The Week of ObamaWritten by Julen Madariaga on January 19th, 2009
We are at the beginning of a historic week, and I just can’t not write about Obama’s inauguration. This blog is also about changing the World, and there is a chance that this Tuesday will be one of those days that changes everything. Call me a dreamer, but I want to believe that this new president of the USA will lead us to a better World, one finally based on the Rule of Law and not on the force of a few bullies. One where Western countries will not need to ask anymore for political change from China, because all know there’s no better teaching than leading by example.
Looking around the China blogosphere, I see some of the early birds have already done their Obama posts. There is this comparison of Obama’s inaugural ceremony with emperor QianLong’s, and Chinamatic here takes a look at one hilarious letter by a school kid. But I must say that up to now my favourite Obama post has been this one by Global Post. (h/t Peking Duck). I always liked the idea of interviewing a taxi driver, especially the chatty Beijing ones. These people get masses of information from all sorts of sources and can provide the best radiography of society. In this case, the taxi they chose sounds a bit conservative. He wishes Obama “to value Harmony”.
Now, one thing you don’t want to miss is the inauguration speech this Tuesday. For local info, it will be Tuesday night 12:30 China time and 17:30 West Europe. Whatever happens afterwards, this speech has all the chances of becoming a classic of political speeches. I dare say it might also become the most read/watched speech of all times: I’ve never known so many people in Europe and China preparing to watch a speech by a US president. Thousands of Chinese listened already to the election speech: We saw the Sensitive, who cried with emotion; the Ambitious, attentive to every detail of Obama’s technique; the majority, jotting down the new English vocabulary.
For American readers these links probably look too obvious, but for the rest: check out some analysis of the speech by previous presidents’ speech drafters, and here more details of the ceremony. Will Obama mention directly his ethnic background? Will he finish with “God bless America”, or with “I love you guys”? A whole lot of things to watch for Tuesday evening.
And what has Chinayouren been doing this weekend in preparation of the Historic Week? Well, among other things, reading Obama’s book in stereo Chinese-English. I bought these two books at the little stall next to my place, initially with the intention of getting some bilingual material to practice reading, but eventually captivated by the book and reading it all straight to the end (in English). As for the Chinese version, I admit I skipped a few pages and ended up in the passages where Obama plays with “Ma-li-ya” and “Sa-Sha”, which contain a vocabulary more adapted to my level.
By the way, if you are one of the thousands of Chinese out there trying to get this book, I would not recommend buying the daoban (fake) translation, buy the real one published by Han Manchun instead. The fake can be seen all over the place, riding on a thousand tricycles in Beijing and Shanghai, but believe me, I have some very serious doubts regarding the translation they are using. More about fake books in the next chapter I am preparing for this week…