Happy Chinese New Year!

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Happy New Year of Monkey in 2016, by Ken SJ

We rely on food every day. The notion of “Food is the first thing for people,” is the most significant and essential idea in Chinese civilization life. According to the lunar calendar of 2016, we are celebrating the Year of the Monkey today.

We are delighted to join our families and friends both old and new, on the evening for the celebration of discarding old and brining in new, and celebrating coming of new things. It’s a great time and probably the only time to families for reuniting together and eating feast. Hence, you can know why the biggest human migration on earth called “Chunyun” or “spring rush” happens each year in China. Perhaps most Americans cannot image the scene how 2.9 billion trips are made in 40-day period between provinces and cities, but it happens in my country. Anyway, family means home. It’s time to come home.

However, I hasn’t come home for the celebration since 5 years ago, and the worst is that the enthusiasm, feelings and memory about the reunion with family has gradually gone from my body. Only one thing, a clear memory, is my grandmother’s cooking. In my childhood and adolescence, the only thing I expected in every Eve is her cooking, and she always cooked a full table of delicious dishes to welcome us. Now, she has passed away couple years. I miss her cooking and of course I miss my whole family very much. Hence I tried many times to cook alone or with friends in the U.S., but the memory, taste and feelings cannot be duplicated, totally and forever.

This is a video named “Chopsticks” in translation produced by CCTV, is a public service advertising that shows how food and dishes play their important role to getting Chinese families’ relationship closer.

The New Year’s Eve dinner, also called “Happiness of the Reunion,” is considered as the important family banquet. Before the midnight, we need to make dumplings with different fillings, such as chive with eggs and pork with cabbage, we eat dumplings at the midnight in the New Year’s Eve, and it symbolizes start of the Spring Festival. When look at dumplings, you will find the shape of the dumpling looks like gold ingot from ancient China, which is another implied meaning – brining in wealth and treasure.

For the southerners, instead of making and eating dumplings, they would love to have Nian Gao in the Eve. Its implied meaning is to wish every family member and friend’s life to be better than the last year.

Our enthusiasm on cooking Chinese New Year Eve food is just same as yours on watching the Super Bowl right now. I’m glad that it happens in the same time, so I probably can invite my American friends to watch the Super Bowl together and, enjoy the feast tonight!

Lego, Beyond the Toy

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Lego US Navy SEALS, by Brick Police.

During my childhood in Beijing, China, I expected my birthday each year, because my mother could buy a Lego toy for me only at that time. Once I got the toy, without hesitation, I flaunt in the class and enjoyed my friends’ envy even before assembling pieces. Why? Lego is so expensive due to the complex retailing structure, so not most families are willing to up the ante buying a toy for their child.

Thus, Lego is most Chinese children’s dream.

To continue the dream and through the development of my knowledge, I also would like to work for the world’s most powerful brand no matter in China or in the U.S. if I have any chance.

The brand was only a “Toy Factory” to me when I was a child. Now, I know that Lego is a corporation reforming the definition of the word “innovation.” Beyond the toy, creation is always its core value. For example, not only does it provide bricks for kids and adults but it creates “platform” called “intelligent brick” that a Lego robot being able to do customized programming. Lego has opened its development ideas, which let consumers make their decisions whether following the blueprint to assemble or customizing their own toys. Of course, you also can find Lego films and video games associated with Marvel, Star wars, Harry Porter, and so forth. Lego seeks for diversity. Now, we can say Lego has established its own empire.

In addition, indeed, creation is not only to develop technology itself but also based on people. Lego also shows its humanitarianism. As we knows, Lego’s figures are various, from Harry Porter to the War of Warcraft, from policemen to nurses, and from fiction to reality. Recently, to respond a query and requirement toward the disabled, Lego announced that it will push out a wheelchair figure. It obsoletely causes positive effect to public.  Also, it reminds me that Lego has ended its partnership with Shell for Greenpeace, and created a video that made me cry.

In some business books, we always can see great example of successful companies that possess dauntless and original regulations. Because creation brings success to the companies, we always praise those supervisor modes and management styles. For example, Google engineers can put their 20 percent working time to any project; W.L. Gore Associates, Inc. creates a non-hierarchical environment without a title or a boss, and Semco also executes the management mode that employees can totally manage themselves. However, Lego, doesn’t give employees 20 percent time for any project; employees have their titles and hierarchy, and closed the strategy about releasing originality. On the contrast, it establishes a clear framework in the company, and guides every type of creative actions. Therefore, from improving current products to exploiting future markets, Lego always has its relative frame as guideline.

