Culture Sample: what Americans might learn from Chinese health care.

Roughly half-way down the list of things that expats in china are most often asked by folks back home is some variation of “what’s the health care system like?” I’ve visited enough Chinese hospitals and clinics to provide the answer that everyone kind of expects (“cheap” [for an expat], chaotic, highly efficient, not to ‘western’…

Don’t sneeze at others: SARS memories for a swine flu present

Now that swine flu hysteria is close to full bloom, I dug into the old photo archive and pulled up this classic set of instructional posters from SARS-era Shanghai. For a couple of months during Winter/Spring 2003, these were pasted everywhere – every spare wall (anybody out there remember if these showed up in other…

Fresh Eyes and Missing Faces

Among longer-term expatriates in China I think there’s a bit of a tendency to downplay – or downright denigrate – the observations made by first-time visitors and newcomers. I’m not immune to this tendency. Indeed, I think the worst offenders might be members of my own cohort: turf-sensitive journalists and writers. Quite frankly, I can’t…

Love in the Time of Migrants

I recently received an email from an expatriate friend involved in a cross-cultural relationship in one of my favorite Chinese cities. I asked, and received permission to publish this passage, but only with name excised, and as a stand-alone, no comment. So, without further ado: Often, I think, I love the places from which X…

Useful Phrases for a Lost Shanghai

[updated with a few more phrases … I couldn’t help myself.] This afternoon, while researching a topic wholly unrelated to Shanghai dialect, I somehow landed upon Useful Phrases in the Shanghai Dialect (1908), a lost treasure from a lost Shanghai (click for an enlargement). Published in 1908 by the American Presbyterian Mission Press (which, apparently,…

So what’s a nice Newsweek editor like you doing, moonlighting as a Shanghai playwright?

Cut to my friend Megan Shank, the Shanghai-based, soon-to-be former editor of Newsweek Select (the recently axed Chinese-language edition of Newsweek). Of all the journalists that I know, Megan’s job is/was the most challenging: namely, writing, editing, and translating Chinese and English language content for a major news weekly, while managing a staff. And somehow,…