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2.3 Yo-Yo Ma

Today we’ll meet one of the greatest cellists of our times, Yo-Yo Ma. His career as a professional cellist spans more than 20 years and over 50 albums. He has been honored for his music with many awards including an amazing 14 Grammy. He has played on many important occasions including the Grammy and the Olympics.

Yo-Yo Ma was born in France to Chinese parents who were both musicians. His mother was a singer, his father, a composer. Yo-Yo Ma gave his first public performance when he was only 5. Four years later, at the tender age of 9, he was playing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York, by which time the family had moved to the US. Yo-Yo Ma pursued his cello studies at the Julliard School of Music. From there he opted to attend Harvard and got a degree in anthropology. His experiences at Harvard as well as his multi-cultural background have helped to shape who he is today.

Today Yo-Yo Ma continues his musical journey, never hesitating to collaborate with musicians of all genres and from around the world. He is inspired by people and nature. To him, the cello is an extension of his vocal cords. The most important thing when he plays is to give all of himself all of the time in a performance, to try to transmit the contents of the music to the audience he is playing for.

7.2 Prepare for the worst

When nations are faced with great catastrophes, it is common for the accusations to start flying before the dust settles or any debris has even been cleared.

Commentators are quick to raise a cry over government action or lack thereof, or whether the disaster could have been averted or its deadly consequences mitigated. This is especially true when many lives are lost and many more are at stake, and society is forced to cope with something terrible for the first time.

There is always a steep learning curve when it comes to responding to calamities of this kind, and Mother Nature does an expert job of keeping us on our toes. The ability to expect the unexpected should perhaps be considered a necessary virtue for public officials.

The Indian Ocean tsunami that wreaked havoc in southern Thailand and other neighboring countries is a perfect example of why that is so.

New policies, organizations and procedures will spring up amid the devastation. Expensive new technologies will be deployed and bureaucrats shuffled around. The world of officialdom will appear to be in control, actively responding to needs and crises as they arise.

As a society, the people of Thailand have demonstrated that they can come together and help one another in times of crisis. But we must now work much more resolutely to prepare for possible disasters, no matter how high or low their probability. We cannot just focus on the next tsunami because the next big catastrophe could equally well be something totally different and unexpected. We must prepare for the worst, no matter what form it may take.

7.3 Extreme Sports

In the past, young sportspeople would play hockey or baseball. Today, they want risk and excitement --- the closer to the edge the better. They snowboard over cliffs and mountain-bike down steep mountains. They wind-surf near hurricanes, go white-water rafting through rapids, and bungee-jump from towers. //

Extreme sports started as an alternative to more expensive sports. A city kid who didn’t have the money to buy expensive sports equipment could get a skateboard and have fun. But now it has become a whole new area of sport, requiring specialized equipment and high levels of skill. There’s even a special Olympics for extreme sports, called the Winter X-Games, which include snow mountain-biking and ice-climbing. An Extreme Games competition is held each summer in Rhode Island. It features sports such as sky-surfing, where people jump from airplanes with surfboards attached to their feet. //

What makes extreme sports so popular? I think the main reason is that people love the thrill. City people in particular want to be outdoors on weekends and do something challenging. With the new equipment available today people can take greater risks without getting hurt. And the risk itself is part of the appeal. Once you have been mountain biking or snow-boarding, it’s impossible to go b ack to cycling or skiing. They are just too boring. //

Extreme sports are certainly not for everyone. Most people still prefer to play baseball or basketball or watch sports on

TV. But extreme sports are definitely gaining in popularity. These fresh and exciting sports could well be the wave of the future.

17.1 The new generation of China specialists

Having walked through China’s hutong and rice paddies, lived on mantou and doufu, interviewed ganbu and accessed dang’an, experienced the daily life in danwei, ridden the rails hard seat across China, and possessing reasonable fluency in putonghua, the new generation of China specialists brings a “feel” and authenticity to their writing often absent in previous generation. (他们曾漫步于中国胡同里和稻田埂上,吃的是馒头和豆腐,与干部长谈过,查阅过档案,体验过单位的日常生化,坐着火车硬座游览了中国,同时能讲相当流利的普通话。在这新一代中国问题专家的著作和文章中,体现了一种“现实感”和真实感,这在上一代的专家中是没有的。)

17.2 The world’s culture types

According to Michael Hick, an American author, the world culture types can be divided into three groups: data-based, relationship-based, and group-based.

Data-based culture type includes people living in North America, North and Northwest Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They are dominated by schedules, timetables and projects, and a strong sense of individualism and personal personality. They like to be punctual, factual, and get on with business. Data-based people like to do one thing at a time and work with pre-agreed agendas, follow-up memos, and confirmations. They love information and live by statistics, back-up material, and reference books. They follow correct procedures, work according to fixed hours, and respect officialdom. For them, social and business life is separate; they are less emotional and generally use limited body language. This group numbers around 600 million.

Relationship-based people comprise the largest population group, numbering almost 3.9 billion, residing primarily in South America, the Mediterranean lands, Near East, Middle East, Africa and India. They are generally extroverts, talkative and gregarious, believing that relationships are more important than anything else. They often do several tasks at the same time and do not easily keep to timetables. Relationship cultures rarely write memos, follow up with correspondence, or prepare agendas, but they are often highly creative, artistic, poetic, and cultured. They relish excitement and colorful experiences. Plans are changed, strings are pulled, and facts are flexible to them. Business, pleasure, and social life are intermixed, and relations are often involved. They have people-oriented interactions where emotions, unrestricted body language, and interruptions are part of the behavior.

Group-based culture type tends to be introvert, patient and silent. Their style is to be respectful listeners, exercising tolerant impartiality. Everything relates to the team, group, family and ancestors, corporate identity, or to others with whom they are temporarily in contact. They come mainly from Asia, Japan, China, Korea, and the Southeast Asian countries and number almost 1.5 billion. Issues are seen in the context of the group picture: how to work together, to assist each other, and to conform to the group philosophy. Group-based people are thoughtful of others, avoid confrontation, and save face on behalf of themselves and others. They delegate to reliable people and base their business relationships on trust and honesty. Group-based cultures like to mix business with social life and appreciate modesty, wisdom, and respect for the elderly.

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