So, it is about China. Back in 2005 when I was in a program named APLP and we had a 'lecture' somewhere in Washington DC as a part of the APLP program. I could not remember exactly the name of the building where the lecture was taken place but I still remember when the speaker made a prediction about China. He said that in the next 20 years, that will be in 2025, China will overtake US economy. I was not so convinced about the idea at that time despite the figures, facts and projection he made. Over the years, that notion is apparently to be right. One of stunning moments currently is the fact when Europe: particularly Italy and Greece, are on financial crisis and China was approached for a help but refused to bailout the countries.
Another obvious fact is that US is heavily in debt and China is the biggest lender to the country. For sure, most of state governments have debt from foreign governments. I wonder if China does have foreign debt as well. I guess not but I suspect that China government might have domestic debt as well. Not sure. But, it's hard to deny that China has the money, become a new lender and for sure it maintains its steady economy growth.
And yet, Chinese students are sent overseas over the years and mostly, i guess, they pay themselves. As I mentioned previously here in Birmingham, international students might be predominant by Chinese students. I do not have exact figures though. But, again, particularly at Business School, once you enter the building and meet people, the scene is very much you are somewhere in China and not in England.
What's more, in terms of development discourse, particularly in Africa context, it is obvious that China's presence in the region sometimes becomes a hot issue. For some, they are welcomed and for other there is an opposition as well.
Anyway, yesterday in Cambridge. I heard unintentionally a conversation between a lady, quite old and a young man, i guess this young man is her son. If I recall my memory right, the lady asked why there were a lot Chinese there. And the young man mentioned about the justification that the China's economy is getting better and it's not far back from their economy (Britain). Well, the point what I'm saying is there is an acknowledge that China's economy is quite good and the country is able to catch up with other developed countries.
So, generally speaking China is getting better off. Now, the question becomes more complicated when this issue is correlated with democracy as China is perceived as an undemocratic nation. For some, they would argue that China is not a democratic country, doesn't respect human rights, so on and so forth. As a communist country, China becomes simply a bad example when it comes to democracy and human right. For others, however, despite not being clearly defend China, they might argue somewhere in between, while pointing out particular circumstances, they say that democracy is a process and not something imposed over. Yesterday, somehow, reading an article about Russia in an article of New Internationalist also suggests that the result of Perestroika leading the break-up of Soviet Union has not been satisfying. Not to mention back home, Indonesia, how we experience drawback of what we perceive as a democracy. I am not implying that detaining people due to his/her political opinions is a right thing or agree on whatsoever forms of human right oppression but the point I try to make is naively accepting or rejecting an idea or concept without seriously taking a look on its own complexity might not a good step to be made.
Drawing the line, somehow, I think the concept of democracy might need a new conceptualisation as the facts suggest that almost all democratic nations become bankrupt. Attached with it, free market: neolib and capitalism might need to be re-considered instead of taking them for granted. But, that's just my two-cents. Yes indeed, just my two-cents...
I visited Cambridge today in a one-day tour for international students arranged by EISU, a division of English Dept. After more than a year here, I finally wanted and visited the university. As usual, most of the students are Asians and the others are Europeans. When I say Asia, that means Chinese students and European here refers to students from continent Europe . Every tour has been predominant by Chinese students and obviously they share a large part if not the largest of international students.
Anyway, the tour was nice. I tried to avoid any googling about Cambridge prior to the tour. I rather to find out whatever I found than to have a particular plan what to visit and what to do. I was curious about the canal, somehow. I thought that the whole University circled by a river but in fact it's not but a large part. I was about to enter some of the colleges when suddenly it came to me that hanging around might be a good idea. If I really want to know about the story and history of the buildings and so on, I can find it from many sources. But to find out the story out of the text, that's the moment i thought. So, my first stop is a small market selling handicraft and art stuffs. It's a quite small open place though. I bought my first cup fair trade coffee of the day there and then walked around.
Second stop is in front of a church listening to a street singer. He's old and her voice is louder than his guitar, i guess. I noticed that he repeated a same song twice. I heard four of his songs. While listening to him, I observed people around :) I do really like to observe how people behave and act. Some young people were busy offering punting service and visitors taking photos regardless the right spot for a good light, or whatever but yes that's cool. Then, a group of Chinese putting their banner in a right place where people around can see them clearly and their message. Their message is clear: to dissolve a single party, Chinese Communist Party. I noticed that this is quite surprising if not shocking to Chinese students visiting the place. And if this banner took place in China, for sure, the protesters would disappear immediately by Chinese authority. But, they do that in England, so that's quite safe. Concerning about China, there are just a lot dots appeared in my head on the way home. But hopefully, I can write about it tomorrow.
Thinking of doing PhD. If the question is why I would do that, well to be honest doing this M.Phil now is quite interesting and in a way I find that doing research is quite challenging. I learn a lot. I do. It's not easy but worth it.
