Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chinese / English / Special Words

I think one of the most fascinating things about learning another language is not how much better you learn the language you desire but the one you already know. You begin to see the limitations of your own language.

For example, (this really just fascinates me and if you're skimming or don't care, I suggest skipping this part as it has little to do with the rest of the email) I was reading my Chinese book the other day, and the author was discussing ordinal numbers in Chinese and English and how in English it is extremely difficult to ask a question with no qualification and receive only an ordinal number in response. Take the sentence, "Ronald Reagan was the 40th president" and try to frame a question where you receive only "the 40th" in response. If you ask, "Which president was Reagan", then you could easily receive any number of responses like, "He was the one who was an actor," etc... To get "the 40th" you would have to ask with a qualifier, "George Washington was the first president, what about Ronald Reagan?" In contrast, Chinese it is very easy to ask in such a way that the only appropriate response is "the 40th" (di ji ge ren shi Ronald Reagan) What's fascinating though is not why it is so difficult to ask questions about ordinal numbers, but that it does not bother native English speakers that they cannot. And what's even more interesting is that they never think to ask why. My point is that language, whether we know or not, has a way of shaping the way we see the world and furthermore it shapes the questions we ask about the world.

There's even more I could write like in John's Book in the first sentence, he talks about the Word. The Greek for "the Word" is "logos", and literally it does mean the word, but it means much more It doesn't mean just the word; there's an entire portrait painted behind this word pointing to so much more. In Chinese, they translate logos as "dao". We really don't have an English equivalent for dao just like we don't for logos, but what's amazing is that with dao it paints a much brighter picture of the original meaning. Language is our lens for interpreting the world around us. What's even more fun is, does language affect our thoughts or do our thoughts affect our language? And how can you distinguish between the two? Can you?

With that said Following in China has really shaped the way I view Following in general. Here in China we don't use a lot of the Special words we use in the States. Things like righteousness and holy have little meaning in a country where people have problems saying their names using English. For example, meetings have become Meetings and family has become Family and asking, Asking. The mundane and normal words of our everyday life have been invaded by the holy. When someone calls and says "We're going Swimming", it no longer has the same meaning.

I see a problem in American Families in the language we use. In fact, as Followers in America (myself included) we have two separate languages we speak. We have our Sunday language and our normal language, and I'm not talking about cussing or rude jokes. We have Special words we use, like holy or righteousness. These words are great in that they express complex ideas in a succinct and understandable form. The problem is in that we don't live only on Sunday, and the overwhelming majority of our lives are lived out Monday through Saturday.

Maybe the reason we have such a hard time Sharing is that we're speaking a different language. Maybe the reason American Followers are so shy about Telling people is that they don't have the right words. The words they use to express their feelings about Him are not the words they use in their everyday life. The problem isn't that they don't want to; the problem is that they don't know the words. When was the last time you used, "holy" or "salvation" in an everyday conversation?

The great thing about living here is that the holy has invaded the mundane. Words like family don't just mean family. Books are not just books. Following isn't just following. Instead of sectioning off our lives and our language the holy is breaking through into every aspect. Don't get me wrong, Special words are great. We are a different culture, and we should have a different language. The problem becomes when we don't know how to explain these words with our everyday vocabulary. The problem is when we can't translate. It then becomes the wrong lens to view the world. Instead of the holy being everywhere and our becoming aware of it, the language we use tells use that the holy belongs sanctioned off in specific areas.

Language is the glasses we use to interpret the world around us. The danger is that Special words teach us that maybe Sundays are just a game we play apart from our everyday life. The holy must break through the mundane.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Novel of my Trip. I apologize in advance.

So here's a quick run down of what all we did in our four weeks. All in all we covered several thousand miles and by the end when we calculated it all up we spent over 100 hours on buses and trains, the majority of which were to just get us out of China.

So here's how it went down. This is the abbreviated version if you have any questions feel free to hit me up. As I begin to write, I have a feeling it will be abbreviated but yet horribly long so I suggest skimming. Sorry it's not going to be much on fluff this go around and more on just letting ya know what happened.

Me and Angelyn left on the 16th from Shiyan to go to Nanning, China to work on Vietnam Visas.

