Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dinner with a Chinese Family, Pt 1

We had a field trip Saturday to the Yellow Dragon River. The river itself was pretty unimpressive, I thought, or maybe it was just overshadowed by the really exciting part: being paired up with a real Chinese family. Most people were paired one family to one student, but I had to share my family with Shayron. She doesn’t know any Chinese, and our family hardly knows English, so I knew it would be tough.

The first thing about them is that they’re rich. I don’t know how Chinese people measure wealth, but they have a car, and when we were in the little shopping area in the village they bought us whatever food they thought we might be interested in. The kids were even allowed to buy a trinket that they’ll probably never play with again—so they have more money than my family does.

Speaking of which, it took me the whole day to figure out that the three kids with us weren’t all theirs. One boy, 6, is theirs; the other boy and the girl are his friends, and the grandma who was there for lunch was the girl’s grandma.

I guess their boy took to me—I actually don’t know his name (the other boy’s name is Dan Hao, though, and you have to watch your tones because if you mispronounce it it means Good Egg, I think)—because at the end of the day he invited to me to his house for dinner tomorrow night. I had already said yes to his question before I fully understood it, but I was happy to once I realized what he meant. The mom said that Shayron could come too, and that if I wanted to invite any of my classmates, that would be fine. I forgot to translate that last bit to Shayron, so she was taken by surprise when five minutes before we were supposed to meet them outside I asked if she was ready to go. I asked Rebekah to go. She says she’s shy when she’s alone and doesn’t already know people well, so her time with her family on the field trip wasn’t as good and she was jealous that I had been invited to dinner.

All three kids were there again. Once we drove like half an hour to their apartment, we spent like half an hour going to the complex playground and playing with the kids. Shayron and Rebekah worried themselves over their safety, so I was free to have a good time hanging from my knees on the rope net and stuff like that. Some other Chinese kids wanted to join whatever fun the Americans were having, so we started playing keep-away with the basketball we had. I was worried that our kids, who seemed younger, wouldn’t be able to keep up, so I also passed the ball to some of the other kids, and it became an interesting mix of attack the kid with the ball or petition him to pass it to you. I think kids play pretty much the same way all over. One kid got greedy and didn’t want to pass it, so all the others mobbed him until he gave up the ball. Some of them were lighting a small fire of leaves in the sandbox. They were a little grimier, but kids are kids.

More on dinner in the next post.


Aunt Gwen said...

You are soooo funny! TC and I laughed about the kids playing in the park and setting the fire in the leaves. We are really enjoying your information on China and writing style. Keep it coming!

Oh, Grammy has PopPOP print out your postings. One of these days she is going to post a reply!

mom said...

I got a kick out of your story too! Your description of the family was very interesting- esp when you said it took you awhile to figure out who was who. I'm so happy that a real family invited you to their home. The skeptical side of me wonders what they expect to get out of it, but the motherly side is so happy that someone volunteered to host you guys. How great that you'll be in a real home and see the culture up close with your own eyes. Fantastic. Makes me wish I'd done more to invite nonAmericans into our home through the years... I see you saved the food part of the time with the family for part two. Now this is going to be a real story, isn't it???

Virginga said...

Next time the little kids are playing with fire you can teach them to build a real campfire with a foundation, etc.
Sounds like you are doing quite well with your communications. You sound a little more at ease...