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Friendship between Post Falls and me

By Haojie Shi 

I was very excited to receive the invitation from Post Falls High School in the United States. But there is also a hint of being upset. What would this small town in the northwestern United States look like? Google Maps shows a large piece of buildings. At the same time there are large forests around it. My feeling for this town is both new and strange. This is the residence and working place for me for the next two years when I teach Chinese here, Post Falls. 

Arriving at the school, both the headmaster and every colleague showed great enthusiasm for me. When the principal put the school key in my hand, I felt being accepted and recognized. Every day at work, my colleagues’ warm greetings and smiles quickly made me feel that this is not a strange city but my far-away home across the ocean. 

My friendship with this city stems from the teacher in the same office with me. Her name is Sam. Since we each only teach 3 classes, we share the same classroom, which doubles as our office. When I first arrived, I was confused about many things. Sam showed great patience with me. She took me on all occasions, big or small, and explained to me everything carefully. In fact, Sam is also newly coming to Idaho from Washington State this year. She is not very clear about many things herself. However, she still helps me as much as possible. With her help, coupled with a dedicated teacher, Ryan, who  the school assigned  to help me solve all kinds of difficulties in my life, my work and life in the new school will be much smoother. 

In addition to helping me at work, Sam also brought me to her family to visit her grandparents. Her family is very friendly to me. I made dumplings for everyone and they prepared a variety of Asian foods. A party where everyone was happy. What she did gave me a lot of comfort in my heart when I was so away from my loved ones. Sam’s relatives and friends include Russians, Italians, Yemeni, and Mexicans. Together with the Americans and I, a Chinese, we all joke that it is a United Nations. With staying longer in the United States, I feel that this situation is quite common. Before I came here, people told me that the United States is “a melting pot”, and I did not understand it well. When I saw my students include people coming from all over the world, black people, Asians, Europeans, etc., I gradually understood the meaning of “melting pot”. All of them think that they are Americans and they are all getting well with each other. 

Thanks to Sam being my friend and family, I have a lot of convenience in my life in Post Falls. If I need a lift, Sam will drive me to the station. Once she and her husband drove to Spokane Airport to pick me up.I was very touched and deeply felt the warmth of being cared and helped in a foreign country.All her family ,like her, treat me as a member of their family. A few days ago, Sam had her 27-year-old birthday party and I celebrated her birthday with her family. On weekends we will meet for outings, walks, shopping and tasting fine food. No matter how far away from home, where there are friends is hometown. 

Because after all, thousands of miles away from home, I have few friends and relatives. Thus students are my friends and loved ones who I see and greet every day. The  Meiyun family has just arrived in Idaho from California for a year. On Thanksgiving Day, they invited me to visit their home. I brought them Chinese cuisine, dumplings that I was very good at. The whole family loved it very much. They are very hospitable. Meiyun told me that because she wanted to invite guests to the house, she and her mother cleaned up for several days. The turkey that his father made is very delicious, which is full of juice and delicious. Her father told me, to make a good turkey, one need to add water to it repeatedly. It takes an estimated one day to do a good job. This is my first Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which taught me the true meaning of Thanksgiving: to help people who need help; to express thanks to those who give you care. 

Dalong’s grandmother had been to Shanghai, China in the early years and it was possible that this was one of the reasons why Dalong chose the Chinese language course. He is a very clever and studious child, who likes reading texts and writing Chinese characters. His learning is very proactive. At the same time, he is a golf enthusiast. In this year’s game, he won third place. 

Because he was in the ninth grade and his competitors were all older than him, so he still has great potential. His good friend Keaton also loves learning Chinese. And his performance has become more and more proactive. Keaton had his fifteenth birthday the other day and his family invited me to attend his birthday party. We did bowling with his family and his best friends. Everyone was very happy! Keaton’s father is a very polite and caring person. Keaton’s mother is a very diligent person who takes care of her family. There is also a girl named Shu Fang in my class, who is full of love and yearning for the culture of China and South Korea. She has learned a lot of Chinese songs. She and her good friends will chat with me every day after class, and they are   concerned about my life. She would tell me her newly favorite Chinese and Korean singers and songs. When you are with the kids, you will always feel their innocence. They love you and Chinese from the bottom of their hearts. 

