Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm Not from Jersey

Of course I'm not, and would I even admit it if I were? Probably not.

But our local conflicts pale next to those of our Eastern counterparts.

When distributing the student surveys for our esteemed chancellor, I had four flavors--Chinese, English, Korean, and Spanish. I distributed them according to primary language, and walked around the room announcing which language each kid was getting.

"Chinese," I said to one kid, and he got very upset.

"I'm not Chinese!" he objected.

"Do you want Spanish?" I asked (I had extras in Spanish).


"How about Korean?"


"Do you want to do the survey in English?" I asked. Fine with me. It sounded like good practice, even though this wasn't technically a teaching activity.


"Well, it's Chinese, then."

"I'm not Chinese!"

You see, the boy was from Taiwan. In Taiwan, they're taught they aren't Chinese, and it's a big deal to kids like this one. But still, whatever they call themselves, and whatever language they speak, they actually read and write in Chinese.

"Well, you don't have to be Chinese. But this is written in Chinese. Can you read it?"

"Of course."

"Then please fill it out for me," I told him.

The kids seem to get along pretty well, whether they come from the mainland or Taiwan. But don't tell the Taiwanese kids they're from China. Hard to understand, isn't it?

I have a lot of friends from Jersey, and I'll probably have to go there on Saturday. But don't ever accuse me of coming from Jersey. Now that makes perfect sense.
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