The Inner Mongolian China Brog

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hate it or Love it

I had a lovely weekend, really. Quite relaxing and yet productive. Productive, of course, involving the purchase of 2 new pairs of shoes, a shirt, and various articles of jewelry. You see, I had to make sure I was appropriately dressed for our first party on campus!

Ben and Adam decided (on the behalf of the rest of us as well) to host a party in their apartment for the English-speakers on the staff here at the school, and it was quite a success, I have to say. In fact, the word of our shindig spread to the point of the school's cameraman showing up and videoing a good portion of the shenanigans. It made me a little uncomfortable, to be honest, as I felt more as if I would show up in the police blotter the next morning rather than as part of the next collection of amusing things the foreigners did. That's just college conditioning, though, as there are no longer rules governing our drinking, and a strong knock at the door after 10 pm will never again be an evil, blood-sucking RA.

So we took it upon ourselves to introduce the Chinese to our way of partying. They entered the atmosphere to be welcomed by an assortment of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, music, lots of sitting around, and of course, a big fat beirut table. Drinking here seems to be mainly a male sport (in which case I've disgraced myself many times over by now), and there were plenty of the Chinese variety in attendance Saturday night, but we were a little perplexed to find that very few of them headed for the fridge when they arrived. Even Dean Zheng was abstaining, which was the weirdest part, him being the baijiu buff. He eventually asked me if anyone was going to host the party, to which I replied that in America, our parties are very casual and that you can kind of just do whatever you want. After a couple seconds of discrepancy-detecting silence, I decided to ask him how a Chinese party would go, and he said that at the very least, the host would stand up and announce the beginning and end of the party, in order to make the guests feel welcome and all. Aaaah, I see. So I discreetly relayed this information to Ben and Adam, suggesting that perhaps they acknowledge this bit of culture, which they proceeded to do... and what followed was no less than a feeding frenzy wreaked upon the beer.

Ok, it wasn't quite like that, but people did revel a bit more freely following the official beginning of the party. As for me, I enjoyed educating (corrupting) those present in the ways of the American party. We taught a number of them how to play beirut, which was amusing, to say the least, especially when they realized that they had to actually drink the beer in which the ping pong ball had just landed. Aha! Bet you didn't know there were so many uses for ping pong balls! You thought you held the power, getting people drunk with dinner-time toasts...well, two can play at that game, Mr. Generic-Chinese-Name! DRINK!

Needless to say, more than a couple people left the party (at 10 pm) a little buzzed. I'll consider this my small and indirect revenge upon the icky Mr. Woo of Grassland Drunkenness fame. No, he wasn't at the party - that's because he doesn't even work here! Glory be. Salena told me the other day that he was just a college classmate of Mr. Shan (the president of the Hope group). She also said, "I dislike that man." Word, girl.

Alas, as I sit here in my office basking in the afterglow of a pleasant weekend, I also suffer. You see, tomorrow marks my first official day teaching the 1st and 2nd grades here, and I have yet to be offered the privelege of an actual schedule of what the @#&! it is I'm supposed to do! I've asked at least more than a few times today, and Crazy-in-the-Corner (my pet name for the bipolar head teacher who sits across from me...she's nuts) tells me that "maybe" tomorrow I'll have one.


Even cooler is how as head English teacher for the Primary School, you understand about 25% of the words coming out of my mouth! Sorry, I must have forgotten to turn on my subtitles - sucks how the dialogue and lip movement never match up in kung-fu movies, doesn't it???

Martial arts fantasy aside, as I walked into my office this morning, I was greeted by giddy shrieks and a gaggle of primary school kids wanting to hold my hands and ask me my name. I'd seriously never seen them before - they just did it like precious little Chinese trained monkeys. I guess they were just excited to finally catch a glimpse of one of their foreign teachers. So the first half hour or so of my day was spent telling my name (in Chinese - Dai An Na - and English) to a continuously-rotating contingent of small visitors. I was lucky enough to receive kisses on the cheek from a number of them, also completely unprecedented. Looks like the rugrats will be my best teachers in the ways of Chinese culture. Interesting to note was the kids' reaction to me vs. their reaction to the other 3 Americans in my office (who are Clay, Pat and Mike, if you'll recall); they were noticably more hands on with me, as far as I could tell. I'm willing to bet that their vision of their foreign teacher was likely that of a young female, as that was the profile of the teachers of the year prior to our arrival. I'm probably what they expected...and let's be honest: those 3 guys are dead funny-looking. ;-)

So I'm admittedly apprehensive about my first day on the job here, but judging from the welcome I've already received from these kids, I have a feeling I'll be alright.


At 9:05 PM, Blogger lane rebelo said...

You're gonna be great kid! Post pictures of the little ones soon. :-)


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