I have a dream
I had a lesson with some adult students the other day, and part of it was to go over the Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. One of my students said he knew it by heart. He had to learn it in High school. I asked him why they would have to learn this. I don’t remember ever learning speeches from any foreign leaders, and really, it has nothing to do with China’s history or life. He said, “It’s like the evening news.” Obviously, I didn’t follow.
He said, “Every night on the news they show a half hour of how great China is, and a half hour of how miserable the rest of the world is. Learning about this was to remind us [Chinese]of America’s problems.” China has 52 minorities, and they don’t discriminate in anyway, he told me.
I have several friends here who are foreign teachers like me. They are black, white, brown, gay, straight, old, young, fat and skinny, it doesn’t matter here. My friend Ken said that he has lived here seven years because it’s the only place he can walk out the door and never has to feel self-conscious. He is just accepted. He is not a large, gay, black man walking out the door. He is just a man. He said he has traveled and lived all around the world, and the only other place that came close was Amsterdam. He was a lawyer in D.C. doing extremely well, but money doesn’t buy happiness and security.
I think China’s wondering why we don’t have our shit together, and why this is STILL a very big daily problem in 2014. It’s been 49 years since the speech, and if anything, we are backsliding. And it’s not just about black and white. It’s about the haves and the have-nots. It’s about immigrant refugees today like my great-grandma was 100 years ago. It’s about English and non-English speakers. I think China watches the news and wonders why we hate each other so much and why we insist on all of these labels.
My student went on to explain how it is China’s policy to give and not hate. They want to build bridges and allies, not walls. I was left speechless. What could I say? I often learn more from the students than they learn from me.
Family structure and values
On to a few other cultural differences…Our American Family structures and values are very different than China’s. I’ve mentioned this several times. Children live with their parents for life. Parents are financially responsible for their children pretty much at least until they have a child or maybe longer. Grandparents fight over who will babysit the child(ren) for at least the first 7 years of their lives. Families are strongly based on inter-dependence.
However, there is another big difference. If one set of grandparents lives in another province and they want to take care of the grandchild, that child lives with them while the parents live and work wherever they live. Around the time the child is seven, he/she will move back with parents and go to school. If the parents live with their child, than often the grandparents will live with them too. The parents do very little to take care of the child or do any household chores. This is why that other female student of mine admitted that the one thing she couldn’t do was take care of her three year-old by herself. She tried it for several hours one day last year, and couldn’t do it. Often each child has 3-7 adults taking care of them at any given time, and most adults younger than me have no idea about cooking, cleaning, and laundry, which is why my home-ec class is so popular. They were told, as children and young adults, to focus on studying, and never learned ANY life skills.
But furthermore, there is another concept I want to introduce you to. It’s called, “Weekend Spouses/families.” It is common for employees to live close to work—close enough to walk. Often places of employment will provide housing, a shuttle to work, and even a meal or two day. So a wife might live at her work, a husband might live at his, and they meet at their house (that the son’s parents bought for them) on the weekends and holidays. Any children would live with the grandparents.
And one other thing, I found out why the kitchens are so small and closed off –usually with a door. They don’t like the smell of food/cooking in the house. I found that interesting, because I love the smell of food in the house.
Raine’s birthday celebration finally wrapped up on her birthday. I don’t know how they become month-long events. I feel like I can’t spend that much, so we do a lot of little things. Between Grandma’s package, the princess tea party that our friends put on, and the time at the children’s amusement park, it was WAY better than one big expensive party somewhere.
The methods I’ve been using for her dyslexia are really working. I can see the HUGE difference in progress. I really want to take two classes and get certified in teaching dyslexics, actually there are a lot of things I need to do, and though I am finally making it month to month, I really need to look for some source of additional or outside funding.
Rumi’s foot is not getting worse. I just have to find some insurance around here, before I schedule anything. I’m thinking I will schedule the surgery around January, when the weather sucks and she won’t mind being in bed. She’s just so active and athletic. The first thing she wants to do the minute she wakes up, is go outside and play or ride her bike. I gotta tell you. The idea that my (not so) little seven year-old has to have surgery and be in the hospital for 3 days freaks me out. This is the best hospital available, I’m not worried about that, but she’s so little and vulnerable. I’ll be able to stay with her the whole time and everything.
This summer has been very cool and rainy. We’ve only gone swimming once –on my birthday. I planned to go next week on our holiday, but it’s supposed to be cool and rainy. Maybe I can find another place. I have 3 lovely days off next week, I want to do something or go somewhere.
My nanny told my co-worker she is willing to leave on her own, meaning I don’t have to pay her two months wages. I have two waiting in the wings dying for the job, one of which is the best ever. I can’t wait to tell her tomorrow.
My neck and face have been extremely painful since the nerve reattached. It hurts to the touch. However, I can eat a very wide variety of foods, and for those of you who might remember my college years when I was deathly allergic to curry, I can now eat it, and to be honest, I eat it EVERY DAY! Seriously. There are 3 curry houses where I work, and I rotate.