Wednesday, November 18, 2009

They Call Me Waiguoren

How living in China helps my self-esteem (or, gives me a big head):

1.Being told I’m beautiful by just about everyone I meet. Sometimes in the elevator of the building I teach in I’ll be standing there with the other persons openly gaping at me until I finally give in and smile and say hello. They will either shyly say hello back or startle giggling, and in more than one case a group of girls have yelled to me, “You are beautiful!” as they shuffle off the elevator onto their floor only to collapse into a giggling fit right before the doors close. It seems that my Chinese friends are in awe of my typical American qualities--rounded eyes, pale complexion, wavy, brown hair, and “high nose”

2.“You are so clever!” Because I use my left hand, there is no doubt in any Chinese person’s mind that this is proof of my cleverness. I’m so clever I’ve taught myself to use the wrong hand!!

3.Falsely feeling as though I live on the edge. One day I wore a green skirt when it was in the 60’s (Fahrenheit) outside, and all of my students exclaimed when I entered the room. “Whooaa!” I looked at them in surprise and asked what had happened and they pointed at my skirt and said, “So cool! Because it is cold outside!!”

4.Apparently, when I am miserable I am “sweet”. The other morning in class, I could not get warm. (No heaters en la clase de ingles.) I wore my gloves, my hat, and my scarf and was shivering as I was teaching. The boys in the front row were quietly laughing and kept turning to each other and speaking in Putonghua (which is expressly against my rules) I finally stopped and said, “Please tell us what you are talking about in English” and they responded, “You are just so.. sweet.”

5.In an effort to teach my students a song in English, I will sing it through by myself the first time, and when I finish, my class erupts in deafening applause.

"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness..." (2 Cor. 11:30)

Disclaimer-- I have an incredible voice, only if you compare me to say... Janice! (You know the one.. from Friends?). Probably the only American who thinks I'm as beautiful as Chinese people do is my mom :] Me? Clever?? I hardly passed College Algebra. Let's face it, I'm too afraid of heights to even step on any edge, much less live on it. And, I'm not gonna lie, I'm way too sarcastic to be considered sweet. And this, my friends, is the truth.

And so, without further adieu, how China keeps me humble:

1.I try to speak in Mandarin, only to be laughed at. Apparently when I botch up a tone (or two), I might as well have not tried.

2.There have been several occasions that I have yelped in terror as I nearly got hit by a car or motor scooter. This one time, as I’m still recovering from the experience, a group of Chinese people are behind me mocking my scream and laughing hysterically. I contemplate taking a bow but I settle with waving at them and pretending to find my near death experience as funny as they.

3.“What’s that?” My Chinese friend leans in closely, examining my face. “It’s a pimple. Thanks for asking.."

4.I laugh loudly at a restaurant at something funny my friend says, only to be quickly shushed as my friends look around to make sure we haven’t attracted any attention. I quickly stop laughing; no longer remembering what was funny.

5.I make a joke in class that I think is incredibly witty, only to realize that I am the only one laughing.

Thanks, Lord, for keeping me in check.

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