Bulletin from Beijing

I’ve been in Beijing for a little over two weeks now, and I’m really starting to settle into life here.I have a studio apartment which I am leasing on a day-to-day basis from a family friend and it’s much nicer and cozier than I expected (albeit rather expensive).

 On my second day here, I visited the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES) and met with my collaborators, Dr. Duan and a PhD student who insists that I call her what her friends call her, Zhenzhen. I presented my research topic and questionnaire to them and Dr. Duan is going to arrange for me to meet with a physician from the Beijing Maternal and Children’s Hospital (BMCH), who will facilitate the administration of the survey. Dr. Duan has made some minor revisions to the survey which I composed before my departure as I had to submit it for IRB approval. I then asked a relative to translate it into Chinese for me and Dr. Duan is helping me refine the Chinese version so it is easier for participants to understand. I hope that I can start administering the survey soon, but this really depends on Dr. Pan’s (from BMCH) schedule. In the meantime, Zhenzhen and I went shopping to purchase the gifts we’re going to be giving to the participants—packages of disposable diaper wipes. Dr. Duan believes the study participants will appreciate them and put them to good use.

 Before arriving in China, Dr. Zhang had given me some interesting background in the population I’ll be working with. He informed me that the average pregnant woman in Beijing is older and more educated than her American counterpart. Because of China’s strict one-child policy, women in urban areas of China do their best to make sure they are ready—in terms of family structure and finances—before attempting to have a child. There are also fewer teen pregnancies and single-mother pregnancies in Chinese urban areas in comparison to the States. I believe this places a lot of pressure on Chinese women to attain the right balance of success and stability before a certain age so that their one child will be born into the environment parents wish them to be brought up in. As you can imagine, the one-child policy—and the added pressures that come with it—have serious and far-reaching effects on social relationships and structures. It will be very interesting to see if the results reflect these demographics and how the average (educated) pregnant woman in Beijing views air pollution and its effects on her child.

 ‘Til next time,


Packages of disposable diaper wipes for the participants.

Zhenzhen “MODELS”ing our gifts!

The Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences: