Tag Archives: history

history

I like, no, love history.

I love learning about the past because it paints a picture of why the present is the way it is. Many of today’s problems have their roots in the past, in events that have transpired. I was reminded of that today when I listened to men and women from villages talk about their need for water, food and health care.

Traveling in Southeast Asia this past month, I’ve learned a great deal about colonialism and its effect on current societies. More thoughts on this in the future. But for now, I’ll leave you with a few nuggets from our past.

On this day in history:

The U.S. Constitution was ratified, 1788

Spain declares war against Great Britain, 1779

Pele leads Brazil to victory over Italy, 1970

Rolling Thunder raids in Vietnam continue, 1966

Allies surrender in Libya, 1942

 

This information is taken from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history

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Beijing blast from the past

If home is where the heart is, then my home is in Asia.

I am at home in the pungent Thai marketplace and Hong Kong’s Stanley Market. I am at home sailing down the picturesque Li River with a backdrop of mountains holding centuries-old secrets. I am at home on the train in Taiwan and the MTR subway in Hong Kong.

Whether it be perched on a waterfall ledge in northern Thailand, or wedged in a cable car ascending to the Great Wall— I am at home.

But, I am discovering the part of me that is American too.
I studied abroad in Asia this past semester. I enjoyed it immensely.
Oddly, I am finding myself ready to go back. I am missing my friends, and I am looking forward to my senior year.

Written in 2008 in Beijing

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Soccer strands, and unites Beijing reminiscent, part 2

I managed to get Olympic soccer tickets for a preliminary match in Tianjin. Tianjin is a city an hour away from Beijing.

We took the bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin—it was only 30 minutes. It takes more than an hour to go some places in Beijing!

We cheered on our U.S. men’s soccer team and I felt the bond many feel when watching their country compete in the Olympics, only this time I was experiencing it firsthand.

Tianjin missed the memo about transportation and major worldwide sporting events. Not only were there not enough trains going back to the host city, none were leaving late enough for fans to make it and see the entire event they paid money for. We had to leave the Nigeria v. The Netherlands game we had tickets for early.

Our theory was Tianjin wanted to make money off the tourists by creating a situation where tourists would be obligated to stay in their hotels and not take the 30-minute bullet train back to Beijing.

As my friends and I talked, taxi after taxi passed, already carrying passengers. We enlisted a “bread box van,” as they are called in Chinese, to take us to find a taxi. The driver collects six-inch stools from private drivers who rent them for events like these so they can sit and listen to the event on their radios.

When we found a taxi and finally got to the stadium, we had missed our train and the last train after it.

We were not alone. Many other foreigners and locals found themselves trapped in Tianjin.

Our numbers grew, and before we knew it, we had a posse. A Chinese friend, American teacher and another student joined us, followed by the teacher’s brother and another English teacher and their new-found Ugandan friend.

The ticket sellers we could wait for the 3 a.m. train and purchase standing room only tickets. We decided against this. Ten minutes after this they sold out.

Two women wearing the official American soccer jersey and a father and son from New York joined the ranks.

I admired their jerseys and remarked how we had tried to find American jerseys in the markets in Beijing and were repeatedly shown David Beckham’s L.A. Galaxy jersey.

One of the ladies is the wife of one of the U.S. coaches and they opted to stay in Beijing instead of Tianjin with the team.

I tried to make small talk with a 10-year-old boy who was there with his father. He had caught a grasshopper in the stadium and was toting him around in a box with holes poked in the top.

What did you feed it? I asked.

Grass, he said.

Also included in our numbers was a middle-aged Indian couple who had tickets to events every day of the Olympics. They, along with the soccer wives, were sold tickets earlier that day for a train that never left, or left early.

While our Chinese friends tried to strike bargains, my friend and I made a deal with a Tianjin taxi driver to take a group to Beijing. We sent the soccer wives and father and son in that taxi.

