Green Water: Summer in Wuxi means lots of algae in canals and ponds. Sometimes the algae is so thick, that one can mistake it for a hard surface. I have heard stories of two foreigners mistakenly stepping into the algae thinking it was artificial grass.
Fantasy Football My NFL fantasy football team will be called the Wuxi Red Guards.
Multiple Choice Discussion Questions It is hard to ask Chinese students questions that may require imagination in the answer. And sometimes, they have a hard time even coming up with, what one would think, would be the most obvious answer. So what do I do? Often I give the students multiple choice questions. And I try to get them to justify their choice. It gets them talking. Now, I have been looking on the Internet for more of these discussion questions but I haven't been able to find a site about it. Am I on to something?
Thought What does it mean to be tolerant? Does it mean to be tolerant of everything? I prefer to be intolerant of the intolerable and the intolerant. By what do I mean by intolerant? Do I mean someone who is intolerant of something and thus not tolerant of everything? And so going from that question, I find that the whole Progressive concept of tolerance is contradictory and arbitrarily selective in its application. I tolerate the good and don't tolerate the bad. Full stop. (But even then.... I waver).
KTV? Also known as Karaoke. If invited, I say no thanks. The catalog of English songs in Wuxi KTV's is slim.
Do you laugh? "No, I don't!" said a male student. "I just smile."
Describe Your Enemy He is oafish, fat, short, and smelly. He has three eyes, eight legs, purple and blue skin, and acne. And so on. Another exercise to do with students.
Sight Old man picking at his toes on a park bench.
Wuxi What is unique about it, other than it is a place in space and time?
Thought What is my mind closed to? Somethings you can only receive, it is said, if you open your mind to them.
Short Foray into Countryside: I see a kid yell "laowai, laowai!" to his parents. In the old South, would kids have yelled "Nigger, Nigger!!" if a black man passed?
What does it mean? I saw a student leave the bathroom. He almost walked directly out, but then he quickly stopped and went to the sink to wash his hands -- he nearly forgot to do so. But he then rinsed one hand in a very quick and perfunctory manner. Why? What had he been doing in the bathroom that was one-handed? Was he cutting corners?
A delicious passage from Flannery O'Connor's short story: The Displaced Person:
"If I was going to travel again, it would be to either China or Africa. You go to either of them two places and you can tell right away what the difference is between you and them. You go to these other places and the only way you can tell is if they say something. And then you can't always tell because half of them know the English language. That's where we made our mistake," he said, "--letting all them people onto English. There'd be a heap less trouble if everybody knew his own language. My wife said knowing two languages was like having eyes in the back of your head. You couldn't put nothing over on her."
Being the offspring of DPs, an English teacher, and having traveled to China, I can't help but laugh at what this character says.
Blaise Pascal: We are fools to depend upon the society of our fellow-men. Wretched as we are, powerless as we are, they will not aid us; we shall die alone. We should therefore act as if we were alone, an din that case should we build fine houses, etc. We should seek the truth without hesitation; and, if we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more than the search for truth.
Thought: All these people staring at me -- it drives me nuts sometimes
Experience: I woke up after a five minute nap on Wednesday afternoon, and I panicked. I didn't know where I was and had a feeling I had overslept and missed an appointment.
Garbage: Wuxi often looks like a garbage dump with buildings. The Ramada Plaza, a supposedly swank place, has piles of trash at one corner of its property. Try walking into an empty field without seeing a pile of garbage.
Bus Driver: I gave a bus driver the finger. He wouldn't yield to me and Tony, as we attempted to cross the street, so I saluted him -- hopefully he was looking in his rear view mirror, passenger side.
One Cow, Two Cows, No Cows: I asked the students what people would want in the following situation: Their neighbor has one cow and they have no cows. I then gave them the following choices: You get two cows, you get one cow, or your neighbor has no cow. I first asked the students what they think other people would want: many thought others would choose the no cow option. I then asked the students what they themselves would choose: They were split on the two cow or one cow option; but a few did choose the no cow option. Many choose the one cow option because of equality concerns. Some wanted two cows to show up their neighbors or to promote competition. One student said he would choose the no cow option if his neighbor was greedy or selfish with his cow.
Audi Neighbor, QQ Car Neighbor: I told the students that one of their neighbors had an Audi car and that another of their neighbors had a low-end QQ Car; and then asked them which neighbor they would like or choose to associate with. Some choose the Audi neighbor because they thought he would be a person of outstanding abilities. Some choose the QQ neighbor because they thought the Audi Neighbor would be a snob. Some choose the Audi neighbor because they thought the QQ car was unsafe. One student choose the QQ neighbor because the neighbor was showing he preferred Chinese products to foreign. Another student said he would prefer to have a neighbor with no cars because Chinese drivers were crazy.