Strangers in China features voices from the edges of an emergent new China.
We talk to people with unique perspectives on Chinese society: dissident voices, queer voices, marginalized voices. Some belong to those who push boundaries creatively, while others are just fighting to be seen. All are uniquely Chinese.
All too often, stories about China fail to navigate the many nuances of Chinese society, and overlook those who think or live differently. We’re here to listen closely and illuminate their stories.
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What’s cooking in Taiwan
Have you missed Strangers in China? We have, too. Enjoy this bonus podcast, co-produced by Clay Baldo and Chris Hankin. More episodes will come in the fall.
The conversations you will hear center on the experiences of students who are now attending the Kaiping Culinary School (kāipíng cānyǐn xuéxiào 開平餐飲學校) in Taipei. This school accepts students who would otherwise struggle within the Taiwanese educational system. At Kaiping Culinary School, however, they find a place to be heard, and to learn.
Epilogue: In the wake of the plague
In a follow-up to the previous episode of Strangers in China — Chapter 8: The Plague — Clay reconnects with previous guests for an update on how COVID-19 is impacting their lives in China.
On March 10, Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 toured Wuhan. The message was clear: He was declaring victory over this disaster on behalf of the Chinese people. One question remains to be answered, though: Is this plague really over, or are we just in the eye of the storm?
This episode was produced by Clay Baldo, with audio mastering by Kaiser Kuo and research help from Shunyao.
“Analytical Skeletons,” “Hip hop instrumental,” “Vaporize Me,” and “Crumbling Chia Pets,” by Csus; “Road Trip,” “Fake Mustache,” and “Wait What,” by Purrple Cat; “f@y,” by Jack Meijer; “I Like You.,” by ARTST_UNKWN_2; “I Was Nothing,” by Le Gang; “IC3PEAK,” by svd_b1tch; “Hip Hop Instrumental 82 BPM,” by Terri Skillz; and “xmpty” and “Light Showers,” by lofee.
Chapter Nine: Mulan
In this final episode of season 1 of Strangers in China, we meet the remarkable Jessie: She studied her way out of abject poverty in rural Hubei while raising her younger siblings. She faced down thugs who were trying to collect debt from her deadbeat father. Then, she made it to Shanghai for college, only to be told she doesn't belong. Meanwhile, she created a rich inner life, inspired by literature, philosophy, and lots of Greek mythology.
“Analytical Skeletons,” “Shia Baat,” “Gifts,” and “Vaporize Me,” by csus; “Road Trip,” “Fake Mustache,” and “Sad Ending,” by Purrple Cat; “f@y” and “337,” by Jack Meijer; “xmpty” and “Light Showers,” by lofee; “I Was Nothing,” by Le Gang; “Sorrow,” by Sappheiros; and “I Like You,” by ARTST_UNKNWN2.
Chapter Eight: The Plague
This week on Strangers in China, we hear from people all over China about their experiences during the last few weeks, as a deadly pathogen has turned crowded metropolises into virtual ghost towns. There’s a lot of fear and anxiety, but also a lot of pulling together for the common good. And boredom — lots of boredom. Hear how ordinary Chinese are coping with the coronavirus.
Theme song: “Analytical Skeletons,” “Hip hop instrumental,” “Vaporize Me,” “Crumbling Chia Pets,” and “Shia Baat,” by csus; “Road Trip,” “Fake Mustache,” “Sad Ending,” and “Wait What,” by Purrple Cat; “f@y,” by Jack Meijer; “Xmpty,” by lofee; “I Was Nothing,” by Le Gang; and “MTL,” by JMC.
“Man uses sanitary pad as mask in Wuhan to battle Coronavirus,” China coronavirus: a look inside the sealed off city of Wuhan,” “CoronaVirus- People Are Collapsing In The Streets In China,” and “Wuhan jiāyóu': chants of solidarity spread across city at epicentre of coronavirus.”
Producer/host: Clay Baldo
Researcher: Shunyao Yang
Mastered by: Kaiser Kuo
Translation: Josh Ogden-Davis
Voice-over: Elizabeth Klebenow
Check out Josh’s podcast, MSG: Mandarin Slang Guide. Josh is a talented translator and charismatic host who teaches you the Chinese slang that you actually need to know. Get the MSG: Mandarin Slang Guide wherever you find your podcasts:
Mandarin Slang Guide on Apple Podcasts
Thanks to everyone who submitted reflections for this episode.
Chapter Seven: We all get schooled by Wenfei
Wenfei is an education consultant in Shanghai. After he attended high school and college in America, a trend that is on the rise for students from China, he is in a unique position to counsel students that are hoping to do the same. In this episode, he compares and contrasts the American and Chinese educational systems, dives into some of the murky social and cultural implications of making the leap from China to America as a teenager, and provides some insight on the pressure that Chinese teens face when transitioning from one system to another.
“Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality.” by Erica L. Green and Katie Benner; “College Admissions: Vulnerable, Exploitable, and to Many Americans, Broken,” by Anemona Hartocollis; “The Absurdity of College Admissions,” by Alia Wong; “Why So Many Chinese Students Come to America,” by PolyMatter; “China roots out its ‘gaokao migrants’ as university entrance exam nears,” by Laurie Chen; “China’s Unfair College Admissions System,” by Yiqin Fu; “Trade war: How reliant are US colleges on Chinese students,” by Reality Check team, BBC News; “The Real Reason Trump Wants to Ban Chinese College Students,” and by Christopher Rim.
“Analytical Skeletons,” “Hip hop instrumental,” by csus; “Road Trip,” “Fake Mustache,” by Purrple Cat; “f@y,” by jack meijer; “Hip Hop Instrumental 174 BPM,” “Hip Hop Instrumental 130 BPM,” “Hip Hop Instrumental 82 BPM,” by Terri Skillz; “IC3PEAK Type beat- Sick,” by svd b1tch; “I Like You.,” by ARTST_UNKWN2; “Lofee,” Xmpty; “MTL,” by JMC; and “Kronicle - Listen Up,” by Fox Beat 2.
Thanks to Nowness Shanghai for letting me use their recording studio.
Strangers in China: Bonus episode
Hear bonus material from some of the most insightful profiles we've done so far on Strangers in China. Enjoy!