December 5, 2002 - Indianapolis Sta: Poland RPCV Mike Priller sets up China Rainbow to promote cultural exchanges with China

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 12 December 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: December 5, 2002 - Indianapolis Sta: Poland RPCV Mike Priller sets up China Rainbow to promote cultural exchanges with China

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, December 07, 2002 - 2:49 pm: Edit Post

Poland RPCV Mike Priller sets up China Rainbow to promote cultural exchanges with China

Caption: Group V leader Mike Priller talks with PCV Heather Powers at the ceremony for the farewell to the U.S. Peace Corps in Poland in 2001.

Read and comment on this story from the Indianapolis Star on Poland RPCV Mike Priller who spent eight months in China setting up schools to train Peace Corps volunteers working in that country and who liked his work there so much that he has set up a company called China Rainbow to promote cultural exchanges between Chinese and American students and teachers at:

8-month visit yields company for cultural exchanges*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

8-month visit yields company for cultural exchanges
Local entrepreneur shares impressions of Asian society while setting up a company.

By Allison Mikkalo, 14, Y-Press

Imagine a place with American rock 'n' roll blaring from the loudspeakers. Bright lights flash as kids dance. The kids are wearing baseball caps, blue jeans and shirts emblazoned with professional sports teams' logos. There's even a kid dancing with an Indiana Pacers shirt on.

Where is this teen-age disco? New York? Los Angeles? Chicago?

Surprisingly enough, this scene describes the typical teen-age disco in Beijing, China.

When most people think of China, images of rice fields, protesting students, bicycles and the Great Wall of China pop into their minds. (The wall is the only man-made structure that is visible from space). While those are all part of China, most people do not think of the new China and the dancing kids at the disco.

One visitor's experiences

Y-Press recently talked with Mike Priller, an Indianapolis man who spent eight months in China setting up schools to train Peace Corps volunteers working in that country. He liked his work there so much that he has set up a company called China Rainbow to promote cultural exchanges between Chinese and American students and teachers.

Two things surprised Priller when he first arrived in China: the amount of people and the amount of bicycles. China has more than 1 billion people. "It's four times the population of the United States," he explained.

China is a Communist country and does not allow the private ownership of cars, so the people use bikes.

"You see old people on bikes, little kids on bikes with their parents," he said.

Family life in China for the average child differs from that of the average American. Most children in China are without brothers and sisters because the government restricts families to one child, unless they have twins.

Families usually consist of one child and two parents. A lot of time, they live with grandparents. These adults are the major influence in Chinese children's lives. "There is strong peer pressure to obey parents and to respect older people," he explained.

China forbids teen-agers from getting married; couples must be at least 20 years old to marry, Priller said. He also said most Chinese teen-agers do not date, and college students aren't allowed to date until their junior or senior year.

Instead, they opt to go out in groups. Like American kids, they like to go to movies, meet with friends in the parks or shopping malls. They ride their bikes wherever they go.

They also like to play sports. Priller says they play a lot of basketball and volleyball, and gymnastics is popular. "They are very good in sports involving balance and coordination."

Musical tastes

Chinese kids listed to music and dress in clothes very similar to our own. Priller said that they love blue jeans, shirts with American lettering on them, and shirts with any American professional sports teams' logo on it.

They listen to rock 'n' roll, country and western, and soul, although some still listen to traditional Chinese music. The young tend to prefer the Western music while older people like their traditional music.

An average day for a Chinese teen differs from an average day here. The school schedule is similar to ours, except the Chinese take a two-hour break in the middle for lunch and a nap.

Students play or participate in sports after school, but they then go home and study.

"The Chinese have a lot of homework," Priller said. "They spend less time in front of the television or the radio or playing."

Priller explained that not many Chinese have televisions, and the children often find their homework interesting. "A lot of Chinese enjoy learning," he said.

There is peer pressure in China among students to perform well and to study hard. Colleges are very competitive. "Only about 10 or 15 percent of the Chinese get into colleges," Priller said.

Classes there are quite similar to our own. High-school students take classes in mathematics, Chinese, foreign languages, and some physical education. English is also studied.

"There are more people who have studied English or speak English -- our language -- in China than live in the United States," Priller said.

Punishment in the schools is very similar to the American way. Troublesome students are taken out into the hall, excluded from extracurricular activities, and their parents are called in for parent/teacher conferences.

A safe country

There is not a lot of drug abuse or drinking among Chinese high school students, Priller said. However, "Tobacco (use) seems to be on the increase."

China is a very safe country. There are severe penalties for those who break the law.

"If you are dealing a hard drug, you can be executed," Priller said.

However, they have fewer police per person than almost any country in the world. "If there's a traffic accident, you'll have a crowd gather around. They don't have police for crowd control," Priller said.

Despite the safety of Chinese streets, Priller says U.S. kids may have more freedom.

"One of the freedoms (the Chinese) have is they can walk anywhere in any of their cities and feel safe. They don't have much in the way of violence in their schools.

"Other ways they are restricted. They probably can't speak out as openly about things, although I see that's changing."

The once wide differences between China and the United States may be shrinking. Priller believes that China and the United States will become closer in the next 10 years, as the Chinese open themselves to free trade.

Elderly people are worried about the rapidly approaching westernization.

"Michael Jordan . . . is the second-most recognized name among middle-school students" in China, Priller said, adding that Jordan is second only to China's president.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Poland; COS - China; Special Interests - Business



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