Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Asian women in Africa: Mandarin edition

ALERT: This is a Mandarin-language episode! We have had a number of wonderful guests already, but we wanted to bring more voices from China to the discussion and talk with them in Mandarin. Hosts Winslow Robertson and Dr. Nkemjika Kalu had Hangwei Li, a researcher and media trainer from Mediane, Council of Europe (and also contributor to podcast sponsor The Africa Daily) interview two amazing guests. One is Ms. Yolanda Xiaoqing Yue, a tech entrepreneur and graduate of the Cambridge Judge Business School who used to work for Huawei in South Africa. Next is Ms. Yuan Wang, a Harvard graduate who is currently working for the Sino Africa Centre of Excellence Foundation in Kenya. We will have a translation up soon, but tell your Chinese friends to listen!


Translation (by Tendai Musakwa)

Li Hangwei: Good morning everyone. Thank you for listening to the Cowries & Rice Podcast. My name is Hangwei, and I am this episode's guest host. Regular listeners will know that we usually use English for our podcasts, but this will be our first Chinese podcast. Your regular host Winslow will still participate in the show, though. Let's have him greet everyone as usual: Hi Winslow! How are you?

Winslow: I'm quite well. The weather is really nice today, so I'm hoping to go outside when I finish this podcast.

Li Hangwei: Our regular co-host Dr. Kalu, who is a researcher of Africa-China relations, will also participate in today’s show. Dr. Kalu, greetings from London. How was your week?

Dr. Kalu: It was really good, thank you very much. How are you?

Li Hangwei: I'm fine, thanks. This is going to be our first Chinese episode. I hope hearing us speak Chinese won’t make you uncomfortable. But I have great news for you: we have amazing guests and I'm sure this will be an awesome episode!

Winslow: I agree!

Li Hangwei: OK! We are working hard to reach a wider global audience, so from now on our podcast will not only have English-language podcasts, but will also have Chinese- and French-language episodes.

First, a word of thanks to our sponsors AfricanDevelopment Jobs and the Africa Daily. African Development Jobs is a site that was founded by Nina Oduro that aims to help jobseekers find work in Africa. African Development Jobs is one of the best sites focusing on employment and development in Africa that I know.

The Africa Daily is an internet platform for the provision of English-language news and research-related information on Africa-China relations. Its Chinese-language version is 非洲365, which is a website dedicated to delivering the latest information on developments in African countries in an effort to increase Chinese readers’ interest in and understanding of Africa, assist in the development of Africa-China cooperation, promote visits to and exchanges with Africa as well as encourage export-oriented Chinese small- and medium-sized enterprises to invest in Africa.

International Women's Day was celebrated recently, so we felt that we should discuss women’s issues in this podcast. But please don’t get the wrong idea — this episode won’t be like some after-hours relationship advice show. Rather, today’s discussion will focus on Asian women in Africa. We also explored this topic on our last episode, which featured a number of Africa-China relations researchers as guests. Today, we have invited some young practitioners to share their views on the topic.

I have a feeling that today’s show — with four women’s voices — will be similar to traditional Chinese opera. Winslow will be left just listening to us perform.

Today’s guests have one thing in common: they are both goddesses of learning. How learned are they? One of them graduated from Harvard and the other graduated from Cambridge. They have also taken what many people may regard as an unusual path in life. After one of our guests Wang Yuan graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government she went to the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where she currently works as a researcher for the Sino-Africa Center for Excellence Foundation. She also researches China-Africa issues for the European Union, and started a new community-based public welfare NGO called China House. Our other guest Yue Xiaoqing also has a remarkable story: after graduating from college, she found a job and was immediately dispatched to South Africa. She unexpectedly resigned from that job after six years to go study for an MBA at Cambridge, even though the job paid well and offered good prospects for advancement. After obtaining her degree, she adamantly returned to South Africa.

Welcome to our show Wang Yuan and Yue Xiaoqing. Wang Yuan, why don’t you greet our listeners and introduce yourself.

Wang Yuan: Hello everyone. My name is Wang Yuan. Thank you Hangwei. I am currently in Kenya. Greetings to everyone from faraway. Everything here is alright, including the weather — it’s very warm.

Li Hangwei: It’s very warm? [Laughs.]

Wang Yuan: Yes, it’s like spring all year round. Let me briefly introduce myself; after graduating from college, I enrolled in a two-year [MPA] program at the Kennedy School of Government, after which I developed an interest in Africa. This interest led me to book a one-way ticket to Kenya after graduating from the program. After arriving here with my three suitcases, I spent the next seven to eight months looking for a job until I found work doing research on China-Africa relations. I’ve been doing that job ever since.

Li Hangwei: Awesome! Thank you Wang Yuan. Now, Xiaoqing, what have you been doing in South Africa? Which city are you in? Please give our listeners an overview of your recent experiences.

Yue Xiaoqing: Hello everyone. I currently live in Johannesburg, but I frequently travel to other cities on business. The company that hired me after I graduated from college assigned me to go work in South Africa. I resigned from that job in 2011, after which I went to Cambridge to study for an MBA degree, as Li Hangwei mentioned. I graduated from Cambridge last August and returned to South Africa, first working for a friend’s company, which was expanding from South Africa to other African countries. That friend couldn’t be in South Africa at that time, so I temporarily took over management of the company for them until the end of the year, gaining some experience in management and administration in the process.

I am currently starting my own company that will be geared towards helping South African companies purchase equipment from China. Together with some friends, I am also setting up an e-commerce site focusing on water treatment; as everyone knows, water resources and water usage are areas of concern in Africa. I’ve been making satisfactory progress on both of these two projects.

Li Hangwei: OK, I’m glad to hear that both of you are doing well, and that you have found practical applications for your studies. Both of your educational backgrounds are interesting, but I’d first like to ask Wang Yuan why she chose to go to Africa after graduating from Harvard. You graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government — which, I have to say, was my dream school — and I know you have strong capabilities that would have allowed you to find a good job in the US or in China. What made you go to Africa instead?

Wang Yuan: Actually, I have also been thinking about why I decided to come to Africa back then, and why I mindlessly decided to buy a one-way ticket to come here.

Li Hangwei: Do you regret it?

Wang Yuan: Not at all. It’s just that I can’t give you a clear-cut answer to that question. All I can say is that at that time I was young and didn’t have too many responsibilities, so I thought I should travel the world, visit all 54 countries in Africa and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro—

Li Hangwei: That makes me also want to go to Africa. [Laughs.]

Wang Yuan: —You should consider it. I was also thinking that I would only be able to spend time in this tranquil and non-materialistic kind of place while I was young and had just graduated from college. So I came here after graduation. I didn’t have any grand plan.

Li Hangwei: As many people have said, there are many things that you won’t have the courage to do when you're older if you don’t do them when you’re young. Although Xiaoqing and Wang Yuan both graduated from top schools, other aspects of their backgrounds are different. I have already mentioned that Xiaoqing went to South Africa immediately after graduating from college and stayed there for six years before resigning and going to pursue a postgraduate degree. Xiaoqing, why did you resign from your job? And why did you choose to return to South Africa after graduating from Cambridge?

Yue Xiaoqing: I resigned because I didn’t like my job and the way I was living. I had been living the life of a typical science and engineering student from a young age. My first job was in the information and communications technology industry, concentrating on technologies and solutions. I was basically living the life of your typical “IT nerd,” although some geographical and cultural aspects were different because I was in South Africa. I felt that I was living a dull, monotonous and restricted life.

I chose to do an MBA because the focus areas of such a course — including finance, accounting and management — were areas that I could not learn while holding a full-time job. I wanted to learn something new, and broaden my horizons. I chose to study at Cambridge because of its historical heritage and cultural atmosphere, but I never wanted to stay in the UK after graduation.

I liked South Africa and wanted to go back because of South African culture and the climate here. I think Johannesburg has the best climate of all the cities I have ever lived in; the sunshine here leaves you in a good mood everyday. In terms of culture, South Africa is a pluralistic society, perhaps because of its history of immigration and colonization. People here are very friendly and welcoming. On one hand, South Africa has that sort of orderliness that is brought about by colonization, but on the other hand it also has that African conviviality and passion. I don’t like the climate in the UK. Although people there are polite and considerate, they are also somewhat aloof. So it was only natural that I should come back to South Africa. I really didn’t have a choice.

Li Hangwei: So it’s like true love. Actually, I am also currently in London, and am having an experience similar to the one that you had. But I’m glad to hear that you enjoy living in the Rainbow Nation. I think both you and Wang Yuan have had very interesting experiences. I am curious to hear more about your educational experiences — Wang Yuan about your experience studying in the US and Xiaoqing about your experience studying for an MBA at Cambridge. How have these experiences influenced your current lives and jobs? Wang Yuan, why don’t you respond first?

Wang Yuan: I think the US is a very multicultural society and the Kennedy School of Government — which has students from more than 80 countries — also stresses the importance of pluralism. As a result, I learned how to interact with and form relationships with people from different backgrounds while I was there. I have used this skill here in Kenya, where I have befriended people from all walks of life including artists, people who live in slums and people who work for the World Bank. I think that these experiences have made my life more pluralistic. I also made a lot of friends at the Kennedy School that I am now in contact with here in Nairobi. We have our own alumni association and often go out together—

Li Hangwei: —Harvard has an alumni association in Kenya?

Wang Yuan: Yes. We regularly organize events and socialize. Besides friends from Harvard, I’ve also befriended people from all walks of life — I think this is very important.

Li Hangwei: You mean that you enjoy broadening your social circle by interacting with different people, right?

Wang Yuan: Right. To be honest, I have already forgotten most of the statistics, economics and other courses I learned while at Harvard. But the confidence, the ability to adapt and the ability to befriend different people that I learned while I was there are skills that are hard to come by, and I will always treasure them.

Li Hangwei: I also think that those are valuable skills to have. Xiaoqing, what influence did your experience studying at Cambridge have on your current work? You mentioned that you’re looking to start your own company. Your MBA studies at Cambridge must be very helpful with this, right?

