortion-saturated China — What do you do?
- “Painless”, “cozy”, “cheerful”, “3-minute”, “sweet dream” abortions in Tianjin, China
- There is no prostitution in China [Seeing Red in China]
- AIDS in the countryside – How China struggles to control the epidemic [Seeing Red in China]
- Moonlighting as Sexperts [Bright Future / NYT on China’s AIDS & abortion rates]
- Interview with Chinese exile, women’s rights campaigner and founder of All Girls Allowed
Some Christmastime thoughts on trying to live authentically and meaningfully in a culture not your own. Because the Incarnation (God being born human as baby Jesus), whether you think it’s true or not, is an interesting way to think about living cross-culturally.
It’s one thing to study the transmission and transformation of ideas and behaviours across cultural contexts. Those are issues that anyone working cross-culturally has to deal with no matter what field they’re in, whether they realize it or not. But what about how crossing cultures affects your personal identity?
As the outsiders
Here’s a bit from God Spares Not the Branches, an insightful (understatement!) exploration of cross-cultural and development work issues via the story of an American post-grad who volunteers with a local anti-AIDS NGO in Ghana. Emphases mine:
“Bryce,” his father told him, “when you step into the world of other cultures and seek to be a part of that which is different, your difference will be who you are to them. No matter how well you seem to become part of the people and their ways, you are not them. No matter how well they receive you and befriend you, your distinction is your reason for being there. When it doesn’t fit what is expected, you will feel the pain of rejection. It’s always just beneath the surface. That’s life. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is. You have to know who you are and be confident in that and what you are about.”
As a lǎowài I automatically identify with Bryce; we’re the outsiders trying to fit in and the Chinese are “them”. Even when we’re feeling good about how well we’re fitting in, even if to the point that we could momentarily forget how different we are, they wouldn’t let us forget, because they remind us every single day. We’re routinely hit with a myriad of largely ignorant-but-understandable expectations of who we are and what we’re like. I wonder what receiving these “identity prescriptions” every day is like for expats who don’t have a strong understanding of who they are and what they’re about. I suspect I’ve maybe seen that show a couple times over our five years in Mainland China.
As the insiders
But the Christmas holidays have made me re-read the above excerpt in light of the Incarnation. In Chinese Bibles it says, “The Dao became flesh and lived among us.” The idea being that the Creator, the Ultimate Being, became a human being. That’s a major living-standard downgrade, in what we could call the ultimate cross-cultural move:
He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges… [From Philippians 2:5-8]
This reverses the roles: God is the outsider and we are the “them”.
I’m not assuming Dan was thinking Incarnation when he wrote that section, but it’s an interesting angle to consider: Jesus as the ultimate model of cross-cultural identification and authenticity: leaving his home and completely taking on the language, culture and ethnicity of his host nation, while refusing to compromise who he is and what he’s about, even though he knows it will eventually result in rejection.
“…when you step into the world of other cultures and seek to be a part of that which is different, your difference will be who you are to them . . . When it doesn’t fit what is expected, you will feel the pain of rejection. It’s always just beneath the surface . . . You have to know who you are and be confident in that and what you are about.”
Maybe Dan was thinking Incarnation; so much of that paragraph relates to not just the Incarnation but also to how we treated Jesus when he refused to conform to our expectations of what he should be. But I’ll save that for a “Resurrection Festival” post (复活节), because I like to keep the meanings of my historically re-appropriated holidays clearly sorted (no crosses at Christmas!). ;)
More about culture & personal identity:
- Defining “You”
- Objects and Their Contexts
- Defining You (Pt. 2): Pick your poison
- Colonialism’s new frontier: Western beauty ideals plague China and the world
More about Christmas:
P.S. — About God Spares Not the Branches
God Spares Not the Branches gives an intimate look at the complexities of post-colonial West Africa. The events, places and people are so realistically detailed you can’t help but believe this fictional story is actually a collection of real first-hand accounts — and that’s because it pretty much is. Author Dan McVey lived in Ghana for over 20 years, raised his family there, and still spends half of every year there, mostly on his farm. He applies an insight born of first-hand, long-term cultural intimacy to a deep exploration of several interrelated issues (many of which are relevant to China) by embodying them in his characters and their experiences. If you’re more than a little interested in any of the following, I think this book is worth your time:
- The legacy of colonialism
- African corruption
- Problems with international aid and development (like priorities set not by need but by the politics of the donor nations, dependency, etc).