Our Chinese friends told us that because of the restrictions for the Olympics, they might not make it to Beijing. In an effort to keep crowds down, Beijing set limits on cars coming into the capital that weren’t registered within the city.

“We are calling the government,” someone informed me.

Right.

The police called us an eight-passenger van for the 13 of us who remained.

Our head count now stood with, three American teachers from Ohio, a young, four- months-pregnant couple from Ohio, one Chicago native, one Ugandan soccer player, two Chinese students, an Indian couple, an Oklahoman, a third culture kid and our Chinese driver.

We wedged into the van, some sitting and squatting in the decade-old van. The driver told us to be careful of the middle seat, it is not secured, so the passengers in the backseat supported us.

We began to feel like illegal immigrants. The driver told us that what we were doing wasn’t legal. He wasn’t supposed to drive into Beijing because he has Tianjin license plates. We would have to stop and be searched he said, and may not make it in.

I found out that the three Ohio teachers were believers and have mutual friends in Beijing.

The Chicagoan works for an animation company and frequently travels to North Korea, and may get to attend their “opening ceremony,” that is supposedly going to copy China’s.

In the dark, the Ugandan man smiled and his teeth shone in the dark as he told us his wife is expecting a baby. They now live in Australia. With the windows open in the van, I missed the soccer connection in his life story. Throughout the entire ordeal, his face always wore a smile.

Soccer talk further united us during the van. We talked about that night’s game. We discussed our favorite football clubs and players. We swapped stories about playing soccer and injuries we sustained while playing.

When we stopped at the first checkpoint we decided to take a group picture to commemorate our one and only evening together. After applying for a traffic permit and being waved through a checkpoint, we made it to the outskirts of town.

The first taxi called to say they made it safely. We finally made it safely too.

Not only did we get to see Olympic soccer, we had the kind of adventure movies are made from.

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Beijing 2008 reminiscent

I got to go to some Good Luck games! Good Luck games are pre-Olympic games intended for athletes to test the facilities and for the Olympic volunteers to practice medal ceremonies.

I was able to see synchronized swimming, fencing and basketball. The synchronized swimming took place in the “Water Cube” in the Olympic Green. The Water Cube is an architectural masterpiece. The bubbles on the exterior regulate the temperature inside. From inside you can look up and see the hollow bubbles.

Fencing was also in the Olympic Green. The basketball match I saw was the USA women’s team versus Australia.

I got to go to the Bird’s Nest! I got to see track and field, another Good Luck Games event.

The stadium is huge. Just being in it makes you feel like you are part of something amazing.

All the events were going on at one time, so it was difficult to know where to look. My best friend from Baylor came to visit during this time so she also got to come. My mom also got came to visit and came to the track and field meet.

I took my friend to all the usual sights: Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Tiananmen and the Pearl Market. It was fun seeing things through a newbie’s eyes.

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A step back in time

I thought I’d share a series of journal entries I wrote during my study abroad in China in 2008.

January 9, 2008 — Written from Nanning

So much is uncertain about this semester, and yet, God is giving me a peace. I know it will be good, but I am not sure what the semester will look like. In February, I will be making the move up to chilly Beijing to settle in to a semester of intensive Chinese.

Yesterday we went with the good friends of ours to a small, ancient village in the Chinese countryside.

After a very long and bumpy van ride, we came to the impoverished Song dynasty town. Houses from the Ming and the Qing dynasties were still standing. The houses have plaques with English explanations of their historical value and significance. Sun Yat Sen, known as the modern Father of China, was supposed to have made plans for an invasion in one of the dwellings.

The town had so many elderly people—with wrinkled and weathered faces—not dissimilar to the state of the village. Many of the backs of the elderly were stooped over from carrying the weight of decades.

I marveled about the history they have seen. Some probably were born around 1911 when China became a republic. They all lived through the Cultural Revolution. One woman we talked to was 94 years old. The town had no cars, and the China she lived in was a struggling republic. She may have been in the village when Sun Yat Sen came through.