Yue Xiaoqing: Yes. Before I went to the UK, I was somewhat disadvantaged by not having lived in a developed country for a substantial length of time. So I didn’t know whether or not I would enjoy living in Britain. Before I went to study for the MBA, I was leaning towards returning to South Africa after my studies, but the year that I spent in the UK confirmed to me what kind of life I wanted to live.

As I said before, I undertook the MBA program in order to improve my understanding in certain areas in which I lacked knowledge. So although studying for the program was very stressful, I enrolled in it anyway in order to improve my abilities. I mentioned before that my life before the MBA was very monotonous — it was difficult for me to find topics of discussion with other people. But now I’m as multifaceted as Tiger Balm, I know a little bit about everything—

Li Hangwei: —And I think you’re a brilliant conversationalist. You’re very eloquent.

Yue Xiaoqing: Yes, that might be because I now talk to a larger number of people than I did before.

Although my educational background is in the applied sciences, the MBA gave me the ability to quickly understand different fields. And now I am able to find topics of conversation with people from different industries that I interact with. So the MBA has definitely helped my career.

In addition to the classes on accounting, finance and management that I took as part of my MBA, I also took courses on entrepreneurship, including practice-based courses on how to start a business. This, together with the experience I had running my friend’s company after I returned from finishing my MBA, has given me a thorough understanding of how to organize and operate a business, including the risks involved in doing so.

I also think that the MBA gave me the ability to fuse together the different operating methods that Western and Eastern companies use. For example, Western companies have good institutionalization as a result of the West’s longer corporate management experience. If we combine this aspect of Western companies with Chinese firms’ flexibility and culture of persistence and industriousness, that would create an optimum corporate culture. So I think the MBA experience was hugely beneficial to me.

Li Hangwei: OK. Talking to you makes me think of the time I spent in Ghana. Back then, I also met people from different walks of life, and I think this was also very beneficial to me. But I cannot help but also think that when I was in Ghana, the relations between Ghanaians and Chinese were rather tense because of the Ghanian government’s crackdown on illegal gold mining. This affected my experience while I was living there. So I want to ask you two whether or not the relations between China and Kenya and China and South Africa have influenced your lives there. Wang Yuan, why don’t you respond first?

Wang Yuan: Relations between China and Kenya are quite good, but I haven’t noticed China-Kenya ties having much influence on my day-to-day life. The number of Chinese companies operating in Kenya has increased and there are more Chinese people working here. I haven’t really seen any tensions in China-Kenya relations, but it is becoming more and more difficult to get a work visa.

Li Hangwei: Do you know why?

Wang Yuan: It’s similar to the situation in the US where outsiders are seen as seizing all the job opportunities, so there naturally is a trend toward work visas becoming more difficult to obtain.

Li Hangwei: Xiaoqing, what is the situation there?

Yue Xiaoqing: It seems that the situation in South Africa is similar to the situation Wang Yuan described as happening in Kenya; I’ve heard that South Africa has stopped processing permanent residency applications by Chinese people. But this is a rumor that I haven’t confirmed.

In terms of China-South Africa ties, I don’t think that China’s relationship with South Africa has had any direct influence on me. At the same time, China and South Africa have had good relations from the time they first established diplomatic relations. Because South Africa is China’s biggest trading partner in Africa and is also part of BRICS, there are many interactions between the two countries and trade between them has been growing rapidly.

I personally have not had problems obtaining a visa because I work in the information and communications technology industry, and visa applications for professionals in this industry are processed under South Africa’s Exceptional Skills Work Permit program. I know that South Africa has somewhat lax requirements when processing visas for investors and highly skilled workers.

Li Hangwei: I recently read a column by Zhang Zhuoyan — one of Wang Yuan’s classmates who chose to go to South Africa after graduating from the Harvard Kennedy School — on the China-South Dialogue website. She is also based in Johannesburg, and in the column she said something that struck me: “Africa is not for cowards. You will not have anyone to depend on and will be lucky to find a companion. You have to be determined and resolute while also remaining kindhearted.” As I read this, I thought to myself that I should ask you both what the biggest problems you have faced while living and working in Africa have been. And how did you overcome them?

Wang Yuan: Should I speak first?

Li Hangwei: Xiaoqing can also speak first, whatever you prefer.

Wang Yuan: Xiaoqing, why don’t you go first?

Yue Xiaoqing: Actually, I don’t think I’ve faced any considerable difficulty. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t constantly look back at things that have happened and doesn’t consider my past experiences as terrible. I think if you tell yourself that you are not weak and you are not feeble, you will not consider bad things that happen to you as extremely difficult. There is, however, a certain time after I fell sick in Africa that I felt myself to be a little frail. That was after I got sick with malaria after not taking reasonable precautions while on a business trip—

Li Hangwei: —Were you traveling in West Africa?

