Are you ready for 2021 ?
Let’s get started with some good thoughts about the upcoming year by learning how to pronounce the numbers and what they mean.
二零二十一 Èr líng èrshíyī
The first number in Mandarin is one (1) or yī ; the number two (2) or èr is written with two lines that look like the equal sign in roman numbers.
Shí means ten (10)…and it looks like
standing with your arms stretched out wide.
Shí also sounds exactly like the word “to be
or is” 是
This got me to using some word play with the
numbers for the New Year, for instance èr
or 2 rhymes with èr for child.
兒是一 Children are one – sounds
similar to 21 èrshíyī
It seems like a great theme for the New Year.
The Chinese character for One can mean
uniformity – to be unified. The
singular – one – is a representative
of the whole.
One child representative or example.
Forty years ago I began to study Mandarin Chinese, I was 18 years old and by the time I turned 19, I was flying on Korean Airlines to travel to Taiwan to become the first African-American student from Umass Amherst to study at Tunghai University in TaiChung. I first spent my summer in Taipei with the Chan Family on Yong Kang Jie while attending the Mandarin Language Center at Shi Da University.
You could say I was that “Child Representative” for my family and in many ways I bore the burden of being the “First Black Girl” many in the city or countryside would ever meet. As an only child of my single mom I was rather conscious of behavior and expectations.
However, preteens and adults may enjoy the fuller story of my travels in the book
The Majestic Crane. A few other translated books are available for Mandarin readers.
After studying Mandarin, I began Japanese studies and some wonderful young women, who are now mothers as well, helped to translated many of my books into NiHonGo or Japanese.
It’s hard to believe many years have gone by and this year I will be celebrating
The Year of The Ox with special care, as it is the year I was born as well.
It is said that Ox people are natural humanitarians. I suppose by publishing storybooks I aim to bring a childlike perspective to cultural exchange. I was taught by my mom to see the beauty in all people and my Christian upbringing instilled in me a faith in One God, who diversifies mankind and all creation – so you could also ask yourself are you working for mankind? For all children , “兒是一?”
I would love to share more of my experience and embrace you all in love. I am open to learning more of your experiences as well.
Thirty Years ago, I was blessed with a daughter who was born while living on the Campus of Showa Boston, it was Faith Barcus the Student Life Director who embraced our family so I could embrace the hearts of over 2,000 students as a Dorm Mother from 1990 to 1992. I shared the love I received from my mother and the women who influenced and encouraged me to know their culture, and I shared mine.
This year it has been difficult to endure the hurtful acts, words and discouragement towards African Americans and Asians… yet the colorful artwork of Chihiro Iwasaki that illustrated the storybook “The Crane Maiden” by Miyoko Matsutani somehow caught my eye as a nine-year old and on the wings of love and hope landed me in Tokyo in 1981. I am faithful the eternal touch of love will bring us all together to rise above the ashes of hate and teach us to be fearless in hope that we can find ways to be united by friendship.
Happy New Year!
Rochelle O’Neal Thorpe, Publisher