Connecting Mandarin and English,
Routine but Still Unique
(October 18, 2008) (return
is the unknown and the anticipation that is most difficult. We've spent
several days reviewing our options regarding Denvy's health including returning
to America indefinitely or for a short hospital stay. Fortunately the results
of today's visit to the doctor resolved the future, and we are not making
any premature trips to America
Gail too has had some dicomfort in her back,
perhaps from the very hard bed and even harder chairs. Perhaps it is a lack
of therapy gained from working in the garden and with friends in the community.
Perhaps we're also getting older. It is interesting that either of us have
ever had such physical challenges before. So our activities have been curtailed
and you have not heard from us.
The students continue to beour strength and
reason for being here. They are so wonderful. When we started our classes
with only freshmen on the new campus several weeks ago, they asked us about
an English Corner on that campus. We encouraged them to organize a time
a place and so Friday at 5:00PM, 20 minutes after Denvy's last class there,
we walked out into the yard where some 100 students accumulated to informally
speak English and ask questions. While they remain rigidly respectful and
shy to a fault in the classroom, they are animated and vibrant in the fresh
air. Their questions range from naive and repetitive to unique and in depth.
They ask us to see and tell stories and because it's a wonderful learning
experience, we do it all.
Since we were downtown to see the doctor today,
we decided to walk around a bit, probably one of the first times when we
weren't escorted or ushered to the attractions. We picked up some groceries
and executed one of the activities that we felt we needed to do at least
once in China to say that we did it and so we could answer questions back
home. We ate at McDonalds, a couple of grilled chicken, we think. The box
had the Chinese character for chicken and basially it tasted like chicken,
although it had a Nanchangese hot bite to it. A coke is a coke and the French
fries were actually not a greasy as we get them in America. So there
you have it, an experience in a Chinese McDonald, in a nutshell, or perhaps,
in a bun.
A note about the lives of Chinese students:
our writing classes we ask the students to write something each
week. After all it is a writing class. One student told Denvy that
we are the first international or foriegn teacher to ever assign
homework. She went on to say it is good for us and it shows that
you care. I don't know much about the caring, but I know that other
international teachers don't have papers, sometimes two a week,
for 240 students to read and grade. Perhaps this is a measure of
we have learned so much from these writings-insights into their
lives that we would never know. Stories about caring and loving
parents. About a mother who was given in an arranged marriage when
very young to an older man, was abused and beat before the daughter.
About being raised by grandma and finally understanding why father
was so strict to the point of being scary.
the reader, these are impersonal of a couple of the 1.3 billion
Chinese in this overpopulated country. To us, they are our children
and it brings us to tears, both for the joys and saddness. The idea
of leaving them prematurely was devastating.
we've made at this university, which is not one of the top university
in the country or even the city, the students here are the ones
whose examinations didn't allow them to get into the better universities.
Many come from the families of farmers and live in farm villages.
Their finances are also typically very poor. And they have brothers
and sisters which is almost unheard of among the international Chinese
students at WOU. Also most of the students at WOU come from families
where the parents lived in the cities and had good jobs and positions.
These students at JSTU so badly need the extra support, and so strongly
Back to reading papers and discovering the
personal lives of our future leaders in the world.