Yue Xiaoqing: No, I had gone on a trip to Uganda. Unfortunately, one of my colleagues had malaria. As everyone knows, malaria is spread through mosquitos; when I went to visit the colleague, I was unfortunately bitten by mosquitoes and I got sick that way. I didn’t suffer much during the time that I was sick because many of my friends and co-workers were taking care of me. But malaria damages the body for a long time after you’re actually sick with it, so I was in poor health for a year after I had fallen ill with it; I always felt like sleeping and was always in low spirits. I had to put off many of my plans. For example, I had planned to start the MBA in 2009 but it was only until 2011 that I felt well enough to do so. So, now I pay more attention to getting enough exercise and otherwise ensuring that I am healthy. After all, the body is the capital needed for revolution.

Li Hangwei: Yes, this counts as deriving some good out of misfortune.

Yue Xiaoqing: Yes. I think this was the only incident when I faced unforeseen difficulty while in Africa.

Li Hangwei: Actually, I think people face all kinds of difficulty whether they are in China or abroad in Asia, Africa, Europe or other places. If you’re determined enough, you can persevere through difficulty. Wang Yuan, have you faced any hardship that you found difficult to overcome?

Wang Yuan: I have: when I first arrived I was very lonely because I didn’t have any friends. Back when I was in Cambridge — the city where Harvard is located, near Boston — I had a nice group of friends that included Zhuoyan and some other people. I became used to the kind of life that we had there — we would call each other after class and set aside time to go out together in the evenings. Because of this, I found it very difficult after I came here and couldn’t call up my friends or contact them on WeChat liked I used to because of time differences.

Li Hangwei: Is that why you and Huang Hongxiang set up China-South Dialogue?

Wang Yuan: Yes, I wanted to make some friends. [Laughs.]

Li Hangwei: Huang Hongxiang calls it “a human trafficking project.”

Wang Yuan: [Laughs.] His vocabulary is a bit gauche.

Li Hangwei: So you’re hoping more talented young Chinese people will join in, right?

Wang Yuan: I wouldn’t say we’re looking for talented people. We’re looking for people from all walks of life to come and interact with each other. Everyone can contribute something.

Today, we set up a small society for young people in Nairobi to interact with each other. This has made me very happy — it’s much better than what we had before.

Li Hangwei: Great. I wish you all the best. Perhaps there’ll come a time when I can visit you there.

Wang Yuan: Please do.

Li Hangwei: OK. I also want to ask you when you are happiest and the most satisfied in your everyday lives.

Wang Yuan:  I am happiest when, for example, I’m sitting at home after taking half the day off and receive an unexpected business offer. Also, when good friends visit — I always feel great when that happens. I also like the feeling I have when I have sorted out some aspect of my life. I think it’s those moments in life that make you happy. I like that quote by Hemingway “The world is a fucked up place, but it’s worth fighting for” (sic). I like to change that quote to say that the world is fucked up, but life is still worth living for. Those moments of happiness are worth living for.

Li Hangwei: This just made me think about when I was in Africa. During that time, I was very happy — I was easily satisfied and was often in a good mood. Xiaoqing, are you having a similar experience?

Yue Xiaoqing: Yes. I really like South Africa. I like it because there are many outdoor activities like hiking. Recently, we went on a waterfall zip-line tour where we slid across a waterfall and saw a long rainbow that formed over the water. It was very beautiful. Whenever I am on a business trip, I always make sure that I drive out to see the scenery or go hiking on the weekends. This is very interesting for me.

Also, in my current job, I meet all sorts of people from different industries who tell me many novel things. All of this makes me very happy.

In my future endeavors, I aim to help people change their lives by raising their quality and standard of living — like Wang Yuan’s group and other non-governmental organizations are doing. Being able to do this would be a confirmation of the values I hold dear and would make me very happy. But there is still some uncertainty as to whether I will be able to do this. Let me end there for now.

Li Hangwei: I think people might have this stereotypical idea that living and working in Africa is grueling, dreary and contemptible, but I don’t think that that is the case.

I also wanted to share something that my flatmate said to me yesterday evening. We were in the kitchen and my flatmate, who is not from China, asked me whether or not I was older than 25. When I replied that I was, she told me that she had just read an article about China’s “leftover women” that said that Chinese people considered women who were older than 25 and not married to be “leftover women.” My flatmate then sighed and said, “So you’re one of those ‘leftover women’ that Chinese people talk about.”

I have always been against labeling people, but that conversation with my roommate made me think of how one of the major challenges that a Chinese woman of marrying age who wants to pursue a career in Africa might face is how to persuade her parents of her decision. Perhaps our guests can share their experiences on this topic? Were you able to convince your parents that coming to Africa was a good decision? Wang Yuan, why don’t you respond first?

Wang Yuan: I think that I still have to wait three or four more years before I am at the proper age for marriage; I think I am still very young and this is what I tell my parents. Of course I’m no longer that young, but I tell myself that I am still young. [Laughter.]

Of course my parents want me to find a stable job in China and find a husband from a respectable family, but what they care about most is my happiness. They understand me and think that maybe I am happier if I am by myself outside the country doing the things that I want to do. So, I haven’t had much resistance from my parents to my living in Africa.

