From my previous update on this post, I am pleased to announce that I have been selected to participate in the programme, and become a Global Ambassador for Ulster University!
Whilst travelling internationally and widening my exposure to the outside world had not been the initial intention of this module in the few first weeks of February, I am delighted with the change that has occurred, and for the excitement that looms overhead. Through using my initiative to apply for the programme, I have now been given a significant title within the university, and have the potential to gain a qualification in level one HSK; the ability to speak another language would be of immense benefit.
Although the experience does not interlink directly with my ambition to be a freelance artist and comic creator, I prefer being rather unorthodox with my methods of approaching a situation; seeing things from a fresh perspective has always benefitted me greater than charging ahead with perceived notions that turn out to be falsified. That is why I am open minded and taking advantage of opportunities such as Experience China; the experience that I would gain from that would be beneficial to any form of employment – the inspiration and influence alone is a fantastic opportunity for an artist.
Given that my experience of China will only concur after this module has been handed in and marked, I have directed my attention on conducting research as preparation for my trip. I discovered a youtube blogger by the name of Loawhy86, who produces weekly videos that discuss his life and experience living in Shenzhen, China.
Figure 1.2 – Shown above, the intro from Loawhy86’s recent youtube channel.
Occasionally, C-Milk (Laowhy86 screen-name) will create videos for his alternative Youtube Channel with SerpentZa, ADV China – a talk show hosted on the back of two bikes, as they drive through the landscapes of Asia. The two have recently completed their own documentary, ‘Conquering Southern China’ (2016), which gave a fascinating insight into the lifestyle and social construct of a communist country within the 21st century.
One particular episode that stood out to me was their discussion regarding the educational system in China; ‘China’s Educational System is a Prison’ (2016). It is a known stereotype that all Asians are smart – as ridiculous and blanketed a term that is, there is some merit of the reasoning behind the assumption, and that is the ‘Goa Koa.’ Essentially, children in China grow up with an intense pressure of extra-curricular activities, studies and hobbies in order to shape them in preparation for the Goa Koa exams. These exams would be the Chinese equivalent to A-Level achievement, guaranteeing the Chinese student’s entry into a university of their choice.
As the bloggers converse, it becomes clear that this exam is prevalent to the educational system in China. They have spoken in previous videos that the reason China produces so many knock-off materials is due to the lack of creativity within the population and that the cause is due to the importance that is signified in correlation to these exams. Creativity, as a result, is considered secondary in comparison to the knowledge and abilities gained from more practical subjects in industries such as medicine and technology.
That is very disheartening to hear, especially as China is known for its colourful history and destinations that are immersed within the creative, expressive relics of the past. In fact, it is understandable why animators and other creative types have been drafted in within recent years, as the country has seen an increase in the demand for Asian-influenced animation; a challenging demand to attend in-house, due to the shortage of artists within the national population.
Christopher Colman (2017) spoke to the British Council about his experience living in China whilst working in the creative industry. Originally having secured a job for a six-month period in Shanghai, his future was soon to change as he adapted to the culture and lifestyle of the Chinese population. When asked about the perception of the animation industry within the country, Colman replied that the industry is not considered to be of high status within society. In a similar fashion to companies within the west; long hours, lack of appreciation and constant pressure to meet deadlines and achieve targets.
Despite the frustration, Colmon was not put off by the growing pains of the industry. He expanded his network reach, looking abroad for investors as he slowly began to build up his collective within the Shanghai district. The reason that the industry is beginning to grow is due to the fact that they have stopped in the replication and manufacturing of animated series, and started to look into the creative concept for themselves; identifying their own intellectual properties. The authorities – normally against promoting lower society industries are warming to the idea of promoting a softer perception of China to the world through their own creative industries and productions.
It is something to consider moving forward, as graduation steadily approaches further. Whilst I am currently uncertain of what to expect during the two-week stay in the Wuhan and Bejing provinces. I will be sure to try and investigate the current state of the animation industry, as it has the potential to lead to an employment opportunity at some stage in the line. In addition to gaining better prospectus of attaining employment
In addition to gaining better prospects of attaining employment with the achievements of Ulster University Global Ambassador, and (hopefully!) a qualification in HSK – I feel that the experience provides me with an unorthodox and interesting way to consider work opportunities. Only time and experience can guarantee whether or not the risk was worth it, but I am excited for the events that lay ahead.
ADV China (2016). China’s Education System is a Prison. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYGNB3cABUU [Accessed 10 May 2017].
Colman, C. (2017). What is working in China’s animation industry like?. Available at: https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/what-working-chinas-animation-industry