AFTER I write this, I'm headed to a luncheon to bid farewell to this year's Parvin Fellows, eight mid-career journalists from the People's Republic of China. They are wrapping things up after spending a few months with the University of Hawaii Journalism Department.
Peoples press visits Hawaii
Usually about half are with the English-language China Daily of Beijing; the rest are with the Xinhua News Agency, the PRC's national wire service. For years, we've invited the fellows to lunch and a tour of the Star-Bulletin.
Until recent years, they were a quiet, seemingly unsophisticated group, difficult to start a conversation with and mostly humorless -- the kind of people you'd expect the Communist Party to trust with exposure to the free press.
All that has changed. Today's Parvins are a worldly, lively, vocal bunch, full of questions, observations and very eager to use their language skills.
One, Tian Lijun, a feature writer for China Daily, even took advantage of the Star-Bulletin visit to get to know our restaurant reviewer Nadine Kam, a personal relationship that might have been frowned on in the past. They went to Doong Kong Lau restaurant at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza and collaborated on a review that we published on April 17.
They're a humorless bunch no more. Tian told Kam, "I gained 7 pounds, (researching local food) and people tell me it's natural to gain 10 pounds here. So I have 3 pounds to go.''