Tag Archives: culture

my thai lullaby

I was trying to write a blog post tonight — I have so many on my mind — but, to be honest, it’s been a long day. I write best in the morning. I should know better.

And so I decided I would log out of “Shift,” check facebook, log out of that, and head to bed . . . And then on facebook I saw this. And I just had to share.

This, my friends, is what life is — or at least should be — all about.

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The news clips call this a tear jerker. Why? Why is that? Should it be? Should tears form when, universally, we recognize what we all should have been doing in the first place? Interesting how emotions know no cultural lines.
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greater than all these

Taiwan_temple05

Dragons are the most exalted “animal” in Chinese culture.

I was struck by its colors. Bright red and yellow and blue and green . . .

But then it was gone. Nick* was driving too fast. But, oh wait! There was another one. This one looked similar, only it was bigger. Rainbow-colored dragons with yellow spines leaped from its peaks. Black-bearded men holding whips perched nearby. I was agog.

But then it was gone.

“Would you slow down?” I wanted to punch Nick.

“You want to see temples?”

I said nothing. Continue reading

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no man is an island

island3

“Heyyyy! I thought that was you!”

I didn’t recognize the man who had appeared out of nowhere beside our table.

“How’s that arm?” He touched my shoulder. “Your dad was so worried about you—and not just about your arm, about your life! How long ago was that, anyway? . . . And how ’bout Hong Kong? Your dad told me you were over there. What were you doing there? Bet ol’ Placerville feels small now! I’ve never been to Asia. Born and raised in SoCal; moved up here and never left. Did a rotation in Dublin once, though. One of the best times of my life. What ya doin’ in ol’ Placerville?”

I wondered, briefly, how the man breathed. His lips hardly seemed to keep up with his mouth. Continue reading

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it’s about control

My student is crying because her father made her finish her food.

Usually, she brings a lunch from home. That’s why today, when I sat down, I was surprised to see her eating a plate of macaroni from the caf.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the food in our cafeteria is bad. The food in our cafeteria is terrible. Overcooked greens, limp noodles covered in thin sauce, grayish-brown tofu and vegetables served over rice . . . I stopped eating the caf food—and most of my students stopped buying it—after the first day.

One thing to know about the caf is that they serve huge portions. If a primary student goes through the “big kids’” line, they end up with a mountain of food that only a ravenous sumo wrestler could finish. My students are petite Asians.

When she had eaten as much as she could, my student asked to go talk to her father, who is also the local church pastor. He usually eats lunch at the same time and was sitting just across the room. Imagine my surprise, then, when a few minutes later a couple of my girls said, “Look, M-’s crying.” I looked to where they were pointing. There was M-, tears streaming down her face and her father towering over her, scowling.

The next thing I knew, M- was trudging back to our table with her unfinished plate, sobbing. She had to eat all of her food.

She’s been teary ever since.

And my question is, “Why?” I’m not a parent, and my intent is not to criticize, but . . . Why? The cafeteria had obviously given her way too much food, and it’s not like the food is expensive. And even if she was eating caf food because she’d forgotten her lunch at home: who doesn’t forget their lunch once in a while? What had she done so wrong?

A friend of mine tells me M-’s father’s behavior is quite normal. Some Asian parents beat their children for less. It’s cultural, he says. It’s about respect and control: Asian parents like to exert their control, and Asian children are more disciplined than Westerners because of it. On the flip side, Westerners tend to be more creative than Asians. There’s no use in thinking outside of the box if you’re going to be beaten because you didn’t stay inside it.

Hmm.

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