At the beginning of the year I joined the JiaoDa TV Station by proposing to them that they should produce a program that focused on the foreign students on campus. Although they enjoy much better living conditions than the Chinese students, foreign students are largely neglected by the institution. There are almost no opportunities for exchange between the foreign and Chinese student bodies. The foreign students eat, sleep, and attend class in the same building! One could spend his entire experience in China within that building. Moreover, due to H1N1, the university has closed this building to everyone except those who study and teach within it. The school's administration seems smotheringly concerned with ensuring that foreign students are kept isolated in relatively better living conditions.
However, there is a great deal of curiosity about the foreign students amongst the Chinese student body, and there is a great deal of eagerness amongst the foreign students to get out and about. So, I proposed to head a program that would introduce foreign students to the rest of the student body. My idea was to do pieces about individual study abroad students concerning where they come from and why they're in China. Each episode would follow one or two subjects as they try to do something in China that would've been simple in their own country (buying groceries, finding a place to rock climb, buying a book, etc.), but in China this task would prove to be quite an adventure (what with the cultural and linguistic differences and all). The idea was that this activity would illustrate vignettes of the subjects own country and culture as well as demonstrate their interest in and hopes for Chinese culture. By having already "met" these students on TV and having witnessed their readiness to engage with Chinese, perhaps Chinese students would feel like more comfortable approaching foreign students at JiaoDa.
The TV station agreed that the program was a good idea and immediately took it out of my hands. I now work as a "special" (特殊 tèshū) reporter, and my vision has fallen by the wayside. Instead, we now choose a theme and then try to make a news-type program about it by interviewing foreign students. Most of the decisions are made by our head reporter, and I'm used as a translator, an always-available-to-be-interviewed foreigner, and a consultant of sorts. The resulting show is called “非常印象” or "Gorgeous Impression." I think a better translation would have been "Impressions" or perhaps "Deep Impressions."
Episode 1: Acclimating to College Life or Vimeo
Episode 2: Student Clubs or Vimeo
Episode 3: International Eats or Vimeo