Jan 20-22 - Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is possibly one of the craziest cities I have ever been to, hands down. I've never seen anything like it in my life. They say that Hanoi's population is 4 million people with 2 million of them owning motorbikes. Now imagine a thousand of those zooming down a one way street with no sidewalks about 20 feet wide with no stoplights or stop signs or any sort of traffic signals. I wish I were exaggerating. Now imagine trying to cross said street. Basically you step out in front of cars and motorbikes and expect that they will move. It was incredible and yet terrifying all at once. Seriously, after living in Asia for a year with their traffic I'm going to get hit by a car when I get back to the States.

Jan 23-24 - Hue, Vietnam. First day we got bikes and went biking through rice fields to these ancient tombs. After seeing the touristy ones, we kept going on the road and found these incredible ones in literally the middle of the jungle, all in the rain. Possibly one of my favorite days. The next day we took a tour of the DMZ which was pretty neat.

Jan 24-25 - Traveled from Hue to Mui Ne with a brief stop in Hoi An.

Jan 26-29 - Laid on a sweet beach in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Jan 30 - Feb 1 -Spent the day in Ho Chi Minh (where I found Dr. Pepper and Mexican Food and promptly wept afterwards) and then went on a Mekong river cruise for two days as we traveled from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Feb 2 - 6 - Went to Siem Reap and spent two days at Angkor Wat. Possibly one of the coolest places I've ever been in the world. I can't express how amazing this place is. Everyone should see it. For those of you that don't know what it is, it’s this gigantic temple complex in the middle of the Cambodian jungle. It’s unbelievable. Google pictures.

Feb 7 - 9 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We visited the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum on the 8th. It was an intense day. Cambodia's had a rough life in the past 50 years but they’re some incredible people. For those of you that don’t know what happened, around 1975 a man named Pol Pot came to power and within two days of claiming it he sent every person out to work in fields. He literally emptied every person from Phnom Penh (the capital) which is a city of 1 million people. For the next five years he tried to "Re-Educate" the people and in the process killed somewhere between and 1 and 2 million people or nearly a third of the population of Cambodia. He killed nearly every intellectual and artist, basically wiping away the entire culture of the country. The first thing I noticed when crossing into Laos was the number of old people compared to Cambodia because most of them were not able to survive Pol Pot and the horrible conditions. The people are amazing though. Some of the nicest people we met in Southeast Asia were Cambodians. I'll write more about this day later. It was intense.

We also met up with the Northens, some Workers there and Met with their Family there. It was great.

Feb 9 - 10 - We went to Kratie (prounced Krawtchy) and some fresh water river dolphins and then on the 10th crossed into Laos.

Feb 11 - Si Phan Don or Four Thousand Islands, Laos Laos (pronounced Lao). The whole time we were traveling we kept hearing about Laos and how great it was. Every person just described Laos using the word “chill” And it’s true. Laos is just "chill". If you ever go to Laos, expect your food to take well over an hour to cook while the Laotians feel no hurry to make it any other way. Every city in Laos was like a ghost town just because no one was in a hurry to get around. Even the capital on a Tuesday morning was like I was in Searcy, Arkansas. Four Thousand Islands is a great place to go if you just want to relax and swim in the Mekong (even though I'm pretty sure there's someone living in my stomach now because of it)

Feb 11 - 12. Traveling to Vang Vien

Feb 13 - 15 Vang Vien, Laos. Really neat place. We spent the day tubing on the Nah Sho River. We were the only people on it for ours. It was amazing gorgeous.

Feb 15 - Traveled to Luang Prabang. Funny story. This "four hour bus ride"(read six) was incredible. For the last five hours we spent it winding through these mountains in a 40 passenger bus without a town in site. Needless to say some people's bladders were getting a little full. About five and hours into it, the grown man behind me just started crying, "I have to peeeee." At which the back half of the bus erupted in unison begging (which involved the use of unique charades) to the driver who spoke no English. He got the idea and about 15minutes later he pulled over onto a banana plantation. I was towards the front of the bus and couldn't get out at first and as I sat there I watched literally 50 people file off this 40 passenger bus and make their way through a field of banana tress. So if in a month or so you're eating some bananas and they have "grown in Laos” on the box. You can thank me and my friends for our contribution to the Laotian economy.

