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China Learning Initiatives, Center for Global Education at Asia Society
Chinese Language Matters February 1, 2017
Fire + rooster
Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! 

This issue of Chinese Language Matters is dedicated to celebration of the Lunar New Year, ushering us in to the year of the Fire Rooster. While the 12 animal signs are the most widely recognized aspects of Chinese astrology in popular culture, there are additional elements of traditional Chinese culture that add to the complexity of the system: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The combination of these five traditional elements and the 12 animal signs creates a 60-year cycle: 12 animals, five elements. 

Last year was the year of the Fire Monkey, which brought with it erratic impulsiveness and dramatic flare, according to the traditional qualities ascribed to the Fire Monkey. The “fire” aspect of the Fire Monkey emphasizes energy. Fire is powerful, but spreads and can easily get out of control. And it was certainly a notable year for upheaval and change. But regardless of your background, beliefs, or outlook, it's clear that what is needed now is acceptance, appreciation, and empathy for those around us—especially those with whom we don’t fully agree or understand.

Which is why it's an opportune time for the Rooster to arrive. Throughout history, this animal has served people—calling them to awaken and get to work. He alerts us that a new day is dawning, but it's our responsibility to make the best of that day. One of the Rooster’s great features is the ability to delay gratification and focus on long-term goals; to separate the reward from what is required to achieve it. Although our daily routines can sometimes push larger goals aside, as one year concludes and another begins it’s a good time to reflect on why we do what we do and its importance in the grand scheme of things. The work of educators is crucial to building social harmony, both locally and globally, for both the present and the future. In teaching our students language, culture, and global understanding, we impart to them what it means to see from a different perspective, and that no one perspective can claim to be right.

So the Year of the Fire Rooster comes just in time, calling us all to wake up and get to work. We wish you, your families, students, colleagues, and friends a happy, prosperous, and active New Year.

The Asia Society China Learning Initiatives Team
China Straight Up
春运 According to "The Great LOL of China"
How big of a deal is 春运 (chūnyùn; literally "spring movement") in China? In this "New Years" episode of The Great LOL of China, Jesse Appell brings us apocalyptic scenes of city streets emptied of humanity during Chinese New Year. What is not shown, however, is the human experience behind this annual return home, or the societal implications of the simple existence of the event. In order to understand the cultural relevance behind Jesse's spoof of empty streets, one needs to understand where all these people are coming from, and where they are going.
The Legacy of China's Literacy Reformer, Zhou Youguang
Zhou Youguang, known as the father of Pinyin, died this month in Beijing. He was 111. The New York Times published a lengthy obituary of Zhou, concluding with a quote: "When you encounter difficulties, you need to be optimistic," he said. "The pessimists tend to die."
Registration Now Open for the 2017 National Chinese Language Conference
Register Now: National Chinese Language Conference 2017 | April 6-8, Houston, TXBe an early bird and register for the 2017 NCLC by February 15 to get the most savings! Join us in Houston, Texas, April 6–8 for the 10th annual NCLC. Learn more and register today!

Check out highlights, videos, and photos from past conferences, and look for updates on Twitter with the hashtag #NCLC2017.
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China Learning Initiatives Team
Center for Global Education at Asia Society
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