We also saw new life. Puppies scampered in the streets like it was their domain. Many toddlers waddled around in layers of sweaters that would rival Randy’s layers in the movie “A Christmas Story.” It really wasn’t that cold, but the Chinese believe children must be dressed to the hilt in January– regardless of the outside temperature.

We ate delectable local seafood on a boat. Next to the boat, women spent their afternoon washing their clothes in the muddy banks of the river in metal washbasins.

The trip was an interesting peek into an old town trying to attract tourists.

Stay tuned for more installments from 2008…

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The Boy Who Changed the World

I like history a lot. I really love reading books that either are based on history or are history. Historical fiction is my favorite genre.

This is why I enjoyed Andy Andrews’ children’s book, “The Boy Who Changed the World.” I read this book after reading Andrew’s book, “The Butterfly Effect.”

The message in both books is the same: you were created for a purpose and everything you do matters. “The Butterfly Effect” is geared toward adults and “The Boy Who Changed the World” is for children.

The butterfly effect is a scientific theory that Andrews summarizes in the book as:

“When a butterfly flaps its wings, it moves tiny pieces of air . . . that move other tiny pieces of air . . . that move other tiny pieces of air. In fact, on the other side of the world, they might be feeling a big whoosh of wind—all because a butterfly flapped its wings here just a few minutes ago!”

The butterfly effect is a call to live a life of permanent purpose.

In “The Butterfly Effect,” Andrews talks about George Washington Carver, Henry Wallace and Norman Borlaug, who all changed the world. “The Boy Who Changed the World” also shares their stories in an-easy to understand format for children.

Andrews gives several examples of the butterfly effect applied in life. Because George Washington Carver, took interest in Henry Wallace, the former vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wallace became interested in agriculture. He became the Secretary of Agriculture and later hired Norman Borlaug. In the 1940s, Borlaug hybridized high yield, disease resistant corn and wheat for arid climates. This saved two billion lives from famine.

The book sends a great message to children.

“That means every little thing you do matters: what you did yesterday, what you do today, and what you do tomorrow. God made your life so important that every move you make, every action you take, matters . . . and not only for you or the people around you,” Andrews writes.

I’d read the book to my children. (I don’t have any, but if I did, I would).

Also, as a side note, I loved the watercolor illustrations in the book.

Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze provided me with an electronic copy of this book. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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What is the butterfly effect?

It’s a chaos theory.

No, I’m not a science fiction fan or conspiracy theorist.

Some scientists and theorists believe that a butterfly’s wings might create itty bitty alterations in the earth’s atmosphere that could possibly change the path of a tornado or create a hurricane. According to the butterfly effect theory, the flapping wing represents a small change that can cause a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events.

“Theory states: a butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air — eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.”

It’s a ripple effect. One small act by one small insignificant creature can change the course of history.

Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the outcome and direction of the tornado would be different. The butterfly doesn’t provide the energy to shift the tornado. It does “cause” it in the sense that the flap of its wings is an essential part of the initial conditions resulting in a tornado. Without that flap, that particular tornado would not have existed.

We’re small and insignificant creatures on our own. But, unlike the butterfly, we are created in His image and to honor and bring glory to God. Our acting in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading is a part of a divine plan and we can make a difference through our actions.

Butterflies hold a special meaning for me. To me, they symbolize spiritual birth and renewal. They are a sign of new life. As I embark on this journey in Asia, I hope that God will use me to create a butterfly effect.

By flapping my wings, I hope to be a change in another person’s life. I am not the initial cause or source of the change, God is.

I pray that as you and I embark on this journey we would allow God to use us to make the flap that changes someone’s eternity. You can do that from anywhere in the world and I pray you’d embark on your own journey to create a butterfly effect.

You play an integral part in this journey. Your prayers and commitment to partner are a vital flap of the butterfly’s wing. Your journey in your sphere of influence is one only you can take and one that the Lord has ordained. Use your days wisely and follow His leading.

I’m excited to be sharing this adventure with you.

butterfly

The butterfly effect

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