I begin to enjoy intellectual debates, and come to realisation that maybe just maybe if I have better knowledge I might be able to bring any good impact however small it is for farmers particularly when it comes to policy decision making or any decision considering their interest. If, say spending another three years, could make difference later in life why not to take the chance. Spending three years doing projects or say working for instance could also make a difference. However, the dimension might be not quite same. Let's be very sceptical, I won't change the world but at least can do something good to just a person, that would be enough. What else to do in life? At the very least, call it as a paying back. Paying back to people who once do good thing in my life. That's a thought lately.
Last year, the thought to pursue PhD was not as stronger as now. I don't know. Last year was like, try to illustrate it as a soldier gets into a battle field without proper preparation on that particular field, continuously given shots and the only thing could be done is defending one self and trying to escape. lol. I feel better now though. Well, not to mention get used to all British things; weather, language and cultural barrier, academic life, people, so on and so forth. Another critical factor, i guess is the idea to come home as soon as possible occupying my thought. Nothing's wrong with that but seems it fades away. It's not that I don't want to, but it's something beyond my power and thought. Well, I'll be back home for sure anyway, next year and try to find any activity (job if you like) to work with cocoa farmers and then do the PhD. That's the Plan A. Plan B? working :)
actually, last weekend, i went to cefn lea park, newtown, mid wales. i went with a group, global community. we were all 21 persons. it was fantastic, getting close with big family of the group and supporting each other. i'd say the experience was a step for my growing spirituality. indeed from that 'weekend away' i guess there is a kind of a 'call' if you'd like for a new spirituality. been so long, i avoided such thing.
and it was a beautiful place, indeed. i always like the country side settings. although i was not able to do tracking on the top of the hilly side but perhaps next summer will be if it's organised again. i was not able to see the city around the conference park somehow. but again, overall, i'd say it's a wonderful experience.
| view from the cefn lea park, mid wales | click the picture to enlarge
officially 35 years, yesterday. heh, and here i am. well, i'm not a type of celebrating b'day somehow. i don't mind partying or whatever celebration for anybody else but not for me. i dunno. i feel awkward to do that for me. let me find out what in my state of mind avoiding such thing. i guess, when i was kid, we didn't use to celebrate it but perhaps doing small things such as receiving a small gift from parents or having a special food on that day. i think. i'm not sure. recalling my memory on it, it's hardly to find out any occasion where people celebrate my and others' b'days. i guess... i might miss any memory of mine about it but so far i can't remember any occasion associated with that thing. when i grew up, i remembered an occasion when my high school classmates celebrated my b'day which was wrong on date. i think i gave them wrong date, intentionally, of my b'day and thought they would forget it in one or two days until it surprised me when they celebrated it on the date, wrong date unfortunately. oh no.... not sure what they wrote in the b'day card somehow.
the other occasion was lately, like 3 or 4 years ago in office when my colleagues and some internship students in my org gave me a surprise celebrating my b'day. In this case, it is on the right date. It's easy to track your birth of date when you're in office, somehow. and other ones, when i was with my gf, i guess, but because we were in distance, so just saying happy b'day and all and that's it.. and it turns out that only my youngest bro and my last (?) gf still remember and wished me b'day yesterday.
but anyway, i celebrate my b'day somehow. i do. i used to go out somewhere, bukit lawang i remember most, to have reflection. or staying out night and figuring out what's has been happening to me during the year. or wandering in town observing things. yesterday, i tried to walk around and taking some pics and attempted to sit on a bench, somewhere near the university. but couldn't take long as it was getting cold.
but i like such thing avoiding people out loud singing happy b'day and so on.. anti-social behavior? lol i guess not. for me, for me, it's just a personal thing. it's same like what you believe, how much you earn or any private things and you don't have to necessarily say it out loud. i don't know how i come across such thinking but i'm very happy to do that. can't be more happy :)
anyway, looking back, sort of reflection if you'd like, i guess my life is quite okay. what i mean is i do not regret for anything i should have done or got, i guess. i'm not saying either that my life is perfect but at least i'd say i'm satisfied what i'm now, whatever it is. this year, somehow, i'm on my year studying, something that i longed for so long since my undergrad graduation day. i couldn't figure out how i'd be able to have another education, postgrad, at that time. oh, i once thought working abroad and then do the postgrad. unfortunately, that didn't lead me on that way. but it turned out that i worked for non-governmental org or NGO in which i liked it so much not only for i consider that at least i spend my life for someone else, but also in that field did i find freedom of creativity and thinking, if you'd like. and that's how it leads me here. activism if you'd like brings me here. well..that's what i think.
if the question now is what to do in future? hmm... it's not that i don't have things in mind as i always have. but, i'm supposedly to come back home after the two years spending studying here. that was the initial plan. but, in the middle of the first year of being here, things seem changed. not to blame on anybody else as i don't have to and it's not a good thing to do, and perhaps it's my mistake as well why the plan changed, but i guess life sometimes is surprising. so, here i am que sera, sera.
next december, i'm going to have a presentation on my research and soon after i complete it, i will reward me an ear piercing.. that's no a bad reward for one self for b'day and my study, right? actually, i want to have a tattoo, but i'm still thinking abt it.