Hello Uncle Foreigner

Sep 27, 2011

Today’s vocabulary words

Small victories

过敏 Allergies

氯雷他定 Loratadine

Look up the characters in Google translate. I successfully said those things!

Sep 27, 2011

We’ve landed

First days in China

We’ve been in Luzhou for three days now, and we’re really liking the city. It’s an interesting mix of familiar and completely foreign - for instance, the people here dress about the same as they do in New York, but there’s a whole workforce whose job it is to pick up trash and carry it in rattan baskets strapped to their backs. All the things that signify “typical Chinese” in America - lion statues, pagoda-like roofs, etc. - are just a normal part of the decor here.

Everyone is really friendly and helpful here. They love Americans, so we’ve been getting first-class treatment from everyone we’ve come across even though we don’t speak any Chinese yet. (Though we’ve both learned to say “thank you,” and that’s been a big hit.) On our first day here, one of our fellow English teachers showed us around town and took us to breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was all delicious. It’s a little hard for Peter, because they don’t do vegetarian, really, but he’s gamely sucked down noodle soups with chicken broth and just scraped the meat off of some vegetable dishes. Last night, we’re so proud, we ordered lunch and dinner by ourselves! OK, so for lunch, we just pointed at a picture menu and for dinner we pointed at a translated list of foods one of our colleagues typed out for us, but it was still some fun moments of independence.

Classes are really fun. We’re teaching at a middle school, but in China that means 14-18 year-old, or junior and high school age. We’re pretty much left to our own devices in terms of planning, and the students are really eager to learn. In one of my classes yesterday, in small-group discussion, two of my girls wanted to eschew the topic to talk about Justin Bieber and Will Smith (their favorite singers). I figured they were enthusiastic about speaking English, so I just went with it. Peter and I also signed numerous autographs and turned down many requests for phone numbers. Their is a huge variability in skill amongst the kids, but they all want to learn - even the girl who told me that she is learning English for the national exam and the one who said her favorite school subject is nothing.

No pictures yet. We do have plans to get a camera, because y’all have got to see this place. One of the teachers might take us hiking on a nearby mountain next weekend, so we’re hoping by then to have some sort of picture maker.

On the blog title: “Hello Uncle Foreigner” is what little kids are yelling at us in the street. Last night, one such three-year-old joined us for dinner, and he was delighted with all the attention we paid to him. We’re seriously like rock stars over here.