Feb 15 night - 18 - Traveling from Luang Prabang to Shiyan. 72 hours on a bus and train. Culminated by 6 hours standing from Wuhan to Shiyan. Need I say more?

Grace and Love

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm a Freakin American Man...

So the other day Angelyn had just finished giving a lecture on American slang in which she mentioned Ebonics. After Angelyn had finished one of our friends "Casanova" Crystal came up to her and said, "Oh yes, I have once had the opportunity to meet a freakin' American."

Angelyn responded with a, "A freakin' what?!"

"Yes a freakin' American. You know a black person?"

"Oh, you mean an African American?"

"Yes a freakin' American"

I'm thinking maybe our new slogan for anti-racism should be, "You're not white or black. You're a freakin' American man..."

I'm beginning to love my Thursday morning class. It's my English major class (the one with the Crazy Girls and Love Sick Amy (who has yet to quit taking my picture while I am teaching) and Cocoa). I teach them three times a week but I especially love Thursday's. I've been doing American music lessons and teaching them all the greats from Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix to Vanilla Ice. We usually listen to the song and then talk about what it was talking about. The other day we were listening to "Crossroads" by my personal favorite Bone Thugs N' Harmony. The song is about a guy whose friend dies and talking about what happens to him after death. We talked for a long time about things like this. Usually we always have something like that because that's what art does it talks about deeper things. And through all this I'm learning you don't have to talk about It to being talking about It. Maybe that's something we can all learn from in America, You don't have to say the name for it to count as mentioning him. I say all this to ask you to remember the Crazies. They're coming over on Saturday to Read with us. I'm wicked excited. I've been Asking for them for a while now, and what's better is they were the ones who initiated it.

I'm also slowly falling in love with the Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. If you haven't read it, you should (right now). In it he writes that when he was getting to ready to graduate from college people kept asking him what he was going to do when he graduated. He said he got so tired of it he eventually began to respond, "I'm not so much worried about what I will do as to who I am becoming." I've fallen in love with this quote. I think there's some deep truth in it because the truth is who you are, is what you will do. Who I am is what I will do regardless of the job I have or where I'm at. I think that is one of the main messages of the whole book. People always ask what is His Will or Plan in my life. And I'm beginning to wonder if maybe he cares more about who I am becoming that what I am doing. Because honestly doing always comes out of being. You can fake it for a while but eventually you will always go back to who you are at the core of your being.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


So driving in China is pretty much the most ridiculous thing ever. Every time you get in a taxi or step on a bus you are in for a ride that no amusement park could ever offer (mainly for liability issues). Nobody stops for anyone, nor do they really obey any of "normal" traffic laws such as staying in your lane or even staying on your side of the road. Taxis and even buses spend as much time on the left hand side of the road as the right. I mean, they try to stay on the right but if it's not possible they just annex the left lane to their side and continue on. When you look at it, it seems like the most dangerous act known to man. There are lines on the ground but no one really follows them. The basic rule is, if you can fit there, you can go there. I've been in taxis that just drive in the middle of the road with absolutely no need for it.

With all this said, I gotta admit it's growing on me. It's so fluid. The way traffic just adjusts (and by adjust I mean nearly hits every car in sight but never does) for people but never stops is really something beautiful. I'm actually starting to believe it's safer than in America. Driving in America has so many rules and while the rules are really meant to keep people safe, I think in the end they end up being a detriment to the safety of the people on the road. We begin to trust in the rules way too much for our safety. With the lanes clearly marked we believe that no one will cross those lanes at the wrong time, because we've set up a perfect system that if everyone follows then no one will get hurt. But in all reality these rules hurt us, because when someone breaks the rules we don't know what to do so we overreact and end up swerving into oncoming traffic where the other person doesn't know what to do so they overreact and so on and so forth. Or we trust the rules so much that we don't pay enough attention assuming the others will follow the rules just like we will. But in the end, the rules which were meant to protect us end up hurting us.

