Why Am I Here and Where am I going to?

“Why am I here? And where am I going to? ” said Cindy Xi, CEO of Leadership for Life (a world-wide education resources and network), at her speech today in Nanfang Daily Group building.

I attended Cindy Xi’s speech this weekend, hoping to get an idea about the education publication market from this legendary young female entrepreneur. And what I didn’t anticipate to see at her speech was the confidence, poise and elegance Cindy presented—an image of modern Chinese woman with both charm and wisdom. I am not sure if she can be regarded as a prodigy like Mozart, but she studied at Beijing Normal University at the age of 14 and became a lecturer as well as an assistant professor when she was 18 years old. After completing her further study at Northwestern University, USA, she set up her career in Wall Street when she was only 22 years old. Now she’s united the top-notched networking and education corps. partners in China to establish an online education network—Longman English. She wishes her company can be listed in NASDAQ as the first education resources and network company. Crazy English, the company I am working in, will be one of her business partners.

The questions she asked the audience stroke a chord of my sympathy. I have been working at my “first” job after graduation. I am considering these two questions from time to time. To me, it was totally a pure chance that I ended up to be an English editor. Why am I here? And where am I going to? They are thought-provoking to me, almost as the same degree as Hamlet’s “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

My editing job includes many different duties—because I am working for a monthly magazine, everything I do cannot be played by ear. We have a timetable to complete every duty at a certain time. Yes, I thought what an editor did was just re-arrange the word order of an article at the first place. But I was half correct. Apart from selecting articles, simplifying the words used in the articles, outlining the complicated English words with pronunciations and Chinese meanings, I also need to look for the relevant pictures for the articles I select, so that brings convenience to our graphic art editor. By the way, searching for pictures is a good outlet for me to get to know the event and the places which I haven’t been to. I have to have some articles recorded by the English native speakers. When the English native speaker is doing recording in the studio, I gotta listen to every single word s/he speaks at the other room through a big glass window. Indeed, I pretty much like a sound supervisor, making sure the speaker is following the script to read. My job description hasn’t finished yet!!! I have to do sound editing as well. WOW…that’s something I really think COOL. But the sound editing can be pretty time-consuming though—I have to listen to the same reading over and over again so as to make sure the fluency and intactness of the entire piece after being edited. And after this process is done, I have to do sound mixing with my colleague who is keen in this field. Basically, I am playing a role as a producer—picking out the suitable background music for the piece of reading. Haha, don’t you think I am having a taste of the sound making as that of Hollywood movies. Before a magazine comes out, being an editor, I have to do proofreading as well. Oh, this part is really tough, especially to me such a careless person. I have to correct the misspell words, the incorrect Chinese translation and others with our art graphic editor before the magazine has its finally print out.

You bet I do deeply understand how many processes a magazine has to go through before it sells at the newspaper stand. You can imagine how exhilarated I was whenever I turn over our Crazy English Teens magazine page after page, especially when reading the columns I take charge of. It is the joy of accomplishment. If the feedback from our teen readers is positive about the articles I selected, my daily 8-hour hard work sitting in front of the computer is made even more worthwhile. Yes the computer screen is the window to update my knowledge with the world. Sometimes I am really zoned out after many consecutive hours working at the computer. But nothing is faster than the internet to get to know the first hand news. I am neither a news reporter nor a journalist, but I am in charge of the news column in the magazine, so I have to be always aware of the issues which might appeal to our teen readers. Since our magazine is made two months in advance, the news section is really hard to cope. Because what I see NEWS now won’t be news to the readers after two months. Say, recently I wanted to report London Bombings. However, I had to add “Reminiscence” into the title. Anyway I enjoy this challenge as I know myself must keep pace with the world when reading news through the screen window.

The “Planet Travel” column is also my duty. Deep down inside me, I have quite a connection with this column as I am a travel buff. Disappointedly, I haven’t been to most of the places which I share with my readers in the magazine. When I edit the articles I am learning about the place as well as spreading my wings of imagination. If you happen to get the October issue of Crazy English Teens, you will see how I connect several different travel journals into two connected articles. I still remember the class I gave to my classmates at university, that I pretended as a world tourist invited to class to talk about my adventures. I showed all the postcards, calendars and pictures I had of the famous landmarks in the world—The Leaning Tower, Niagara Falls, Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Sydney Opera House etc. All my classmates were really blindfolded to believe I had been to all these places. And the gossip that I had been to many countries was even passed over to the mouths of classmates from other classes. Our spoken English teacher from New Zealand gave my group the highest score for my performance, her comment was “your class was so REAL!” Anyway, I pray for my world adventure dream will come true someday by the time when the policy will be a bit humane to our Chinese without a series of red-tape and prisoner-like investigation.