Creation. Humanity. Sharp-sighted management mode. Fun. Is there any reason to not work for this company?

Diversity, is another important aspect. Except Lego, there are many companies and organizations paying attention to diversity. For example, Samsung involves in various realms in about 70 countries such as electronic, financial, machinery, chemical and even military industry. Recently, there is some talk that Apple is building a car. Google is not only a search engine anymore, but it is changing our life style like Google Earth, Google Map, and it created a project for contact lens. Thus, we have a reason to believe that diversity has become a new trend for major companies.

In order to navigate the new terrain, communication is a key. For those major companies, to make a new project they must rely on all types of communication such as internal, external, formal and interpersonal between their stakeholders, consumers, and employees. Lego has already achieved its benefit from communicating with children and their parents. They know that Children want to play more and more new toys and they also want to challenges. Their parents always want the company to provide a safe and engaging toys and toys for their children. Therefore, communication is like a comprehensive and evolving approach to understand different level consumers and inspires companies to think about creation.

Chipotle – Snack Well, Healthy Fast Food, And Some Troubles

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Photo produced by John Nunemaker

When we mention the U.S. cultural transmission around the world, two aspects will be involved – Hollywood film industry and American fast food. Hollywood films transmit a visual sensation; at the same time, they also intangibly import American values inside of the movies. In my mind, most of Hollywood films contain political and cultural purpose to the world. Compared with the film industry, American fast food is relatively simple, because it merely affects the world through gustation. However, in recent years, there are some denouncements such as high calories and uneven nutrition.

Today, I want to talk about Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., a low-calories Mexican fast food brand. Chipotle means a type of Mexican dried chili, which is also the logo image. Mexican love chilies, so the image of brand is an obvious symbolization of the culture. In 1993, Steve Ells founded the first restaurant in Denver, Colo. Like other Mexican restaurants, it mainly serves Mexican food such as Tacos and Burrito, but the promotion point is high-quality raw ingredients including beef, chicken, pork, rice, beans, and vegetables. Thus, customers deem Chipotle as a healthier fast food brand than other competitive corporations like McDonald’s. With the development tendency, the ibrand is loved by vegetarian and people who advocate healthy diets. Another superiority is low prices. Lower prices equal to attracting more customers because it catches millennials who possess a huge consuming ability. For examples, there is a new Chipotle opening at the central of University of Oregon at which I am studying. I pass by there every day and always can see more than 10 students lining up at the time. Hence, I believe that it happens all the time at all of universities in the U.S.

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Chipotle believes in the brand power. If Abercrombie & Fit sells its character and Hearley-Davidson sells its rebellion, Chipotle sells its idealism. The corporation has established a special lifestyle that appeals consumers about a consumption concept of sustainable development. Moreover, based on its unique marketing philosophy, Chipotle doesn’t invest much capital on traditional media for advertising. Instead, its marketing methods are spending much money on creating festivity, brewing beer, rising star chiefs and donating food. According to its Twitter account, of its published tweets usually are very short, and most of them are about guacamole which is another representative of Mexican food. Also, the tweets touch audiences in humorous way. Therefore, it depends on the value of word of mouth to expand the brand.

If you think Chipotle only serves healthy food, you probably forget its essence – fast food. Corresponding to healthy menu, it also has an “unhealthy” menu. After all, Chipotle still is a fast food chain enterprise. You can find its “junk food” that is roughly an equal amount of healthy food. This strategy gives consumers a guilty but pleasant feeling, because they can customize their combos through their moods and preferences.

However, recently, the corporation has to face two major problems – food safety and a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. It responded and made measures to food safety through its official Twitter account and released a press. Because of the investment on the food safety and other relevant measures, its profit margin will be lower than expected. On the other hand, Chipotle is silent to the sex discrimination issue so far. Discrimination is always a serious problem to any corporation at any realm. You know that Denny’s paid a terrible price for saving its reputation from its race bias suits in 1994. Therefore, I believe that nobody wants to see that history repeats itself except Chipotle’s competitors.

Huge Difference? Huge Opportunity!

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Nangua Baozi. Photo produced by J B.

There is an old Chinese saying that “food is the paramount necessity of the people.” As a result, Chinese always focus on the aroma and surface of dishes. Compared with it, Western emphysize on the balanced collocation and essence. It is the food cultural difference. Indeed, in my mind, it is also a great opportunity for a cultural exchange and expansive market.