- Drastic societal change affecting behaviour norms and values
- The impact on sexuality of economic and gender inequality
- The influence of the internet, media and Western culture — esp. entertainment and consumerism
- The cultural hurdles in addressing HIV/AIDS
- African identity and spirituality, Christianity, Evangelicalism, Islam
- Muslim/Christian interaction
Two things in particular stand out to me:
- Intimate detail and nuance — Dan has lived into this culture and society and conveys a much richer and more empathetic picture of the people and challenges they face than what the best journalists can deliver.
- Challenging all around — This is not merely a liberal scolding of conservative Western worldviews, dragging a fictional character through a Western culture war conversion experience in a world of stereotyped stock characters (like in The Help). There’s plenty that will make Western political conservatives squirm, but Dan’s allegiances aren’t dictated by the Western culture wars. His compellingly detailed, uncompromising portrayal of African reality refuses to flinch in the face of events that Westerners, right or left, have difficulty processing. Like a shocking exorcism account, written in the same finely detailed, eye-witness-sounding delivery with which he describes farms. He doesn’t insist the reader accept the account at face value, but he also makes it difficult to casually brush off.
(Before we begin…)
- If you or someone you’re close to has had an abortion, there is loving, compassionate help available here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
- If you work in the abortion industry, there are former industry workers who will help you quit (quietly or as a whistle-blower), find a new job, and even provide legal help if needed.
- If you’re pregnant and want help, you can find everything from a listening ear to a maternity home here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
(If you know of other crisis pregnancy or post-abortion resources, please let me know!)
* * * * *
If you don’t read Chinese, what would you assume this ad — with it’s heart-shaped-hand-enveloped unborn child — is for?
Painless Abortion Surgery 无痛人流术
Give love the safest guarantee 给爱最安全的保障
Because of love — for / give the unmet child 因为爱——给未谋面的孩子
Ultimately / in the end, the best gift 最后，最好的礼物
Chinese abortion rates are so high that Chinese temporary residents skew their host countries’ abortion stats. “Pro-life” encompasses more issues than abortion, issues for which China also provides plenty of fodder (China executes more people than pretty much everyone else, for example). But I’m betting abortion is the one that’s most in-your-face.
The reasons for this are many: a big, bold abortion industry + general aversions toward the Pill or condoms + zero support for unwed mothers + the One Child Policy + male chauvinism + collectivist identity that doesn’t recognize the inherent worth or intrinsic rights of the human individual + abortion as an enhancement of China’s ongoing legacy of infanticide + poor sex ed + casual attitudes toward abortion… Point being that the chances of personally encountering abortion-related situations in China are very, very high, whether your looking for them or not.
For example, here’s a conversation a new coworker of mine had at her preschool branch just last week, on her 5th day in China:
Today the girls learned I had a huge family [she has 9 siblings]. One responded, “Your mother is very lucky, I dream of having many children in the next life.” Another responded that she already had her first child and needed to go have an abortion, do I have advice for her? Ahhh, what?!! I was like, “Oh, no! Are you sad?” She said, “Yes,” but remained totally expressionless, no big deal attitude and then kept on doing whatever she had been doing.
Imagine: it’s your 5th day in China, you’ve just learned “你好” and “谢谢“, you’re jet-lagged like anything, and a coworker asks you for advice on her impending One-Child Policy-mandated abortion.
Pro Life conscience, Abortion-saturated China
For those of you who realize that the unborn are living human individuals and who believe in universal human rights, that denying basic human rights to an entire class of human beings for the purpose of legalizing their slaughter by the millions is a gross injustice; and that offering (for a fee) to dismember alive or chemically burn to death the babies of women in hardship enables, perpetuates and profits from systemic inequality and male chauvinism, here are some questions (others are welcome to comment, too):
How do you handle living in this abortion-saturated society? What do you do? If you’re semi-literate you’ve seen the “3-minute” “painless” abortion ads. If you have Chinese friends you’ve probably had or at least overheard deceptively casual “Oh I’ve gotta go get an abortion”-type conversations. How do you respond? How do you think you should respond? How do you wish you’d responded differently in the past? Do you know of resources or opportunities for people who want to help (pregnancy and maternity support charities, adoption route options, sex education projects, etc.)? Contact me personally if you don’t want the information out in public.
Some of our own abortion-in-China stories (more are on the way), including a hospital experience and some translated conversations and advertising are here:
- “Painless”, “cozy”, “cheerful”, “3-minute”, “sweet dream” abortions in Tianjin, China
- When the news is real life
Abortion & China: