A True Conundrum
Trip Start Feb 23, 2010
38Trip End Jul 02, 2010
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What do "Chinglish Gone Wrong" and "Itty Bitty Bear Condition" have in common?
One of the perks about being in a region where little to no English is spoken is that you get to witness the most atrocious bombings of the English language. We're keeping a running list, some of which includes the following:
*A sign reading "Baby on Road"
*A line in an email written to Matt, reading "I'm sorry if this decision has made you hard."
*Another line in an email written to Matt (um, I'm seeing a theme here...Matt?), reading "feel free to touch me up on this one" (the student was referring to a wrong email address and provided Matt with the correct one)
*An experience in Hannah's class: Today in class, her students put a list of ingredients on the board and they listed "Blow"
*A sweatshirt with the following phrase written in big, bold letters across the front: "Itty Bitty Bear Condition." I'm sorry, but what condition??? Itty Bitty Bear? What the f.
*An incident in MY class today: some guy in my class was trying to explain the difference between his generation and his parents' generation. This is what he said: "In my parents' generation, you could just birth children freely." I literally had to stop myself from laughing uncontrollably for a good 5 minutes...I couldn't let it go.
*A label on a wine bottle: "It is a good wine from heaven and souls .That can read our happiness and sadness, like a bosom friend bringing us warmth. It lets cheers burst in out minds. It gives us magic wings leading you to the flying dreams."
Also, many of us have students in our classes who choose English names. Here are a few:
*Franks (yes, that's "Frank" with an "s" at the end)
*Hill (the best part is that this gentleman told me he wanted an American name but couldn't tell if it was masculine or feminine...when I asked him what the name was, he responded "Hill." All I could do was pause, and say, "............yup, that's a masculine name FOR SURE, so let's call you Hill."
*Sorphiay (yes, but this one's tricky--when she introduced herself to me, it sounded like "Stephanie." But when I asked her to spell it, she spelled it S-O-R-P-H-I-A-Y
*Google (my personal favorite)
Despite the entertainment provided by the Chinese, I felt myself beginning to slip into a more frequent mode of frustration and anxiety this week. The frustration came from constantly being stared and laughed at--it's to the point where it no longer feels flattering, but rather flat-out rude. I understand that this is a small city and that the inhabitants are not used to seeing foreigners--believe me, I get it. But there comes a time when, despite our physical differences, we have to realize that we're all still human beings. All of the staring, pointing, gawking, and laughing make me feel like I'm somehow less than human--like I'm just an object to be stared at. It's REALLY starting to get to me, and sometimes I just want to scream, "What the hell are you staring at?! I'm just a person!!!!!!" The one redeeming aspect of this troubling situation is that I had the opportunity to turn the tables Wednesday night. As the four of us were walking back from our St. Patrick's Day dinner (at a Korean Barbecue restaurant), a group of girls slowed down to stare as they passed us. Without even realizing it, I met their eyes and stared right back, but with my really creepy grin on my face (those of you who know me well know EXACTLY what look I'm referring to)
And then there's the anxiety. One of the lessons I must learn while I'm over here is how to say no to people. I have so many great students, so many new potential friends, but sometimes they can be SO persistent to hang out. I am trying my hardest to keep a positive perspective and appreciate that they want to spend time with me, but it becomes slightly overwhelming to receive a constant barrage of emails and phone calls pertaining to social gatherings. What makes it even more difficult is that my students pass around my email address to other people who don't even know who I am, yet they still invite me to do things with them. Or else these unknown people want help with English. Sometimes I just feel like I'm being pulled in several different directions, or that there's a crowd of people that keeps growing and surrounding me, all the while pushing me into a corner. So I have to get better about maintaining balance and setting boundaries.
Enough with the negativity. To end on a more-than-amusing note, I'm posting a video of Charles doing the "Funky Chicken" during our hall party on Friday. I feel like I haven't been able to sum him up using words, so hopefully this video accomplishes that which I cannot.