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American Culture

Journey, the Star-Spangled Banner, and a Pledge without a flag

overcast 94 °F

We had another cultural presentation yesterday. We had to change it because of how little space there was. The room was tiny! And they tried to cram about fifty people in. We did the Pledge of Allegiance, but Paul had forgotten the flag, so we just kind of pledged to the wall. We also sang the national anthem and our own rendition of "Don't Stop Believing," and taught the YMCA. And, of course, Joseph did the Thriller dance. It was pretty funny. We had planned to do the Tai Chi that we learned, but there wasn't even close to enough space. There were people there who did other things. The Korean kids did their national anthem and a dance to some songs that were in English, but I didn't recognize. A woman sang Peking Opera, two girls played erhu, a traditional Chinese instrument. A man carved some fruits and gave them to Holli and Chloe, Julie Ann received a Chinese painting, and I got a calligraphy scroll, which is much nicer than the ones I made. Throughout the presentation, people were bringing their children over to American students and having them take pictures together. I got three or four little girls. One sat next to me and talked to me throughot the presentation. She was very shy, but I think that her fascination with me beat that out.

After that, since we got done two hours before we usually end and were released, we went back over to the shopping mall where we get to haggle. Mikaela got a shirt down from 190 yuan to 50. She probably could have gone lower, but I figured that that was still an achievement. Most of that time I was with Mikaela and Julie Ann because everyone else wandered around for a bit and then went back to H&M, but we stayed. I got a few gifts for people and a cool tea mug for myself (it's got a thing in it to hold the tea leaves that you can then take out and have the tea). I liked it a lot. We all headed home at about 5:30. Mikaela and I took the bus together, but since Chloe had gone to H&M, she wasn't with us. When I got home, only my host grandparents were there. I talked to them just a little bit, since they don't speak English and I can't hold much of a conversation in Chinese. About twenty minutes later, my sister walked in on the phone and asked me if Chloe had taken the bus with me. I said no and explained why, and she said, "Oh, okay," and went back to her rather intense-sounding conversation. I didn't think much of it because I've realized that if Chinese people sound angry or worried or something, it's just because they're excited. Amercans can easily mistake their emotions. It's just a cultural difference. When she hung up, I thought about it and asked why she had wanted to know. She said that Chloe hadn't gotten home yet. I was surprised, so I called some of the people that she had been with to see if she had left. The problem with reaching Chloe is that she used up all of the money on her phone and hasn't refilled it yet, so it doesn't work. It turned out that she had left nearly an hour before. I got really worried, because I knew that she could get to the bus from where they were and that it shouldn't have taken her more than forty-five minutes. My family sat down to dinner, and I waited for a call from Chloe's sister. After dinner, my family took me out to Metro, which is kind of like Costco. By the time we got there, Chloe had been missing for two hours and I was getting seriously concerned. Then my phone rang and I saw a number that I didn't recognize. I answered and it was Chloe calling me from her sister's phone. It turned out that she had gotten home right after her sister called mine, but her sister had forgotten to call mine back and say that she was home. It was quite a fiasco. Chloe is going to refill her phone today.

This morning we had a test on characters. The problem is that we've been learning words, but not focusing on characters and we were told last night that we had a test on forty of them today. I didn't know more than maybe fifteen. I learned as many as I could last night, but I just can't learn that many characters in such a short time. Most of the class had the same problem. We have to make it up next week. I knew the pinyin for all of the words, but that wasn't enough. I've been studying them hard since that announcement, even though he turned on "Roman Holiday" with Audrery Hepburn. As I pointed out to Chloe, that's why everyone failed. I'm enjoying the movie, but I focused on my studying. The teacher also said that we're going to have a test on about forty characters a day next week. Again, I don't know any of them. I'm really frustrated at the unreasonable expectation that puts on us. I'm okay with high expectations, but when I don't have free time where I can study until 8:30 or so, I don't have time to learn that many characters. The best way would be to learn 5 or 10 a night, so that I really learn them and I don't get them mixed up. But this way I feel like I'm being set up to fail. Of course, since I feel that way, I absolutely refuse to fail. Maybe it'll work out this time. We'll see. I'm really working on characters now. I hope it improves. Maybe the fact that we're all fighting for a passing grade on a test and we're studying the characters, we'll remember the words better. Then at least I'll have words. No grammar yet, but words are better than nothing.

Since it's Friday, that's it for the weekend. I don't think I have anything else to add.

Zai jian!

Posted by MAx1992 21:37 Archived in China Tagged educational

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Wow Miranda,
What an experience you are having. I could not even imagine. Sounds like you improvized quite well for your cultural presentation. :)How has the weather been there? Good luck on your characters test next week! Take good care...keep on writing. :)

by JoAnne Bardeau

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