I remember when my Chinese friend lived in a family stay, she cooked a pretty simple Chinese dish called “scrambled egg with tomatoes” (Okay, I’m lying because the dish doesn’t have an English name) for the American family, and then the family said “we have eggs, and we have tomatoes, but we never thought put them together into a pan. It actually is – delicious.” See? The diversity crossing cultures and food sometimes is another way to communicate.

I’m always curious why McDonald’s is very popular in Asian countires and actually the food taste no much different from Western. However, the most popular Chinese restuarant in the American market, Panda Express, probably is not authentic Chinese food. Indeed, as a Chinese, I have neither heard nor eaten orange chicken before I came to the U.S. However, compared with Chinese food, Japanese food still remains its original and traditional taste (and higher price) in different countries around the world. The different situation on food and restaurants between those two Asian countries in the U.S. market is about their diverse history, ingredients, cultures and cooking techniques, but it is beyond them.

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Photo produced by Luke Norris

Food is a way to satisfy our hunger. We also call it as a kind of art. Most Americans do not care about the “authenticity” of what foreign dishes they’re eating, but I believe everyone loves delicacy. I have tried many “weird” dishes like an Italian dish called squid ink risotto which the rice is totally black, and I know I love them. If you do believe there are a lot delicious and amazing dishes being able to bring “happiness” to you, next time please try another type of menu in any Chinese food restaurant opened by native Chinese.

 

A Game Or A World?

    

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Minecraft Pirate Ship. Photo produced by Jimmy.

Minecraft, a sandbox game, definitely is one of the most successful games in recent years and there is only one rule in the 3-D space – build your world with pixel! Aces even play a lot further in their worlds such as rebuilding a high school, U-boat, or video-calling phone through the virtual world. In only 5 years, the game has broken more than 10 the Guinness World Records such as being the “country modelled at full scale in a videogame.” In other words, it’s not only a game anymore, but also a medium actualizing people’s imagination and creating an interactive community.

When my friend and I went to 2015 O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) , in Portland, we were both attracted by the Microsoft exhibition because of the most important aspect of the game – open source. Because everyone can access and edit the codes, it provides a broader platform to exchange information crossing different systems and geographical restriction, and effectively lower the cost. Through my eyes, a lot of programmers enjoyed to write programs in the convention and I believe there are thousands of programmers who are developing and perfecting the program of the game around the world. Thus, instead of playing the game, they are participating the game.

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My friend Fan Yang and I in OSCON in 2015. Photo produced by Julian Cash.

In 2015, Microsoft purchased Minecraft and its developer, Mojang for $2.5 billion. Recently, the corporation announced that it completed acquisition of MinecraftEdu,a game-mode learning tool as well, and it will publish a new-edition sandbox game for education and schools. The concept is that Minecraft provides an open space where students in different educational level around the world will connect each other and study together. Throughout the official Twitter account, they continually report the usage of the program for students.

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Minecraft has become a culture with a special influence to the world. It is possible to create a cross-cultural and cross-geographic community for students, because creative always plays an important role in education. The game is beyond physical like Lego, so it offers an infinite opportunities for kids and the future.

 

 

Food Connects The World

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There is an obvious difference between American and Chinese food culture. Because economic and political ties accelerate the integration of different nation’s culture, the people have gradually accepted other food culture and it definitely is a successful cross-cultural nonverbal communication and exchange.

However, since I have been the United State four years, as a Chinese, I realized that the authentic and original Chinese food is still hardly accepted by Americans.

RELATED: Chinese food is not authentic Chinese food.

Topic

As a result, I will focus on how to increase the popularity and acceptability for Asian food industry in the American market and how the food industry affects intercultural communication.

Purpose

First, my purpose to write those following blogs is to demonstrate and analyze some successful and failure cases about importing Chinese food culture into the American market.  Second, I would like to introduce the authentic Chinese food industry via multimedia and consider causes of differences between American and Chinese dining cultures. Hence, through dissemination of information, my final purpose is to spread Chinese culture and promote Americans to understand more about it.

Interests

Through my blogs, I will focus on Asian food, food companies, and cultures. At the same time, I would like to introduce some interesting Chinese food. As the meaning of Tiramisu is “pick me up,” many Chinese dishes possess special meaning with their history.

Experience

Because of my experiences of living in China and America, I would like to share them with my audiences in order to attract their attention. After reading my experiences, I hope I can arouse echo in readers’ hearts so that finally they could be willing to involve in the Chinese food industry and culture.

Let us create mutual undestanding and friendship, and enjoy the food!

(Image via)