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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Liuqing Yang at 12:26AM   |  3 comments
A typical "Red Songs" concert show in China. Courtesy of the Internet.

Blog post written by Lucy Yang, Journalism and Politics, ’14, FLEFF blogger, Puyang, Henan, China.

She seems to be quiet, but she’s a riot.

I had the honor to interview one of the assistants to the co-directors of FLEFF, Chenruo Zhang, and she left me with that impression.

Chenruo is a Communications major graduate student at Ithaca College. She grew up in Yixing, a small but historically significant city not far away from Shanghai, China. Before coming to Ithaca, N.Y., last summer, Chenruo spent her college life studying Radio and Television Journalism at Nanjing Forestry University.

These might all seem normal. What astonished me the most were two other things about her. These two stories unfold her qualities that she's not afraid of being different or breaking rules.

Most kids in China have to go through military trainings for about two or three times throughout their school years. I had one in middle school and one in high school, and I was supposed to have another one if I went to a college in China. But Chenruo had never completed any of her three trainings.

A lot of college students in China apply to be Communist Party members while they are in college. It is almost an unwritten social norm that being a party member equals to prestigious jobs. As Chenruo described, almost all her classmates had submitted the application for at least once, and throughout the four years of college, about half of her class ended up being party members. But she had never even applied.

I have never intended to be different in my whole life. I felt a bit ashamed comparing to Chenruo’s experiences.

When I think of this year’s FLEFF theme, “Dissonance,” I couldn’t help thinking of a rebel in a group, or how there should be a rebel, or even more, in a crowd that is blinded by authoritative forces. I think of the tragedy of the Cultural Revolution. I think of those large-scale “Red Songs” performances. Wouldn’t it be great if there were people who weren’t afraid of being different from the mass?

Just like what Chenruo said: “Everyone else doing something doesn’t mean it’s legitimate… We should be encouraged to break the rules and create something new, and that is what FLEFF is for.”

Chenruo Zhang's interview was originally conducted in Mandarin Chinese and was translated into English by Lucy Yang.


3 Comments

Lucy,

I loved reading your post! Not only did I feel like you captured Chenruo's personality, I also enjoyed the insights you shared about Chinese culture. I had no idea that most kids in China needed to go to military trainings even once, let alone three times!

Your post got me thinking that maybe being different or dissonant isn't about deliberately acting in a way to stand out from a crowd, but making your own decisions regardless of the actions of the collective. What do you think?

Lucy, thank you for including personal information in this post, as well as what you discovered about Chenruo. It added an element of connection that made reading the story all the more meaningful!

Lucy,

This was such an interesting interpretation of the theme!

I have no idea that politics play such a big role in the lives of Chinese citizens! I think Chenruo was the perfect person to interview for this blog post; I liked that you compared her experience in China with your own.

I can't wait to read more of your blogs to see how your interpretation impacts your FLEFF experience!



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