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  Greetings from BeiJing  
  Happy New Year  
  My family and friends  
  China Sights - Great Wall, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven  
  Children's Day  
  Happy Boy Finals  
  Table Tennis & the Olympics  
  Giant Pandas  
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  October 26, 2007
Giant Pandas

This week in school we are learning about the Giant Pandas. I have seen them at the Beijing Zoo. They mainly eat bamboo. Since the bamboo forests are shrinking due to development and harvesting, the giant panda is threatened to become extinct. There are only about 1,600 left in the wild, living mostly in the mountains of central China. Giant pandas are an endangered species, and are considered a national treasure in China.

One of the giant pandas at the Beijing Zoo is named Niu Niu, and she just celebrated her 12th birthday!

Pandas at play
  August 3, 2007
Table Tennis & the Olympics

I just finished a Table Tennis sports camp week at Peking University. I was honored to be selected for this camp and receive a scholarship. I like having the time to really focus on improving how I play. It is important to think and move quickly in Table Tennis. It is a lot of work, with drills and practice all day long, but it is fun to not have to do school work every day.

Table Tennis became an official Olympics sport in 1988 during the summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Next year the summer Olympics will be in Beijing.  I can hardly wait. Everyone has been talking about the Olympics, and what events they will watch, and who their favorites are to qualify and win. My favorite events will be Table Tennis, Diving and Athletics [track and field]. There are so many new buildings being built for the Olympics. The city has changed so much with modern buildings each year!
  July 21, 2007
Happy Boy Finals

Last night we watched the finals for Happy Boy (in the US, you have American Idol which is the same thing, except we divide up the girls and boys into separate contests). This is a singing contest just for boys (the one for girls is called Super Girl). Both Chen Chusheng and Su Xing both sang really well, but the judges and text messages favored Chen Chusheng. It was pretty exciting.  He writes some of his own songs. Some of them are like the poetry I like to write.  He’ll be doing a tour this fall in southern China (where he is from), but I don’t think he’s going to be in Beijing. I’ve never been to a concert before, but maybe if he comes to town someday, I hope I will be able to go!
  June 1, 2007
Children’s Day

Today is a fun day for kids in China. My parents always take me to a museum or the movies since they are free for all children that day.

This year, we went to the movies and saw Transformers with my dad, my friend Yu Jiang, and his dad. It was great. Our favorite movie of all time, though, is Shaolin Soccer. It makes me want to go out and play soccer! I like all the Kungfu moves they do. I’ve learned how to do Kungfu (a form of Martial Arts). It’s feels great and makes your body and your mind strong. My friend Yu Jiang is a really good soccer player, and he teaches me all the time. Did you know that the earliest known form of soccer, called cu qu was invented in China in 3 BC?
  May 7, 2007
China Sights – Great Wall, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven

We have spent the May holiday visiting famous sights in China. My cousins from the United States have been visiting us for the past few weeks, and we took them to see the Great Wall at Mutianyu, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven. It was the perfect time to go, since there is no school, it is not too hot, and not as crowded as summertime.

If you come to visit China, be sure to see the Great Wall of China. Did you know the Great Wall is the longest structure ever built? It's about 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) long. It was built entirely by hand. Some parts of the wall were built by pounding earth with hands and feet, into a form over 10 feet wide. The wall crosses northern China between the east coast and north-central China, winding like a dragon over the surface of the rolling hills. It is one of the only man-made objects that can be seen from Space. We are very proud of the wall, and many efforts are being made to restore and maintain it for everyone in the world to visit and enjoy.

My cousins thought the marble boat at the Summer Palace was really cool. The last empress Dowager Cixi,
about 100 years ago, decided to spend all the government’s military money to build this boat. If I was one of the people living at the time, I would have been mad. It was always meant to be decorative – it would never float. It just sits in the water like a monument. But there is nothing else like it in the world, so I guess that makes it pretty memorable.

My favorite site was the Temple of Heaven. It was built for the Emperors to pray to Heaven. Odd numbers are heavenly, and 9 is the largest single odd number, so many elements of the temple include 9 or multiples of 9. We had fun at the echoing wall. I stood at one end of the wall, and my cousin Eric stood at the other end, and we could whisper to each other! It’s a good thing we were there early in the morning because we probably couldn’t have heard each other if it was crowded and noisy.