In China, with really no set rules people adjust. I mean it's not like there's not rules, they are just basic i.e. don't hit anyone. They don't need to mark the boundaries so much because everyone has the same goal, to get where they are going quickly and safely, and they live inside that goal and adjust accordingly. China's driving may seem to have no meat to it's ideology behind it but it's based upon the same spirit of driving that everyone takes on as their own. They have no need for rules to define the way people should act because they all live with the same spirit.

China appears dangerous but it's actually safe. America looks safe but it's actually dangerous. Rules appears safe but they can actually be dangerous.

On the outside it's real clean and tidy but in life it can get pretty dirty. While spirit can look real dirty sometimes, and yet be remarkably clean. We tend to try to box ourselves in as a way of protection when in reality we are just designing a system that merely provides the illusion of protection.

It's kind of like this guy who built his house on some sand and then this big storm came...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My Chinese Name

Today was a much needed good day. It's been raining non-stop for the past day, and when you have to walk everywhere this can be a little depressing and pretty much nasty.

Every Thursday night one of the foreign teachers has to attend "English Corner" which is supposedly a place where students can come and speak English , but essentially what happens is everyone speaks Chinese and surrounds the foreign teacher and asks him the same questions for two hours straight. Tonight was my first time to go, so I was asked to give an introduction. I began by telling them about myself and then opened the floor to questions. Shortly into the questions, a girl asked if I had a girlfriend, which was shortly followed by the usual "Do you want a Chinese one?" I laughed, and then my good friend Christina (who had sung for us last week and confessed that she secretly wants to marry a foreigner) asked me to tell all one hundred of the present students about my love life. I told them it was pretty much non-existent and moved on to more equally embarrassing questions. Afterwards Christina found me and told me that my new hair cut made me look very handsome and that I am much thinner now. She then inquired as to if I had a brother and if she could have a picture. I told her I would love to give her a picture and that my brother loves Chinese girls. (sorry Dustin).

After all this we went for a late dinner to my favorite restaurant which we call Happy Guy's. We walked in and ordered some food. Me and Happy Guy and the rest of the Happy family are becoming good friends. While we were waiting, Happy Wife who we've named Stella offered us some coffee which was glorious even though it was instant. It's really special because coffee's pretty expensive here and Happy Guy isn't exactly Rich Guy. I think he was having a family reunion or something because by the end of the meal it was us three foreigners, Stella, Happy Guy and his brother and sister sitting around talking and by talking I mean stumbling through broken English and even worse Chinese. It was a blast though. By the end Happy Guy inducted us into his family lol. His real name is Zhang Hai Long. His family name is Zhang and then his personal name means Dragon of the Sea. I told him I wanted to be Shan Long (Dragon of the Mountain) and he laughed and said "Ok, you Zhang Shan Long." It was great and much needed after a couple of nasty days outside. I'm learning more and more about community and how important it is to have those little glimpses of community in a place where you can feel so disconnected. I don't think life in America is much different in this respect either. Things like talking to a waitress or cashier that you normally wouldn't, gives a little bit of connection and community in a place that's desperately lacking it.

Tomorrow me and some Brothers and Angelynn are going to Shanghai and Hangzhou for October Holiday for a week. We have a 17 hour bus ride to look forward to which should be great. I'm really excited about it all. The Brothers are some real cool guys and we're staying with Jakie's brother who is a professional chef in Shanghai. It's pretty much gonna be amazing. If any of you have seen Mission Impossible 3, the last scenes are in Shanghai and we are going to be going for a day to the village at the very end of the movie.

Be Remembering my new friends that I met eating rice the other day (I call them the Rice boys). We've been hanging out a lot and they're really great guys, I like em a lot and really hope that our relationship continues to Grow. Also, be Talking about my friend Grease (he spells it Grace but calls himself Grease, don't ask me...) Me and him are becoming good friends. We played ping pong today for a while, the guys a stud. I met a guy named Sean tonight that I felt like I Connected with so keep Remembering him too.