Li Hangwei: I think you are lucky for having such open-minded parents. After I told my father that I wanted to go to Ghana for a few months, he said that if he had known that I wanted to go to Africa, he would not have paid for my studies in Europe and would not have allowed me to leave the country. I had to spend a lot of time to bring my parents around to see things my way.

As I just said, I think a lot of people within China have a stereotypical image of Africa as disease- and famine-ridden. So I think many parents would be worried if their child were to go to Africa. They would especially be concerned about issues of marriage if their child fell under this “leftover woman” label, perhaps thinking that finding a respectable boyfriend in Africa would be hard for her.

Wang Yuan and I have spent far less time Africa than Xiaoqing has, so Xiaoqing can you tell us whether or not you were able to persuade your parents that coming to Africa was a good decision? And do your parents pressure you in terms of marriage?

Yue Xiaoqing: My situation is a bit different because I didn’t insist on coming to South Africa after graduation. What happened was that the job that I applied for after finishing college was one in which employees were dispatched abroad, and the first choice for a potential posting that I got was to go to South Africa. I agreed to come to South Africa because I thought that South Africa wasn’t the typical “Africa” that people have in mind when they think of the continent. So when I was preparing to come, I reasoned with my parents in this way and told them that I wouldn’t go to other African countries.

I did later apply to work in other African countries, however. My supervisor at that time was concerned about the safety of women employees so I didn’t need to go these other countries, but I took the initiative to apply to go there anyway because I thought it would be interesting.

I didn’t tell my parents about this, though. I also didn’t tell them about the time I got sick with malaria, which I mentioned earlier. I also haven’t told them about the time when I was robbed in China. I don’t want to worry them.

As for marriage, I think things with my family are now much better than they were before. My parents are definitely concerned but they no longer nag me about it. In the past, whenever I had a birthday, my mother would always say, “I wish you an early marriage” or something like that. This year, however, she sent me a message wishing me success in my career. I think my parents have given up on urging me to get married. [Laughter.]

Li Hangwei: That’s a big change. [Laughter.]

Yue Xiaoqing: I think my mother is still rather open-minded, though. She has always said that since marriage is a lifelong commitment, the most important thing is that I find the right person. So she doesn’t put a lot of pressure on me.

Li Hangwei: I think this issue of “leftover women” is interesting, but it also engenders a feeling of helplessness. The phrase itself has a Made In China aspect to it, and shows how there are still significant differences between Chinese and Western values. For example, the women that I have met in the UK — even if single at 40 — don’t feel as though they have been “left over.” The people around them respect them and give them space and freedom. They consider being single as an individual lifestyle choice. What do you think about this?

Wang Yuan: Xiaoqing, why don’t you speak first?

Yue Xiaoqing:  OK. I think there’s some awkwardness whenever I meet some Chinese friends or clients, as they think that I shouldn’t be single at my age and should be married and have children. My interactions with South Africans, on the other hand, are more interesting. Most of them won’t ask you whether or not you are married but they’ll ask whether or nor you have children, perhaps because many people here have children but are not necessarily married. That sort of situation would be inconceivable to many Chinese people.

Many of my Chinese friends are women who have chosen not to get married. I don’t think there’s any problem with this life choice. Perhaps because of this, I don’t really pay attention to what other people say about my marital status.

Li Hangwei: Wang Yuan, what about you?

Wang Yuan: I don’t think that I have faced this problem. I haven’t been called a “leftover woman” because I am still young. [Laughter.] Of course, maybe I’ll face this problem in the future, but I’ll deal with it if and when it happens. I think that if a person has chosen how to live and what makes them happy, then other people should respect that choice. The choices that people make are their own and no one should pressure anyone else.

Li Hangwei: Yes, I agree with Wang Yuan. I’ve also been noticing that in this age of globalization an increasing number of young Chinese are choosing to leave China to seek opportunities abroad. And they don’t only go to developed countries — many of my friends are interested in going to Africa. Of course, this is only my personal observation.

At the national level, China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for the past four years. Also, I recently read a report by Deloitte that said that Chinese construction companies are now undertaking about one-third of the infrastructure projects European and American contractors are building in Africa, so there’s a lot of potential in this area.

I think that many Chinese people will choose to go to Africa in the future. What advice do you have for young Chinese women who want to go to Africa?

Wang Yuan: I encourage women to come. I’ve interviewed many Chinese companies operating here and when I ask them how many women employees they have, they all respond saying that around 10 of their workers are women — even if they have a workforce of several hundred or several thousand people. There are very few Chinese women here, so regardless of whether you want to come to develop your career or get married [laughter], I encourage you to come.

Li Hangwei: To balance the corporate sex ratio?

Wang Yuan: Yes. I don’t think they’ll face any significant difficulties here, as long as they’re careful about their safety.

Li Hangwei: Xiaoqing, do you have any advice for Chinese women that want to go to Africa?

Yue Xiaoqing: I think that besides what Wang Yuan said, working here as a woman is no different from what men experience. Also, coming to Africa is no different from going to any other country — as soon as you decide that you will leave home and leave those you care about, you will have to exercise independence and endure a lot of pressure, especially mental and emotional pressure.

