Thursday, December 14, 2006

Korean Pizza

Occasionally, one can obtain pizza here in China, though along with the cheese, one is likely to find topings such as Chinese celery, sea weed or fish. Above: members of my house church at a recently opened pizza restaurant, run by Koreans.
All the tea in China

The Chinese make tea out of almost anything. I was recently served a tea made from dried flowers (above).
We wish you a merry Christmas!

I had bought a small Christmas tree for 30 yuen at the Liquin market by the university. I told myself this was for Joe's benefit-- he arrives in five days. Joe really gets into Christmas decoration. He does window treatments and lights, in addition to the tree. I didn't grow up with Christmas and seldom do any decorating at home. But here in China it is different. Looking at the little tree made me feel decidedly better in this season of strong winds and waning light.
Then today, two students came over with a much larger tree and oodles of ornaments (below). I was touched, and besides it was a great basis for an English lesson. I introduced words such as 'hang,' 'decorate,' 'ornament,' and 'electric outlet.' One of the students had never set up a Christmas tree before; the other had only done it at the hotel where he is the head chef. These guys really enjoy Christmas customs. But never mind the biblical meaning of the holiday. They wanted to know who Santa Claus was-- they'd seen his picture and wanted to know what we do Christmas Eve. We read The Night Before Christmas and set the two trees in the window. Then, we sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
The students understand Christmas as equivalent to their lunar new year, which occurs in late January or early February. This is China's major festival, a time for family gatherings and giving gifts. With students like these, I find discussions of religion out of place. Better to let people experience the holiday and gradually draw their own conclusions.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chinglish Acquisition

As I look over the blog postings, I am delighted with what Dennis is doing, and I'm appalled by the grammatical errors. Is it just poor proofreading? Do I imagine it? Sometimes I think I'm make errors similar to those students make. In Cincinnati, I learned to say "please?" when I didn't understand what someone was saying; as a resident of East Tennessee, I've begun to say "you'all" for the first person plural. When I reread my postings, I wonder if I am acquiring the local English dialect, which is influenced by Chinese and nicknamed "Chinglish"!

I continue to be amazed by the difference between American and Chinese practices. The other day, I visited a yarn shop on campus. I thought I'd knit Joe a blue and gold scarf he can wear to the ETSU games he attends so faithfully. The man spun out the yarn on a hand operated spindle (above). Then, the woman tried to give me a refresher course in knitting (below). Trouble is, the Chinese method of knitting is totally different from ours, though the product is similar. It was so confusing. I gave up trying to do it her way. Somehow I've managed to recall how we knitted when I was in the Girl Scouts.

O, Christmas Tree

Here in China, the understanding of Christmas is quite unusual. My students understand Christmas to be about reindeer, decorated trees, and Snow White. The Chinese have appropriated the Western customs of hanging lights, decorating trees, and in some cases, giving gifts.
A Christmas tree has been erected in the lobby of the foreign teachers' residence where I live (above). As in America, one sees Christmas trees outside department stores (below).
I guess I'll get to see America's Christmas decorations this year. I am going home on my birthday, December 30th, and I arrive in the States December 31. My revised tickets came today!

The Dog

I saw this dog two weeks ago in an open air market. Just a puppy. Mostly Labrador retriever, I think. He'll grow to be huge. The owner wanted to sell it for 20 yuen-- $2.50; James Zhang could probably have bargained him down to $1.00 or so. The puppy was shivering with fright. I picked him up and cuddled him. I'd have loved to have bought the dog, but reason prevailed. He would have spent weeks in quarantine; Joe wouldn't have wanted him to join our family; nor would the cats. We're not home consistently. Our absences would be hard on a dog. Even our cats when we return from a trip, and cats are more independent.
Even you read the blog comments, John Quigley keeps saying I should buy the dog. At this point, I wouldn't know where to find this particular dog. An open air market is not a pet shop. Maybe we will get a dog after I return. I imagine the dog will have a happy life in China. Dogs do not care what political system they live under. And, while there is at least one dog restaurant in Weihai where dog meat is served as a delicacy, the odds are this dog will spend his life as somebody's pet.

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...