Great Wall
Marble boat at Summer Palace
  March 17, 2007
My Family and Friends

I do not have any brothers and sisters. I wish I did, but most of my friends do not have brothers or sisters, too. So we spend time together, just as if we really were brothers and sisters. My best friend is Yu Jiang. We go to the same school, and live in the same building.

On Sundays my family walks to the park. We do not go to any type of church. We watch people practice T'ai Chi in the early morning. It is a form of martial arts training and meditation. Later Yu Jiang and I and our friends from the building play soccer or basketball.

Although we don’t go to church we follow the ways of our ancestors that help us focus on important things in our lives. Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived almost 2000 years ago, and he taught the importance of family, and how strong families make a good society. He also emphasized the importance of education and the arts. My parents teach me that it is important to help others and most of all, to be loyal to your family no matter what.
  February 18, 2007
Happy New Year

Xin nian kuai le (shin neeyan kwai luh) Happy New Year! Tonight we start our New Year celebrations. It’s the first new moon of the year. For two weeks we will visit relatives, exchange gifts and enjoy various festivals. Red lanterns have been hung outside the buildings as decorations and people are gathering in the courtyards to set off fireworks. Tomorrow we will go to my grandmother’s apartment and make dumplings. It is a tradition. When my grandmother makes dumplings, the person who finds a coin in their dumpling will have good luck and good fortune for the year. We also go to the temple to light incense and pay respects to our ancestors. I like receiving hongbao (good luck money in red envelopes) from my parents, grandmother, and uncles.

But the best part is the fireworks! You will hear fireworks all hours of the day for two weeks straight. Did you know that fireworks were invented by the Chinese? Actually, the Chinese invented the gunpowder that makes fireworks spark. We have factories that make a lot of the spectacular fireworks shown around the world. They are constantly developing new colors and techniques for spectacular new special effects.

This year is the year of the pig [boar]. There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. Each year is represented by a different animal. Everyone gets a turn to celebrate their year every 12 years. We are told that people born in during the year take on some of the personality of that year’s animal. Pigs are honest and patient.

I was born in the year of the Rat. Rats are passionate and energetic problem solvers.  Next year will be the year of the Rat. I will be 12 years old, but according to the Chinese tradition, everyone is considered 1 year old the day they are born because you cannot be 0 years old, so I am actually 12 years old now, in the traditional Chinese system.

Chinese New Year fireworks
Year of the Rat
  January 11, 2007
Greetings from Beijing

My name is Wang Yu. But everyone calls me Xiao Yu (shee-yeow you). In China, the family name comes first and your given name is second. My family name means Emperor or King and my given name comes from the word wing or feathers, and is the same name as the legendary general from the early Han dynasty. Together my name represents strength and royalty, but I do not always feel strong or powerful like a king. I guess that it is a good reason to have my name – to give me confidence. Xiao means little, but not because I’m little, just because I am young and it is less formal.

I live in the Haidian district of Beijing, where many of the universities are (north west quadrant of the city). My parents are professors. My mom teaches chemistry and my dad teaches electrical engineering. We live on campus, on the 18th floor of this building. It’s really the 15th floor, but in China you do not name floors 4, 13 and 14 because it is bad luck.

Boy, is it cold. It gets pretty cold in the winter about 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 0 degrees Celsius), but in the summer it can be very hot and sticky. Unfortunately it's not summer right now; it's cold and I have to wake up at seven o'clock, so I can be at school at eight.
Our apartment building

I go to school six days a week and get Sunday off. I’m really good at Math, but I really enjoy Literature and art classes. My favorite hobbies are painting and writing poetry.

I usually ride my bike to school. A lot of people ride bikes in China.

At school I learn to write using the Chinese writing system, where we use characters instead of an alphabet. Each character is a symbol that stands for a complete word or idea. Today’s writing system is simpler than it was before 1964. People are busy and they want quick shortcuts!

Well I got to go. Bye.

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