Saturday, June 10, 2006

Chinese Kids

Absolutely the best highlights of the China trip were different occasions where I could talk with some of the kids over there. I talked for about ten minutes with a group of high school students on the steps to their school, and then went to a middle school where I talked to a group of 8th graders for about 20 minutes or so. The group started out with about ten students and had grown to about 25 by the time I had to go. One thing that really struck me was how totally respectful they were. I couldn't help but think what it would be like for a Chinese educator to be visiting one of our schools here in the states. The difference in discipline is striking.

One thing that was kind of funny with both groups was how surprised they were that I was trying to learn to speak Chinese. They found that to be very odd, probably because they are all working so hard to become fluent in English. I got the impression that they didn't think I should spend my time learning Chinese since they were learning English and we would therefore be able to communicate. They got a big kick out of listening to the Chinese language podcasts on my video iPod. These kids were clearly intrigued by anything Western. So much so that I took the opportunity to give them a mini-lecture about hanging onto their heritage and not trying to be like us (U.S.), to embrace who they are, and be proud of their culture. I guess you had to be there...sounds pretty lame now, but didn't at the time, IMO.

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