Category Archives: Uncategorized

Event at Yale Center, Beijing

I’ll be playing MC this Saturday at the Yale Center here in Beijing for a discussion among four fantastic educational leaders, two local and two from New York.  Here’s the event description:

“The leaders will discuss both Chinese and western opinions on how to raise healthy, happy, creative children. How much should children play, and how much should they study? How can we teach young children to be moral, and what lessons should we teach them? How should parents balance the need for children to enjoy childhood with the need for children to prepare for competitive future realities? What programs exist to promote healthy, vibrant young people?”

Hope those who are in town can join us!

Book Week at YK Pao

A big thanks to Kendra Perkins, Tony DePrato, and all the wonderful hosts at YK Pao.  I had a great time visiting and discussing Kosher Chinese, writing, and life in Guizhou.


Who Will Steal Your Job? (Full Video)

Thanks again to Joseph Lemien, Sino-American Talks, and the Courtyard Institute for hosting this great event.  Click here to watch the full video.



Who Will Steal Your Job?

On Sunday, I’ll be speaking at the Courtyard Institute here in Beijing at an event hosted by 美中说 and Project 朋友.  The tongue-in-cheek question for the evening is “Who will steal your job in ten years, a graduate from Peking University, or a graduate from Oberlin?”  This question is, of course, a proxy for the larger debate about the value of the Chinese school system and its reliance on high-stakes test, and the western school system and its embrace of the liberal arts.  For a preview of the event, watch this.

What to read if you want to learn more about China

Friends often ask me to suggest some good books on China, particularly during summer.  So here, at the mid-point of the summer, I’ll point people to a good list provided by Project Pengyou.  Enjoy your summer reading!


Why foreigners are fleeing Beijing

Why foreigners are fleeing Beijing

Sure the pollution is apocalyptic, the traffic is unimaginable, the politics Orwellian. . . but it’s still a great place to call home.


East-Meets-West Curriculum Work Continues

East-Meets-West Curriculum Work Continues


Lantern Festival in Beijing

My new post on the Avenues blog.


China: Winning the App War?

Mobile technology in China runs largely parallel to the rest of the world.  Here, there are rarely Google searches; instead, we use Baidu (Google searches account for less than 2% of the total in China; Baidu searches capture more than 65%).  We don’t use Ebay; instead it’s Taobao.  There’s no Twitter, Facebook, or WhatsApp; these are all rolled into WeChat.

The parallel world exists here in part because of the Great Firewall of China.  It also exists because platforms built to support primarily Chinese language inputs need a different DNA than those built to support primarily English language inputs.  Finally, we have a parallel tech world here because of different interests, assumptions, and expectations of Chinese consumers.

One result of this is a handful of billion dollar tech firms that few Americans have heard of.  The coolest, most desired jobs for young Chinese are at companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei.  To my friends in NYC, these sound more like Disney characters than competitors to Apple and Microsoft.

Another result of living in a parallel tech world is I get to see the breakneck speed of innovation at Chinese companies.  There are some stunningly useful apps in China that either blow the U.S. equivalent out of the water, or are so unique that they have no parallel back home.  One example: China’s versions of Uber.  (Uber exists in China, but it is struggling).  I use DiDi to call for a car.  It is voice activated, allowing me to record a quick message to the driver.

But my favorite new app is Baidu Translate.  I can photograph something and let the magic of a Baidu algorithm find the word for the object in the photo in both English and Chinese.  Yesterday, I forgot how to say “humidifier” in Chinese.  So I snapped a photo of my humidifier, and, presto, Baidu told me how to say it (加湿器, for the curious).  Brilliant!

Of course, it’s more fun to talk about the fails than the successes.  Check out this tumblr and see how Baidu thought a chicken was a flying squirrel, and thought Sun Yatsen was Elvis Presley.