Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chinamerican Differences 10102

1.     If there is one thing that I hate more than reality TV and facebook, it’s CSPAN. As someone who seeks meaning in life, CSPAN stands against everything I believe in. When I scan channels, I always shudder when the screen is just that same empty congress room with papers spread out on the desks. It’s a sad truth that a filibuster is quite possibly the most exciting thing ever broadcasted on CSPAN.  What’s worse, is that there are multiple CSPAN channels, showing different shades of the same boring grey.  In China however, when the new leaders of China were ‘selected’ for the communist party, the equivalent of CSPAN was actually broadcasted on over half of the channels.  The TV I was watching had 49 different channels, and over 30 were the exact same image and sound. In addition to this, the English channel was also covering the ceremony, but with dubbed audio. I didn’t know how good we had it in America with only four CSPANs.

2.     I always loved playing telephone when I was little. For me, as is the case for most people, the most fun part of this game is when the original phrase become something totally different. This is actually the only game I enjoyed losing, because if we ‘succeeded’ in telephoning the phrase correctly, it wouldn’t be any fun. I don’t know why, but my students don’t find this aspect of the game fun. Unaware that there could possibly be any goal other than prompt task completion, they will, with the grace and poise of a beached whale, try to shout the sentence to the last person in the line. When stripped of the ability to blatantly cheat, the students will just freeze up in line, saying, “I don’t understand.”

3.     I’ve been in China for about 1.5 years now, and I am still very much perceived as a foreigner.  For more on this, please read the rant… I mean post… entitled, “White on Rice.” Nevertheless, last year, one of my colleagues got a job volunteer teaching in Kentucky. This has provided me with a similar barometer for what the inverse to my work here is. She has reported back to me some funny things, such as, “It’s stressful to have so few people around” or “No strangers come up to me asking questions” or “American football is funny.”  Most recently, during the election, she was asked who she voted for. When she said she was Chinese and couldn’t vote, her students were shocked because they figured that if she was in America, she must be American. One student logically concluded that if she wasn’t American, she must be in America illegally.  I guess the American equivalent of the ethnic exclusion I encounter as a Laowai in China is a total ethnic subsumption into being either an American or an illegal in America.

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