My backs feeling a lot better, but keep it in Mind. It still hurts some but not near as bad so I'm pretty stinkin Grateful for that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just Call Me Yao Ming

Yesterday was awesome. Angelynn and I went to this place called "Sometimes Coffee" (I guess Sometimes it's not?). I have been craving real coffee lately so we went in and ordered some excessively over priced coffee at 20 kuai a cup. Keep in mind I can eat a really nice full meal for about 7 kuai. So we get our coffee and it honestly wasn't that bad. It probably would have been better (and cheaper) if they used a little less coffee grounds in it, but I was pleased even though I could have eaten for a day off the price of it.

After that, Angelynn had to go back to her apartment for a women's Study with the Family, so I decided I would go out and explore. I walked through the streets of this little China-Town just watching people and going in and out of shops. In one shop I looked around and came out and there was a little boy there. He said, "Hello." I said hello back and then asked him, "Ni jiao shenme mingzi" (What's your name?) and as soon as I said that the kid gasped and started shouting excitedly in Chinese and within seconds there were 30 something little elementary school kids crowded around me asking me questions in Chinese. It was great.

Somehow I was able to pick out little words here and there and answered their questions. They were thoroughly impressed. I've learned that little kids are the best place to practice a foreign language. They are so open to listening and you don't have to fit in their little box of how the language is supposed to be, just long as you're speaking it or trying to, you're in.And if you're not speaking it right, they just sit and listen while you say it over and over till you finally get it right. It makes me think of when He said, "You must be come like little children or you will never enter the Kingdom." But that's another post...

We, me and the now huge group of Chinese kids, sat on the sidewalk and chatted for half an hour when they finally asked me something that I didnt understand but one word, "Qiu" which means ball in Chinese. Mocca, the main leader of the entourage, then made a dribbling motion with his hand. I thought he was asking if I liked basketball so I said yes and then out of nowhere Mocca grabbed my hand and took off running down the sidewalk.

Ok, so picture this: one white boy with a bright orange backpack with 30 little Chinese ten year olds running full sprint down the sidewalk of a crowded street during rush hour. We ran for about 50 yards and then we turned right into this gated area which was their school. At this time, a guard stepped out and held out his head for us to stop and said some stuff in Chinese. Ten of the kids went to him and started saying things, and then while the guard was distracted the other 20 kids motioned for me to follow while he wasn't looking. I was like, whatever, I don't know what's going on, so I snuck past the guard.

We got in and I played basketball with these kids for over an hour. They were the nicest kids in the world, literally. They saw I had my digital camera with me and were going crazy about it, but when we got started to play they showed me to put my backpack next to the goal and I was kind of hesitant to leave my camera there, but I put it in my backpack and as soon as I did they all moved their packs on top of mine to hide it.

I had been culture shockin a little that day, and it was an awesome Gift that was Sent.

Crying Girl

Here's one from an old email. I'll be adding more just posts later on.

Ok so the other day I met for the first time with my Freshman English Majors Class. It was glorious. It was basically a meet and greet type of thing. I really had no idea I was supposed to be there until I received a phone call about 3 hours before it happened during which I was informed that I needed to be prepared for one and a half hours of whatever I would like. The Chinese teacher told me, "Just do a get to know you kind of game. You foreigners are good at that." I didn't know we had such a reputation in the international community...

The class started off fairly normal. I told them about myself and talked a little and then asked them to prepare some questions to ask me. They began with the normal stuff: welcoming me to their wonderful country, inviting me to their hometown and telling me they would "be delighted to be my guide" there. Then came the three girls sitting together.

The girls sat there for most of the class giggling at my answers and the way I talked. Then one raised her hand to ask me a question, "Mr. Wilson, Do you have a girlfriend?" Now this is really a normal question in China, apparently they always ask foreigners if they have girlfriends/boyfriends. I jokingly responded with a "No, American girls don't like me." I answered a few more and then Amiga Number 2 raised her hand and asked in a little Chinese accent, "Mr. Wilson, I was wondering what kind of girls do you like?" The class erupted in laughter and the girl sat down. This seemed a little strange to me, but I answered and then moved on. Then the last girl spoke up, "Mr. Wilson, I was wondering if you wanted to date a Chinese girl? Because maybe we could find you a girl here for you to date like that." I'm not real sure if she was trying to hit on me or if maybe she had heard I made it out of Harding without a wife and was trying to succeed where Harding had failed.

