Things really crawl to a stand still during the extended holiday surrounding Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year). So slow that all the cafeteria staff have packed up and left leaving dozens of foreigners starving, or struggling to find nourishment. Luckily with a modicum of Chinese language ability I can get produce to cook, but its still a chore, and a rather lengthy one at that, perhaps as long as a whole month. Trying to catch up on other projects during the break, with some success. I managed my first radio appearance in over two months to discuss possible US negotiations with the Taliban (http://english.cri.cn/8706/2012/01/18/2861s676847.htm). And after the official Chinese New Year (which is one day, the official holiday runs about a week, but at least in academia extends to a nearly two month gap between terms). In the interim I will visit my last remaining major site that I have yet to see (Huang Shan, Yellow Mountain), subject of countless works of brush painting and calligraphy, and the most famous of the 5 sacred mountains of China. And mid-February the mid-year Fulbright conference will take place in the southern port city of Xiamen (formerly the Portuguese colony of Amoy), which should be quaint (by Chinese standards).
Next year I expect to teach American Politics again (for credit and grade, see previous posts), along with International Organization for credit and grade, and a third course as a lecture series on American culture and society, which I think shall be fun. That one will be open to anyone and just my free flowing thoughts about life in America and being an American and the like. No grades for that one.
On the political front, the passing of Kim Jong-Il was quite interesting as the newspapers here eulogized the 'Dear Friend' and reported his masterful scholarly and artistic pieces and posted positive statements from Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos, and maybe Iran. I looked into traveling to North Korea for Kim Il-Sung's 100th birthday event anniversary, but it costs around $3,000 for a 5 day trip. still tempted to see the pageantry of Pyongyang in spring, but my frugality will likely win out.