Also, I think that Africa is more suited to young people who are willing to take risks because while more developed regions are better organized in many respects and have better material standards of living, the regulatory red tape in those countries is also more restricting. So although Chinese students who are studying abroad can get better-paying, more stable jobs if they choose to go to developed countries, they will have more space to fully realize themselves and reach their potential in developing countries such as African countries.

So I think strong minded, independent women should consider coming to Africa. Regardless of whether or not you eventually decide to stay, I’m convinced that your experience here will be an unforgettable one.

Wang Yuan: I agree.

Li Hangwei: Regrettably, we’ve reached the end of the program. As usual, we’ll recommend some books, websites and movies related to the discussion to our listeners. I think both of you might be feminists and agree that gender bias impedes women’s success across the world. So my recommendation is Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. This book is currently very popular. In the book, Sandberg encourages women worldwide to believe in themselves, to not let anyone else define who they are and to courageously pursue their goals. I think this book fits in with our discussion.

Winslow, are you there?

Winslow: I’m still here, yes.

Li Hangwei: Yes, you’re still alive. What is your recommendation for our listeners this episode?

Winslow: So, I have a recommendation — I feel a little bad about this because I’m breaking my rule for this. Generally for my recommendations I like to suggest something that I’ve actually read, but now I’m going to recommend something that I haven’t read all the way through — check it out.

These dudes from the RAND Corporation wrote this China-Africa report called Chinese Engagement in Africa: Drivers, Reactionsand Implications for US Policy. It’s by Larry Hanauer and Lyle Morris. The reason that I’m recommending this is because I know Lyle personally and he asked me to share this new report. I think it came out last week or two weeks ago. He’s actually a really cool guy and he’s going to bring signed copies of the report, which I’m going to read after this podcast. It’s 173 pages. He’s going to bring autographed copies of this report to this China-Africa Happy Hour that I’m doing on Friday. I have not read the report, but a friend of the pod Ambassador David Shinn consulted on it and he personally told me that it’s a really good report. So I’m recommending it and I’m reading it tonight.

Li Hangwei: Thank you so much Winslow. That’s really interesting and I will definitely check it out. How about Dr. Kalu. Dr. Kalu, how are you?

Dr. Kalu: I’m good, thank you.

Li Hangwei: So what’s your recommendation?

Dr. Kalu: So following in the example set by Winslow, I’m actually recommending something that I have not read — but I have a valid reason for not reading it. It’s actually in Chinese and I don’t read Chinese. It’s an article by Professor Li Anshan about the evolution of the discourse of China-Africa since the 1990s. So it’s just a look at the literature that’s come out on China-Africa relations over the past 24 years. The article itself is in Chinese, and I thought that since we’re doing a podcast in Chinese, it would be a good recommendation just carrying along that theme.

Li Hangwei: I think that must be great because I know Professor Li Anshan and he’s definitely one of the best professors in China-Africa relations.

Now, what about our two other guests — the legendary goddesses of learning — what would you like to recommend to everyone? Xiaoqing, why don’t you go first?

Yue Xiaoqing: First, I haven’t had much time to read books recently, but I do read short articles on the internet. I think many listeners would have read the article I would like to recommend, which has been widely circulated on the internet and is titled What is the value of academicsuccess?. I remember that an MIT graduate wrote it. The article talks about how Chinese students often find it easy to succeed in their academic studies, but don’t have a strong sense of happiness and accomplishment in their lives or at work. I think this article is insightful, and it resonates with me.

Now, I have to say, my lifestyle focuses on doing what I like, and not being a god of learning. I am not a god of learning.

Li Hangwei:  Yes, perhaps I have stereotypical ideas that all those who’ve studied at Harvard and Cambridge are gods of learning.

Wang Yuan: “God of learning” is a terrible phrase, please don’t use it again. [Laughter.]

Li Hangwei: OK, I was wrong. I thought it was a compliment because it means that you are very hardworking and very talented —Wang Yuan, did you want to say something?

Wang Yuan: Why don’t you finish first? It’s not important.

Li Hangwei: I want to hear your thoughts about “god of learning.” Why shouldn’t that phrase be used?

Wang Yuan: Because I’m not exceptionally gifted in terms of academics. And I think everyone has his or her own merits. I like being called a goddess [laughter] — everyone likes a goddess. But calling someone a “god of learning” creates a certain distance, so please don’t use it.

Li Hangwei: I think you are modest. Someone who can get into Harvard is obviously academically talented. Of course contributions to society, work experience and practical ability are important, but if you lacked academic achievement you wouldn’t have gotten in.

Wang Yuan: OK, you can continue talking like this if you want.

Li Hangwei: OK. Your recommendations?

Wang Yuan: I want to recommend a book called West with the Night. This is actually a book that a friend recommended to me. I think it’s an excellent book. It was written by Beryl Markham, an English woman. She writes about the time she spent in Kenya with her father in the 1920s and 1930s. She left Britain for Kenya with her father when she was very young. In Kenya, she trained in horse racing and learned how to fly a plane. She was a very independent woman. In the book she describes spending her childhood in Africa, including the activities she undertook while there, including hunting, horse-racing and interacting and befriending the natives. The book also contains many of her unique thoughts on many issues. I found that I really liked reading it.