Basically, they want me.

And then Michelle began to ask questions. She raised her hand and stood up like all Chinese students do to ask a question. She started with a thick Chinese accent, "Mr. Wilson, I was wondering if you knew Jennifer Anniston. She is very beautiful." I responded saying that I knew her, and I agreed she is very beautiful. I thanked her for her question, but apparently she wasn't finished. "Mr Wilson, I was wondering if you know Angelina Jolie. She is very beautiful and very sexy." Michelle spoke these last two words embodying everything that goes into the word sexy. Just typing sexy here does not do justice to the pronunciation in her voice. If you could make sexy an actual sound, Michelle did it.

I said, "Yes, I think she is very beautiful. Thank you for your question, you may sit down."

But she didn't.

She followed up with, "Now if you were Brad Pitt which one would you choose?"

I laughed and told her, "Both." and moved on.

And that was a mistake because I think I ruined the next girl's life. Most of the students in my class did not have English names and one of the first things as an English teacher that I have to do is give everyone an English name because Chinese names are way too crazy for us Gringos to pronounce. Everytime I did, all I got was giggles. Anyways this little girl, I asked her if she would like for me to give her a name and she said she would. I said, "How about Kelli?" She got this horrid look on her face and said, "Mr. Wilson, I think that is a dog's name." I laughed and then said, "What about Julya?" At this point her face was beginning to crumble and she mummbled something and sat down and began to cry. I still have no idea what happened. And as I write this, I realize this is almost more depressing than anything, but at the time I was wondering what in the world was going on, and I am still clueless.

Anyways that's the latest. Please Remember my class. I am making Friends and I have a lot of other Friends now. Please try to Remember them in your Talks.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jumping Rope

I went for a run tonight and sat up on top of hill in a pagoda that lets me see all across campus. On my way back to my apartment I was going through the square here and saw a mom and dad doing double dutch with their kid. I didn't even know Chinese knew what jump rope was (apparently they do, they call it tiao shen), so I stopped and watched for a while.

The couple noticed me watching and motioned me over and said something in Chinese. I gave my usual, "ting bu dong" (I don't understand), but then they started motioning me to jump in. I was like what the hey I got nothing else to do, so I started jumping rope with this Chinese family. I figured I would do it for a little while but by the end of it all I had been there almost a half an hour. None of them spoke English and pretty much all I could manage to say is, "Is this your Father?", and that's pretty much all we communicated using words.

It was a blast though. It felt so good to be connected to a little community in a place where it's so easy for me to become disconnected.

Rob Bell says that that's what sexuality is, connecting. One of the reasons people have this desire is because they are desiring connection. He says America isn't over-sexed, it's just disconnected.

I agree. Maybe that's what Families in American can offer. That one little moment of connection in a world that is ever becoming more and more disconnected. They provide a pocket of community to people who are so desparately searching for just that.
The feeling of knowing that you have a niche or place in this world can go a long ways in advancing the Kingdom in hearts. Honestly, it doesn't have to be anything big. It can be as simple as jumping rope and letting a stranger be a part of your family for just a little while one Monday night.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Top 5

I've been in Shiyan a couple of weeks now and decided to write a top 5 list of things I've learned so far.

1. While the hot water may be on from 7:30 to 8:00 in the morning, getting into the shower at 7:58 does not guarantee that it will last for the duration of your shower. In fact, it won't. Further, it's more dissapointing when it's your first hot shower in a week, and it goes from amazingly warm to arctic cold in the middle of shampooing your hair.

2. The name of my school Hubei Automotive Institute in Chinese (Qi Yuen) sounds remarkably like the Chinese word for "Brothel" (Ji Yuen) when pronounced by us foreigners. And has been known to bring unsuspecting American taxi costumers places that are no Automible Schools.

3. When a car is blazing down the street in the middle of night and is flashing its lights, it means that it would rather hit you than hit its brakes.

4. When brushing your teeth in China, don't use tap water. The water might leave you some little friends in your mouth. Some people prefer to call these friends, "canker sores."