I may have told you that Crazy English Teens keep me young. Indeed, “Teen Life” is the column I take charge of. I sometimes daydream that perhaps because of this column, there would be a day that I could write something as sensational as J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series. Well, who knows? As I may also have told you before, I am a dreamer and strange thoughts often pound at my head. The thoughts could be part of the scenario of a story. I also take charge of the non-movie part in “Speak Up” column and answering the readers’ letters in Chinese. Yes, our chief editor knows about my good spoken English and that’s her idea to give me this duty, hoping I can stimulate the teen readers’ enthusiasm to speak English. Talking about my spoken English, here is an interlude happened today when I was at Cindy Xi’s speech. My big boss heard about my spoken English is not bad through my interviewer (the former deputy editor), so he came to me during break time and introduced me to the vice president of EnglishVod.net. He said I could give some English spoken classes to EnglishVod training center. I told him I had a little experience in teaching spoken English as I once worked at a summer camp organized by the youth English program “Hope English” of CCTV. Well, that’s it! We exchanged our name cards and introduced to each other briefly. I don’t know what will happen next, just like the question goes—where am I going to?

In the past two weeks, I had the chance to visit the warehouse of Crazy English and talked to the sales manager of Crazy English. My deepest impression is–the internet has changed and will change our life even more greatly in the future. Stacks of books and magazines pile up in the three-storey warehouse. The products on the first floor are the best sellers and the higher floor we went, the lower sell products we could see. The sales manager explained to us the great changes in the domestic book selling market in recent decade. Our suppliers are from state-own Xinhua Bookstores to private bookstores, and to today’s participation of online bookstores. The rapid changes in the market have altered our marketing strategies. As editors, we must consider the need of our readers’ more carefully than ever in order to capture them to purchase our products, although they may have another access to the information through the internet. I have noticed the internet revolution has been changing readers’ reading habit and ways during my conversation with a reporter from USA Today a couple of months ago. And sooner or later the internet will completely take the key role as an information distributor and news messenger. Or Ms Cindy Xi wouldn’t have sensed the huge market of online English education in China and have invested tons of money in this project. What I am more interested in is how the children from the poor rural areas in China receive education more conveniently through the internet. No matter what, it is a fact that the discrepancy between rich and poor is getting more and more obvious in mainland China. It’s a social issue which will bring about a series of by-effects to the growth of society. One noticeable phenomenon is the rate of crime will rise. Anyway, my daydream after the meeting with our sales manager and the speech of Ms Cindy Xi was–why not giving a shot at business, too? One of my friends once suggested me I should have set up my own English Club either in real life or on the internet. Maybe, I wish there’ll be a day that the ball is in my court. Will you still stand by my side?

Before I am off, another interlude I would like to share with you is I happened to meet my classmates from elementary school today. We had a reunion lunch today and I thought I would have missed it because of Cindy Xi’s speech. But I met my folks in the mall afterwards. 10 years ago I wondered what we would become after we grew up. 10 years later when we sit around the table, asking what we are doing now, the scene is so friendly and familiar to me. We have classmates work in the bank, in the ads company, in the foreign trade company, even still studying or receiving further education overseas. When they got to know my job as an English editor, they were a bit surprised. “You must be doing really good! I am interested in knowing more…” “What is your job like?” “Have you had the experience in this field before?” “How did you get this job?” “What’s your major at univ. that enables you to become an editor?”…I could see the curiosity from their eyes and I reckoned I was the one at the table who was asked the most questions about my job. Well, I’d better save this thought for next time.

I have set up a blog, however, I only can compose but I am not able to view blog. That means, whatever comments the guests leave I won’t be able to read. I hope I can solve the problem soon. But you are more than welcome to visit my blog to read my update news. Don’t forget to stay in touch!!!

 

(adapted from www.blogger.com on August 7

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