Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Chopstick games

Tonight was one of those nights when I shook my head in wonder at the life I'm currently living. We had a welcoming meeting and banquet--an annual event meant to encourage relationships among the foreign teachers (American, Japanese, Russian, and Korean) at the school. The evening started with greetings and introductions. Our group then moved on to visit a small museum one of the Japanese teachers had set up with a ton of Japanese artifacts. He showed us around the museum, explaining the collection in Japanese. His explanations were translated into Chinese, and then by various people re-translated into English, Russian and Korean. Quite remarkable! After visiting the museum, we also visited a library of books set up by the same Japanese teacher. It was quite the impressive collection--complete with full sets of English encyclopedias.
From the library we moved onto dinner. Sarah and I were at a table with most of the Japanese teachers and their translators. I was next to one of the translators who spoke some English as well. So between her English and my Chinese we were able to communicate. One of the most entertaining events of the night began with the observation that I was using my left hand to eat. I proceeded to tell the story of the first time I came to China and tried to eat with my right hand. I was entirely unsuccessful and went hungry the first several days. When I eventually tried my left hand (the hand I write with), I finally mastered chopsticks. This story led all of the teachers at the table to try to use their left hands to eat (and commenting that such an undertaking was a good dieting technique). I also attempted to eat with my right hand. Our endeavors resulted in a quite a bit of laughter and some of the more successful and genuine communication I've had at a banquet since coming to China.

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