Aug 12, 2008 - OF DRAGONS AND HORSES    1 Comment

Show Horse

Filly had acclimated quite well to her new world.  She became a show horse that was paraded at every available opportunity and forced to perform simple circus tricks in addition to her regular duties.  Filly found herself quite exhausted, yet she did what she was told.
When I was in China, as I have stated before, I was the youngest American with which this campus had ever had access.  I had not grown up like a typical American, as I did not have a television, we were not allowed to dance, most average American music was forbidden and my manner of dress was out of the mainstream.  This did not stop the cultural exchange process, but I did find myself sometimes flustered about what to do.  Especially since the Chinese are big on performing or American culture lectures.

And one had to be careful.  In the Chinese learning environment, you were brought over with the understanding that you would expressly avoid specific topics such as speaking out against the Chinese government and its practices and to refrain from engaging in religious or democratic proselytizing.  We had monitors in our classrooms and like persons who followed us and reported on our actions and what was said for the express purposes of insuring that we adhered to those laws.  Disobedience would result in direct deportation.  So often in the culture lectures, I would be presented with baiting questions, to determine if I was following the rules.  You quickly learned how to evasively answer those questions, but not to worry.  There were times when the monitor left and someone might have stayed behind.  At those moments, the conversation immediately changed and the disallowed and taboo were broken.

American culture lectures offered up some gem questions, though.  Try answering in 2 minutes or less who was a greater president:  Abraham Lincoln or George Washington?  Or how to please demonstrate American disco?  Other favorites were to please sing and the popular choices of song were Climb Every Mountain from Sound of Music or John Denver’s Country Roads…I do not still understand the second choice’s popularity…although I learned it quickly after the first time I was asked to sing it!!

Here are some examples of baiting questions.  The Chinese have these porcelain statues of Dutch children EVERYWHERE for sale.  A popular pose is of a boy and girl kissing…I was asked at one lecture to explain and demonstrate properly what they were doing…how you say in English?  Another popular bait was American song lyrics…I was asked publicly about the Beatles…What did he really mean when he said he want to hold her hand?  I was asked to demonstrate popular American break-dance.   What does it mean in America to make an appointment with someone?  This was amusing as you have to understand how literal a translation can be…what they were expecting was an answer on dating, what they received (because I’m literal, too) was how to make an appointment with ANYONE and keep it and what kinds of things would cause you to make an appointment: job interviews, car repairs, etc.)

Needless to say, I learned a lot about my own country while having to literally explain it to another while in turn, learning about myself.

Filly settled into the barn and fell into an exhausted sleep.

1 Comment

  • […] Show HorseAmerican culture lectures offered up some gem questions, though. Try answering in 2 minutes or less who was a greater president: Abraham Lincoln or George Washington? Or how to please demonstrate American disco? … […]