To Mothers ('Tiger' or Otherwise)

By James Fallows

by Ella Chou

Before leaving China for the States, I installed Skype on my mom's computer, signed up an account for her, and added myself as her first and so far only friend. I hardly ever talk to her on Skype, however, because soon she changed her status to a line from an ancient Chinese poem, which translates to: my child is on a journey a thousand miles far, oh how I worry and grow weary. It made me so sad every time I saw this line, I just couldn't stand using Skype any more and opted for cell phone.

Here is a commercial from Tencent QQ about a mother and a son, which resonated deeply with me and many overseas Chinese. Like the mother in the commercial, my mom also types by pressing the keyboard with her forefinger and has a dictionary by her hand to check the pinyin (the Chinese equivalent of spelling). She has accompanied me to the airport several times but she herself has never been abroad.

I subtitled the video over the weekend and jotted down some thoughts on what I see from this commercial about China's IT industry and the typical "American Dream" many young Chinese used to share, yet may not continue to dream.

Thanks to Deb, author of this extraordinary book, for suggesting this post. Deb, I wish you a safe flight and fantastic travels in China!

Ella Chou, who grew up in Hangzhou, China, is a graduate student in Regional Studies-East Asia at Harvard, studying law and comparative politics.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/02/to-mothers-tiger-or-otherwise/71030/