Dashan Chats with ACYA

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10240995

ACYA members Charlie Lyons Jones and Scott Gigante chat to Dashan – the ‘most famous foreigner in China’.

ACYA: I would like to ask you one question… “Da” (大 big) is an adjective and “Dashan” (大山 big mountain) doesn’t really sound like someone’s name, how did you come up with it?

Dashan: Dashan is my stage name. When I first started learning Chinese, my teacher gave me a regular but bookish Chinese name called “Lu Shiwei” (路世伟). But later on in 1988, when I was studying abroad at Peking University, I took part in a sketch on a TV show at a chance. The name of my character in the sketch was “Dashan”. “Dashan” is one of the hottest words in the eighties, it’s similar to the internet slang words nowadays, it was the slang word at that time. I found the name “Dashan” pretty funny, and since it’s a joke, the audience remembered the name.

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China Road International Conference 2016

ACYA National Education Officer Declan Fry recently spoke to Kate Kalinova, a delegate at the 2016 China Road International Conference.

The China Road conference, sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the University of Newcastle, saw speakers and delegates from China and around the world giving panel and paper presentations on the concept of the ‘China Road’ from a range of perspectives, including philosophy, Marxism, economics, politics, society, education, culture, different forms of democracy, and international relations in the Asian Century.

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2016 Foundation for Australian Studies in China Conference

The Foundation for Australian Studies in China and the Australian Embassy Beijing recently sponsored 4 delegates selected by ACYA Education (2 from ACYA and 2 from the New Colombo Plan) to attend the fourth annual Foundation for Australian Studies in China Conference. After a particularly impressive round of applications was received, FASIC went on to sponsor an additional two ACYA delegates to attend the conference. The successful recipients were Chelsea Jacka, Megan Wee, Linda Ma, Ellie Wyatt, Georgia Kalyniuk, Mitchell Davies & Alexander Trauth-Goik.

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My journey to China: Alexandria Neumann

Supported by the Australian Government New Colombo Plan, Griffith University student Alexandria Neumann shares insights on her recent experiences in China. From interning at the Peking University Australian Studies Centre to attending the 4th FASIC Conference on Sustainability, Social and Environmental Issues in Guangzhou, Alexandria’s experience highlights the diversity of opportunities afforded to undergraduate students through the New Colombo Plan.

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Nick’s Food and Drink Blog – Australian Wine (Hunter Valley, NSW)

When I think of France, I think of romance, cheese, and wine.  Bad romance, but decent cheese, and decent wine. Equally, when I think of China, I think of good food, but disgusting wine (酒).  Anyone who professes love for baijiu (白酒) is either lying or probably a baijiu salesman. But despite what I think of baijiu, China is still indisputably its foremost producer.  Similarly,  no one does scotch better than the Scots.  And when it comes to wine, a glass of Chablis or a bottle of Bordeaux is simply without equal.  Or is it?

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National Taiwan Normal University’s Mandarin Training Centre | Australian Scholar Jermaine Werror

Jermaine Werror is a previous recipient of the ACYA-MTC scholarship, which is now open for applications, closing October 12. For those who are interested in studying and developing their Chinese language skills, the ACYA -MTC scholarship offers the opportunity to live and practice Mandarin in Taipei city. The Mandarin Training Centre at the National Taiwan Normal University is a well-known institution that offers intensive study programs and has attracted students from all over the world, including former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Jermaine shared his experiences as a scholar with us.

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Schwarzman Scholars Inauguration Ceremony | Australian Scholar Belinda McEniery

Schwarzman Scholars, a fully-funded year in China for the world’s most promising young leaders, is accepting applications until September 15, 2016. Anchored in an innovative 11-month professional Master’s Degree in Global Affairs at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University, the Schwarzman Scholars experience includes unparalleled learning opportunities in and outside the classroom through extensive leadership training, a network of senior mentors, practical training/internship opportunities, and travel seminars around China. Schwarzman Scholars is designed to prepare leaders for a world where China plays a key role. Scholars will learn from world-class faculty and guest speakers about the emergence of China as an economic and political force through a dynamic core curriculum and concentrations in public policy; international studies; or business and economics.

We caught up with Belinda McEniery, recent recipient of the Schwarzman Scholarship, on her experience in the program.

