Finals in China (Eileen and Laura’s versions)


Eileen’s version

From writing this paper I learned that I am complete control freak. I also learned that Laura must be a really nice individual for still being friends with me. Once I got over the fact that a partner paper means I can’t have everything my way, things went really well. I liked this exercise, because saying things aloud really helped to generate ideas, and discussing these ideas really helped to formulate analysis. On that note, if I had not had Laura to tell me to stop rambling on about ideas, I wouldn’t have a paper. So, despite the fact that our individual approaches to writing are quite different, the partnership worked really well. I, unfortunately, often fall into the trap of writing too much. Laura, however, seems to be very disciplined in her writing. It can take her a while to come up with an idea, but once she does she goes with it. I think my pages and pages of little tidbits and sentences drove her to madness, so naturally she took over the typing part. I think we both would agree that was for the best, as we actually started to get a paper together at that point. Also, once I finally started listening to what she had to say we started to get a pretty decent paper going. My only complaint is that writing a paper with another person takes FOREVER. Although, I think I definitely learned much more than I would have if I wrote it by myself.  I would even go as far as to say that we had some really good discussions about the course material. I should also add that we are roommates, which I guess is a pretty risky person to choose as a partner for a paper. However, I think it worked out pretty well in our case. We’ve spent all semester discussing the course material, so coming up with ideas together wasn’t anything radically new. Plus, we already knew how to deal with each other. Also, it sounds like Laura is writing a novel across the room from me for this reflection (yet another one of our differences.)  Maybe I misunderstood the reflection portion of the assignment, but I hope my summary of the experience will suffice.




Laura’s version

After finishing class on Wednesday the 11th, I told Eileen I was really surprised that I am in fact becoming an editor. Eileen and I had been working together for this final paper for one of the most challenging courses at The Beijing Center. So far I had really been playing the role of the editor by asking endless questions to ourselves in order to organize the large amount of information we had, seeking for a coherent structure to write our thoughts in a logical way and, most importantly, directing the torrent of ideas that Eileen had in mind.

The paper-making formally started the previous week on Friday night. Instead of going out or doing any of the activities that youth are supposed to do for fun, Eileen and I set an appointment in our room to think about Chinese state and society. We started by understanding what we had done during the course. We asked endless questions that we later answered to ourselves. During the process we not only found the logic of the current syllabus, but also realize how much we had actually leaned about the country in which we have been living. It ended up being fun. When we were almost done going through all the selected material we had looked at, Eileen came up with an idea that might sound simple but acctually has infinite complexities; when we are looking at the state and the society we are actually observing something bigger, we are looking at the whole, we are looking at China! That meant that to examine the country we could choose the category we wanted, not only State and Society.

In following sessions, after considering “Power”, “Narratives”, and even the “You will never understand” perspectives, we finally decided to use “Revolution and Reform” to link together the information we had. We went through the materials again and wrote a list that involved a lot of discussion and me saying to Eileen that the ideas were too long, had lost the point or weren’t relevant for the focus we had chosen. I guess we have many thoughts to express and we are happy they seem intelligent and worth to share. I was sometimes too tough cutting contents and Eileen too enthusiastic about all she could say. She drank beer when I had Chinese tea and we both made a team of classmates, roommates and friends that got to complement to each other.

On Wednesday the 11th my partner in this mission and I got on the subject of me being an editor because we were inevitably talking about our exam after having class. Mosses had just talked about the specific point we had discussed just the night before: the relationship between Revolution, Reform and Resistance in Chinese state and society.

The rest of the story is more or less the same, Eileen and I discussed more than we had expected to. We also talked a lot when the complicated process of writing with four hands (like when two pianist play in the same keyboard) started. At the end we succeeded. Even if we don’t reach the A+ we considered our effort deserves, we were able to “begin to comprehend and to speak about the Chinese system in a more sophisticated way” without Sacarnos los ojos, AKA ‘gouging out each other’s eyeballs´ (not totally sure if that idiom exists in English).

Love from Beijing,

Diciembre 12 de 2013