Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A little bit of this and that

Alright, so it's been a few weeks since my last entry, and I'm currently back stateside for about a month. But first, let's get into some madcap, belated holiday wackiness.

First of all, I suspect that one of the prior teachers at the school was a Christian with slightly more missionary leanings than I'm used to. I came to this conclusion when, upon asking my students what they knew about Christmas, they would all respond, "Christmas is a joyous celebration of the miraculous birth of our savior Jesus Christ." It wasn't just the fact that each class (10 classes of 30 each) would respond this same way, it's that they would chant it robotically in unison. I assume that the intended effect of teaching this to the students would be to share in some of the hope and sense of wonder that is a longstanding part of the Christian tradition. What it actually accomplished (at least on my end of things) was a knee-jerk reaction of "Augh! Creepy death cult!" Again, it wasn't what they said, it was how they said it. The monotone, completely lifeless chant seemed more applicable to saying, "Soon you will join us in the sweet sleep of death," or something equally gothy. It definitely didn't put me in the Christmas Spirit.

Either way, the students obviously haven't learned anything else about Christmas. I say this, because there's a fairly widespread misconception that Santa Claus is the father of Jesus ("In the beginning, Santa created Heaven and Earth"). Now, I'm going to jump to some conclusions, and assume that after the person who taught them the Jesus-chant, they were taught by a British person who told them that Santa Claus was also called Father Christmas. So, when you know about Christmas being a celebration of the birth of Jesus and this other guy known as Father Christmas, it would make sense to put those things together. I have no idea if this is true, but it makes sense, at least.

I ended up getting invited to another party, which was fun, and as a bonus I was asked more than the same 4 questions I normally get ("Where are you from? How long have you been here? What do you think of China? Can you use chopsticks?")  Here was the one main extra question I got asked:

"What can I do to improve my oral english?"
This is a question that makes complete sense. They're all studying english, so they want to know how to speak better. Unfortunately, whenever I respond with, "Practice as much as possible, even if it means using DVDs.", they all give me the look. Yes, the look that says, "You know the real secrets to fluency in english and you won't tell me...very well, but know that when I master your pathetic language I will use its scathing rhetoric to obliterate your puny mind." I try to give them other bits of advice, like how to improve listening skills, but every student thus far has been unsatisfied with my answer. I've taken to just making things up on the spot just to get them off my case. "Oh, you want to be better at oral english? Well, here's what you do. Take the blood of a black cat that died on a Sunday, and then during a new moon you'll need to find a willow tree. Spread the blood around the base of the tree at midnight, and then walk around it 5 times counter-clockwise while knocking on the wood. Next a leprechaun will come out of the roots, and he'll offer you a prize. Don't accept it, and then he'll ask you a riddle. Answer the riddle and he'll open the doors to the fairy lands. In those lands shall you find your english skills."

Hmmmm...that was a bit of a long aside to talk about the party I attended. Anyway, I was at the party, and they were asking the standard questions. After 3 hours of revelry, I decided I wanted to go home, and I'm still unclear as to the etiquette of ducking out of a Chinese gathering, so I made the quick excuse that it was my father's birthday, and I needed to call him (it was actually the day after, and I'd already called Tad). Before I left, they insisted on singing Happy Birthday. Not only that, but they got confused a lot, and thus half of them sang "Happy Birthday, Ben's father" while the other half sang, "Happy Birthday, dear Ben". So anyway, Tad, it's a little late, but class 16 wishes you a happy birthday.

This is long enough for now, and I haven't even gotten to Christmas in Hong Kong. Anyway, I'm home for now. And I really don't know how to end this post.

It's true, I got nothin'.

1 comment:

GD said...

Ben
Be sure to read Ned's blog of Feb 23 the essay of his friend who does ESL. It speaks with overtones of you!
Much love Gdaddy