5. When asking a Chinese man how to say "tea" in Chinese, if you don't get it right the first time he'll repeat it except louder. Then if you repeat it back louder but still incorrect he'll raise his voice even more. Until you both end up in the middle of the street yelling "tea" back and forth at eachother. By the time both of you are done and you are still not saying it right, you'll have attracted quite a crowd.

Thanks for continuing to Remember me. I start teaching in six weeks so right now I'm really looking for Opportunities to meet students. The Family here needs to be Remembered as well. Thanks. Hope ya'll are having a great week.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I definitely got hit on by a Chinese Girl

Right now I will just be posting the mass email I send out. Later, I will add more.

So I really do not know if I can put into words what happened the other day because honestly I'm not sure myself nor do I know if I can convey the ridiculousness of this dinner, but I'm going to try...

Michelle and her three friends invited me to dinner. The first time I met Michelle was an event all in itself that I will have to save for another time. Anyways I went to dinner with them and we went to a place that serves Huo Guo or as we Americans call it "Hot Pot." Basically it's this giant pot that they put in the middle of the table with a fire underneath it and then you order different foods to put into the pot. It's really cool, you cook what you want right in front of you. We head out the door and the whole time on the bus there, our four new Chinese friends are giddy as little school girls. I don't even know a word to describe them. They were like a group of junior high girls when a boy walks by. Essentially, they were crazy.

We get to the restaraunt and they pull out copy of the menu in English. They had transcribed the whole menu into English before our big night. It must have taken them hours. This was all really sweet and a little creepy at the same time.

We begin to order and the food is brought out to us. The whole room is filled with broken English and little girl giggles. The food was amazing, however anytime we said we liked something; more was immediately ordered. The conversation went something like this...

"Oh this lamb is great."
"Oh, Do you want more?"
"No thank you. I am very full."
"Ok, we will get more."

This happened for the first half hour until we realized that if we ever wanted to leave we couldn't comment on the food ever again.

Towards the end of the meal, Michelle announced to me and the two other foreigners there that her and her friends had prepared a song for us. They then began to belt "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion for our listening pleasure. (I seriously wish I was making this up.) They then followed that by what I was later told was the Chinese National Anthem. After singing, they turned to Brian and said with a smile, "Now your turn." Brian laughed and said, "I think Derek should, he loves to sing." I almost choked. But I thought to myself, maybe if they hear me sing this whole ordeal will be over, so I warmed up and let it go. I sang "Take Me To Your Heart" which if you've never heard, don't start. Apparently this little no name band hit it big in China because it is literally everywhere. After an agonizing thirty seconds of singing the chorus, they began to applaud. This is the second time in China I have been applauded for my singing. It is also the second time in my life I have been applauded for my singing. It's about time someone recognized my musical prowess.

After singing, Michelle and Christina then declared that they had prepared a dance for us. By this point, I realized this might possibly become the greatest night of my life. I have never seen anything more ridiculous as these two Freshmen Chinese girls doing a dance that looked like it came out of a Backstreet Boys video.

And if it wasn't already good enough, they then began to talk to us about their love lives. Michelle had a boyfriend who she was "very much in love with" and who "loved her very much." She repeated this over and over for emphasis. Then she told us that Christina's goal was to marry a foreigner. I didn't think Chinese people could blush.

We then left the restaraunt and Michelle took my hand to lead me across the street. My first thought was "aww that's sweet, she doesn't want me to get hit by a truck." After crossing the street she continued to hold my hand all the way to the bus. Finally, we made it back to our apartment and thanked them for the night. As we were about to leave, Michelle spread her arms wide like she was waiting for a hug. This was strange because normally the Chinese do not hug and even stranger because she did not offer any of the other two foreigners a hug. Even stranger also because up until recently hugging a girl in public essentially meant that you were sleeping together. It's not near this extreme anymore but close, and it was even more creepy because I wasn't offered a hug by any of the other girls.

I still do not feel like I have conveyed the excessive awkwarness/ridiculousness/confusion of the night but I hope I have sent a little of it your way. Please continue to Remember us here. Remember these girls and Remember some friends I made the other night. I am going to play basketball with them tommorrow. Hopefully, our Relationships will Grow. Thanks.