For Payton
and Deona

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Connecting Mandarin and English,
          Chinese and American,
                    people with people

We've Experienced the Basic Chinese Lessons - Now on to the Advanced
(September 25, 2008) (return to Homepage)
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     We've been through the lessons on hot weather in China, the one on riding the bus, shopping and drinking all night. We learned about the Intenet wilderness and getting too many scoops of rice at the canteen. We thought we were ready to graduate from the Chinese version of the "School of Hard Knocks" when we were promoted to the next level of surprises.
     On our walk back from class yesterday, I revealed to Gail that a Chinese instructor had been introduced to me because this instructor was writing a book, I believe for English speaking children, on how to pronounce Chinese pinyin. She needed an editor who understood English. I said yes. Gail then "fessed up" that a student had talked to her about translating some English into Chinese for a Chinese instructor and the student didn't understand all the English. Yep, Gail volunteered to help explain the English so the student could write it in Chinese.
     Earlier in the day, actually first thing in the morning, our daughter Skyped us wanting to talk. Then our second American-Chinese daughter called us on the phone to talk about some fouled up paperwork for working in America. About noon our neighbor across the hallway, probably our third daughter of the day, came by wanting to print her 11-page lesson plan. Sure, why not? But beware, the printer typically works about once out of seven tries. We never got to that point--her document was on MicroSoft Works and no one has that word processor, at least we don't on our three computers. About the same time daughter number four, the new American teacher from North Carolina, who parents are Chinese immigrants, making her visually a native Chinese who speaks no Chinese to the surprise of the locals, came by with her own list of issues.
     The evening was grand as we sat on the curb talking to students who wandered by, fielding questions like "Why do you have a beard?" to comments about divorced relatives and whether one or the other is the bad person. We come away from those conversations totally exhausted and exhilarated. (I think that is a combination of two figures of speak: an alliteration and an oxymoron; I think I'm learning my English.)
     As we were about to wrap thing up for the day, daughters four and three came pounding on the door hoping that daughter number four could Skype her mother. (Her promised computer is not scheduled to arrive until.., well, we don't know when.) to wire some money. (She lost her bank card before she got here.) After a couple hours of experiencing and working on a snail-paced Internet, the task was accomplished.
     No, the story is not over. As we were working on Skype I noticed the wind picking up and about the time the final "Good-bye" was blasted over Skype, the skies lit up with a bolt of lighning. A quick trip to the balcony revealed sheets of rains were tumbling down the street. Cyclists were scrambling for cover and as the frequency and intensity of the storm increased, the girls decided to make themselves at home in their parents' home. That would be our place. About that time as the thunder came directly after the lightning strikes, we discussed power outages and, lo and behold, the boys' dorm across the way was dark. No problem, we had power, but let's locate the flashlights. And it was a good thing because we were next. This prompted the statement, "There's no way I'm going back to my apartment.!"
     Later, after the eye of the storm had moved on, not knowing the time, we said we were going to bed but they could stay as long as the wanted. Being intellect college graduate, they recognized a hint when it was presented and politely went to share their terror in one of their apartments. It was 1:00AM. I suspect it was a couple hours later when the lights came on and woke us.
     This morning we fired up the computer and returned to
normal, Chinese version. In the middle of a Skype conversation with Weiwei, the air conditioner went off. Oops, so did the computer and the lights and everything. It wasn't long before power was restored again, only to disappear moments later. Gail's little jaunt downstairs revealed that we are out for the long haul; no AC, our lifeline to survival and not even fans in the classrooms which never see AC. In Alaska in the remote wildreness I know how to handle this. Thus, they advanced lesson on living in China. I hope we pass this examination.

A note about English plurals :
Help! Which is correct in America?
"The Olympic Games is..." or "The Olympic Games are..."?
Careful now, it is almost a trick question!
"The Olympic Games was a grand event in Beijing this year." and
"The Olympic Games consist of many different competitions."

Or try this one;
"The student was asked to turn in (his)(his/her)(their) assignment."

Thanks, for the opinions and the rules.


     We're teaching this weekend. The idea of a Chinese holiday is to postpone the work to the weekend. Next week we don't teach Monday through Sunday, but then after the term is over we will teach to make up the holidays. Clever! Why haven't the Americans thought of this?

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