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Diary of my internship with Austrade in Guangzhou

I stood looking at the light green pool of water before me, marvelling at the enormous impact this small – almost unnoticeable if it wasn’t now reconstructed as part of a museum – body of water contributed to the modern history of China. Several of these pools exist, but this was one of the only ones left protected for today’s museum-goers. 177 years ago, Lin Zexu, an Imperial Qing official, destroyed more than one thousand long tons of illicit opium confiscated in the Pearl River Delta region, triggering the First Opium War, which led to Hong Kong becoming a British concession… (the rest is history).

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This museum is located in Humen, Dongguan, a small town now known for its enormous manufacturing industry, even being named ‘China’s factory to the world’, despite recent economic downturns which saw the migration of factories to lower-cost locations in South East Asia. Today, almost two centuries after the turbulent historical events that took place here, I visited Humen as part of my internship with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), en route to attending meetings and an industry seminar about the recent China-Australia Free Trade Agreement given by the Trade Commissioner (Guangzhou).

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And this was exactly what I loved about the internship in the Austrade Guangzhou office. Guangzhou is located in the Pearl River Delta region of South China, less than three hours away from Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen on super comfortable trains. Over the past ten years, Guangzhou city has become a metropolitan commercial hub of its own. The Pearl River New Town area in which the Austrade office is located is almost always bustling – even close to midnight. Guangzhou gave me a unique impression as it combines the old and the new, with advanced usage of e-commerce channels like WeChat, one can ‘like’ restaurants and companies’ pages to get free deals and discounts – in almost every single restaurant I’ve been to. For someone who has spent half her life living in Hong Kong and visiting Guangzhou before any of these developments, and half her life living in Canberra, this internship was indeed an eye-opener.

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Although my internship involved participating in day-to-day Austrade activities, such as scheduling meetings and providing event support, I also had many opportunities, thanks to the generosity of the Guangzhou team, to explore Guangzhou’s culture and business environment as part of my work. Austrade has a large, but close-knit network. It was easy to communicate with someone on the other side of China, or on the other side of the world. There are also many training and team-building opportunities. Since everyone who worked there all have a can-do, proactive and supportive attitude, I had no trouble settling into the working environment. As I undertook the internship during the 2016 election period, I was even invited to give an update on #auspol in the office and discuss the situation with my colleagues. Because I was thrown into the work of the organisation on the first day of my internship, I had the opportunity to practice my Cantonese and Mandarin almost immediately by communicating to local Austrade staff, and local businesses. Imagine the fun (and fear!) of having to organise catering on WeChat, in Mandarin, on the first day of the job! On that note, when you’re in South China, you do get brownie points if you can speak Cantonese!

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Everyday, despite the humidity and heat (I resisted the temptation of bringing a tiny electric fan around, which seemed to have become quite the fashion statement at the time), there was something new to marvel at: an inexpensive but scrumptious bowl of Japanese ramen, delicious and traditional dim sum at yum cha (this is the region where yum cha came from!), being able to visit Foshan (think kung fu and dragon dance) within two hours, affordable afternoon tea during a karaoke session with your friends, trying on qipao on historical shopping strips, boutique bookshops with cafés that belong in a Melbourne laneway…I can go on and on.

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I am extremely lucky to have picked Austrade Guangzhou for my internship. Through the ACYA application system and depending on the needs of Austrade, applicants could pick from up to six locations in which Austrade has offices in China. Twelve months ago I was anxiously awaiting a phone call from the Guangzhou team to conduct a phone interview with me, and test my Cantonese and Mandarin skills. Today, I can happily say to anyone considering applying to this internship through ACYA: don’t miss it for the world! This could be a massive step on your way to become a China-expert in Australia or an Australia-expert in China. Either way, there is no better time than now to consider working in the China-Australia economic and policy space.  

About the author: Vivian Chan is a fourth-year student of Law (Honours)/International Relations at the Australian National University. She completed a short internship in Austrade Guangzhou in June-July this year. She is currently participating in a short internship at a Canberra-based advisory firm on pro bono, China-related assignments and working as a retail assistant manager. She can be contacted on wh.vivian.chan@gmail.com for inquiries about the post or the internship application process.