Li Hangwei: Thank you both for your recommendations.

Listeners, if you have any opinions or suggestions for our show, we welcome you to tweet our hosts Winslow and Dr. Kalu; Winslow’s Twitter handle is @Winslow_R, and Dr. Kalu’s Twitter handle is @NkemEKalu.

If you want to hear more from Xiaoqing and Wang Yuan, you can search for Xiaoqing’s Sina Weibo account using her China cellphone number 135-0960-7227. We also encourage listeners to follow Wang Yuan on her Sina Weibo account wangyuannie, where they can ask her about China House’s initiatives to encourage relocation to Africa.

Now, at the end of today’s program, I’d like to thank Wang Yuan and Xiaoqing for participating in our program. I know that living in Africa as a woman means facing many hurdles, so we are grateful that Wang Yuan and Xiaoqing were candid and direct in discussing their experiences in Africa. I think true freedom comes from emotional courage, and I hope Wang Yuan and Xiaoqing will continue to be courageous in this way.

Dear listeners, we’ll meet again next time.


李杭蔚:大家早上好,欢迎各位收听Cowries and Rice播客,我是这一期节目的嘉宾主持杭蔚。常收听我们节目的听众朋友大概会知道,我们之前的节目都是英文节目,今天的节目是我们第一期中文节目,大家不用担心你们的主持人Winslow。先让他照常从美国华盛顿跟大家打个招呼吧。Hi Winslow! How are you?

Winslow I'm quite well. The weather is really nice today, so I'm hoping to finish this podcast and go outside.

李杭蔚:今天的老朋友Kalu博士博士也会如常作客我们的节目。Kalu博士一直以来都致力于中非研究。Dr. Kalu, greetings from London. How was your week?

Dr. Kalu It was really good, thank you very much. How are you?

李杭蔚I'm fine, thanks. This is going to be our first Chinese episode. I hope you won't feel uncomfortable hearing us speak Chinese all the time. But I have great news for you: we have amazing guests this time and I'm sure this will be an awesome episode!

WinslowI agree!

李杭蔚:OK, 我们的节目目前正在努力扩大全球范围内的听众群,所以今后我们的节目语言就不再局限于英文,还将有中文和法语。

首先感谢我们的赞助商African Development Jobs以及Africa Daily African Development Jobs是一个由Nina Oduro创办的网站,旨在帮助求职者寻找在非洲的工作机会,这也是我所知道的在有关非洲就业和发展这个领域当中最好的网站之一。

The Africa Daily是一个提供关于中非新闻和学术资讯的英文信息平台,它的中文版是非洲365,该网站致力于传递现有关于非洲国家最新动态的信息,加深中文读者对于非洲的了解和兴趣,希望能辅佐中非合作的发展大方向,鼓励大众对非洲进一步交流往来,以及推动更多中小外向型发展企业在非投资。


那今天,我请到的两位嘉宾有一个共同点--她们都是学霸女神。她们到底有多学霸呢?她们呢一个是从哈佛大学毕业,另外一个呢是剑桥毕业。其实在很多人眼里她们都是不走寻常路的女生:我们的嘉宾王媛从哈佛大学肯尼迪学院毕业后去了肯尼亚的内罗毕,目前就职于中非卓越基金,同时还是欧盟中非研究项目的研究员,并且还发起了一个社区型NGO和公益组织叫做China House (中南屋)。另外一个嘉宾岳晓庆呢,也非常的不简单,大学毕业以后就被公司派到南非,一去就是6年。6年之后,当她在公司有着很不错的发展空间和薪资时,她突然辞职了,去了英国的剑桥大学攻读工商管理硕士,MBA念完之后,她又毅然决然地回到了南非。








李杭蔚:好的,很高兴知道你们一切安好,知道你们都是学以致用。王媛跟晓庆的背景都是非常有意思。首先我有一个问题想要问王媛,你是从哈佛肯尼迪学院毕业,其实是我的dream school,我知道你的能力也非常强,所以我很肯定不管是在美国还是回国你都能够找到很好的工作。你能告诉我们为什么毕业后选择去非洲呢?非洲对于你来说到底有着怎样独特的魅力?





王媛:你看, 来吧。如果说需要在我人生中有一段时间能够长久地在这样一个没有完全被物质所侵袭的一个世界这样平静的地方度过一段比较长的时候呢,那可能就是刚毕业这段年轻的时候,所以我就跑过来了,没有什么特别大的、特别多的想法。






王媛:在美国读书怎么说呢,我觉得美国本来就是一个非常多元化的社会,肯尼迪学院有来自80多个国家的学生,他自己也是一个非常注重多元化的小社区。在那边,我学会跟很多人打交道,交各种各样的朋友。 然后现在像我在肯尼亚,从贫民窟到现在平时一起交往的世行,朋友到处都有。三教九流,各方面,艺术家都有。我觉得这给我的人生是很大的一种多元化。还有,在肯尼迪学院认识了很多朋友,来到内罗毕之后很多时候都可以跟他们联系,我们也有自己的校友会可以一起出去玩。









































王媛:比较快乐的,就是我找了半天工作,一直在家里蹲着,好不容易一份offer来的时候,那个快乐是非常快乐的。还有,比如说好朋友一起过来看我,都会觉得很好。把自己的非常messed up life sort out这种感觉也很好。都是很小的瞬间吧,生活就是这样。我非常喜欢海明威那句话"The world is a fucked up place, but it’s worth fighting for" 我总是把它改成:这是一个非常糟糕、非常操蛋的世界,但是我觉得是非常值得去生活的worth living for。能够值得我去生活的就是生活中特别小的那些一点点的瞬间吧,就这样。


 岳晓庆:没错啊,其实南非比较好,我比较喜欢南非的一点是这边户外活动的范围特别多, 有很多的活动,比如说你可以去爬山、郊游,前端时间我们去"Cape Sliding",这边特别好,你从瀑布上滑过去,你可以看到那个水面上有一条很长的彩虹,特别漂亮。像我们出差的时候,周末我都会开车出去看看自然风景,爬爬山,我觉得这些是非常有意思的。



































李杭蔚:其实你们两个或多或少都是女性主义者。我觉得在这个世界上性别的偏见是阻碍很多女性取得成功的因素。而且这种现象可以说是遍布全球的。不知不觉到了我们节目的尾声,还是老样子,我们会向我们的听众朋友们推荐一些相关的书籍、网站和电影,今天我想向各位推荐Facebook首席运营官,叫做谢丽尔桑德伯格写的一本书,叫作《向前一步》,这本书现在很火,她是鼓励全球的女性勇敢地追求自己的目标,告诉大家不管在世界任何地方,作为女性都要自信,都不需要让别人去定义自己,我也觉得这很贴切我们的主题。我也想问一下我们的Winslow: Winslow are you there?

Winslow: I am still here, yes.

Li Hangwei: Yes, you’re still alive. What is your recommendation for our listeners this episode?

Winslow: So, I have a recommendation — I feel a little bad about this because I’m breaking my rule for this. Generally for my recommendations I like to recommend something that I’ve actually read, but now I’m going to recommend something that I haven’t read all the way through — check it out. These dudes from the RAND Corporation wrote this China-Africa report called Chinese Engagement in Africa: Drivers, Reactions and Implications for US Policy. It’s by Larry Hanauer and Lyle Morris. The reason that I’m recommending this is because I know Lyle personally and he asked me to share this new report. I think it came out last week or two weeks ago. He’s actually a really cool guy and he’s going to bring signed copies of the report, which I’m going to read after this podcast. It’s 173 pages. He’s going to bring autographed copies of this report to this China-Africa Happy Hour that I’m doing on Friday. I have not read the report, but a friend of the pod Ambassador David Shinn consulted on it and he personally told me that it’s a really good report. So I’m recommending it and I’m reading it tonight.

Li Hangwei: Thank you so much Winslow. That’s really interesting and I will definitely check it out. How about Dr. Kalu. Dr. Kalu, how are you?

Dr. Kalu: I’m good, thank you.

Li Hangwei: So what’s your recommendation?

Dr. Kalu: So following in the example set by Winslow, I’m actually recommending something that I have not read — but I have a valid reason for not reading it. It’s actually in Chinese and I don’t read Chinese. It’s an article by Professor Li Anshan about the evolution of the discourse of China-Africa since the 1990s. So it’s just a look at the literature that’s come out on China-Africa relations over the past 24 years. The article itself is in Chinese, and I thought that since we’re doing a podcast in Chinese, it would be a good recommendation just carrying along that theme.

Li Hangwei: I think that must be great because I know Professor Li Anshan and he’s definitely one of the best professors in China-Africa relations.












王媛:我推荐一本书叫《夜航西飞》,这个其实是我朋友推荐给我的,我觉得非常好,就是Beryl Markham写的,一个英国的女士。写的是20世纪二三十年代的肯尼亚,她当时很小就跟着父亲来到了肯尼亚,她肯尼亚训练赛马和学习驾驶飞机,她是一个非常非常独立的女性,她在书中就描写她在非洲渡过的童年,他狩猎啊,与当地土著人额交往啊、情谊啊,训练赛马什么的。里面有很多她自己的思考,我看过之后我觉得是我非常喜欢的一本书。

李杭蔚:好的,非常感谢各位的推荐。各位听众朋友们如果对我们的节目有什么意见或者建议,也欢迎Twitter@我们的主持人WinslowKalu博士。那WinslowTwitter账号呢是Winslow下划线再加一个大写的R。我再重复一遍:Winslow下划线再加一个大写的R Dr. Kalu他的Twitter账号是nkemekalu, nkemekalu

那想继续关注王媛和晓庆的朋友可以在新浪微博上搜索晓庆的国内手机号13509607227来关注她。也欢迎@王媛的微博帐号wangyuannie咨询她关于中南屋非洲人才引进计划。我再重复一遍王媛的微博账号是wangyuannie, 就是王媛的全拼再加上nie.



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