It is with the friendship and love of colleagues, friends, and students that every day in Post Falls of mine is full of sunshine. A year has passed since I first came to Post Falls. Feeling how time flies, while I also feel that my friendship with this town has taken root.  

I just installed a network at home, and the master who installed the network told me that he was the parent of one of my students. So we chatted happily. 

Spring has come and summer is coming. The most beautiful season in Post Falls has arrived. Welcome friends from afar to have a chance to visit my American home. 

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Never say “fat” to your American friends!

Author: Jin Ming

Appropriate and pleasant communication helps to make good impression even good and long relationship between friends. Sometimes Chinese people haven’t noticed that some words we are using might hurt people’s feelings when we are taking with Americans. I think it’s very necessary to analyze why we choose the words and how to improve our wordings. So let’s talk about the word fat which is a sensitive word for Americans.

When I visited my gal-pal after a long trip and I said to her “It seems like you gained weight recently.” Which made one of my friends very upset and he told me “You are so rude to her.” We [Chinese] might think it’s very common to say this as a greeting or caring for your very close friends. And also a kindness remind for your friends to keep their figure. But it would be considered as a very rude behavior in the USA.

And I also made another mistake about using  fat. I was having conversation with my friend and she was joking with me talking about our weight. And I said to her “you are fat!” And she said “I’m not fat. I am pretty much the average American woman.” I have noticed that I should never use fat for anyone.

And there is another example. One of my students went to China with his mom for spring break this year. He was so excited to share the awesome trip with me when he was back to school. He said Chinese food was amazing and Chinese people were very friendly. But there was one thing that a little Chinese boy said to him “your mom is fat,” which shocked his mom and him. His mom felt a little awkward at that time after hearing it.

You see I am not the only one who would make mistakes when we communicate with American friends. And we were using fat all the time to describe someone overweight in our English composition. And even our teachers teach us fat, although it might not be her fault.

I think there are three reasons why we use fat pretty often when we want to describe someone who is overweight. Firstly, from Chinese culture side most Chinese people like being thin and we think thin is beauty. So we might want to use fat when we see someone not thin .Secondly, the first word appears in most Chinese people’s mind is fat when we talk about overweight because it’s an easy and common word and we don’t know chubby. Just like we know to say dog, cat, horse as those are very simple words but for other animals but we’ll use “animals” because of our limited vocabularies instead of saying the specific ones if we don’t know how to say them. Thirdly, we don’t know the exactly which size can be said fat. We’ll use fat as long as we see his or her overweight. So next time we should avoid talking about someone’s weight and never use fat to them.

We should learn the exactly meaning and know how to use it properly in their culture when we start leaning a new language. And it’s the same of learning Chinese.

Learning Chinese through Movie Dubbing

By: Haiyan Rong, UICI Intern Chinese Teacher

The Movie “Hero is Back” is very popular with kids. As an intern with a Chinese foreign language class, I made a point of arranging a movie-watching session for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. They could view a movie as way to review and practice their Chinese.  The movie chosen was “Hero is back.” To my amazement, the students all liked this movie very much. They kept talking about the characters of the movie.  Motivated by the interest and enthusiasm from the students, I started to formulate a plan: To instruct the students to practice Chinese though imitating the characters’ verbal Chinese, which could be designed as a class to dub a Chinese movie withe their own Chinese.

With the idea in mind, I started to prepare for the dubbing class. I selected an interesting part. Then I typed the Chinese lines of each role with Chinese Pinyin (romanized letters) and English words below the actor’s lines. I then made a copy for every student. The next day, at the beginning of the review class, I said, “It seemed to me that all of you liked the movie ‘Hero is back’.  Do you have an interest in playing the roles of the characters in the movie?” All of the students were excited to practice Chinese dubbing.

I let the students to divide themselves into groups, each group consisting of 3 people. The students were encouraged to be self-instructing and talk amongst themselves to asign each person a role. This was team work, and the students showed good team spirit. Each group was given 20 minutes for practice before they did the formal presentation. As a result, each group did a wonderful performance. Every student tried his/her best to imitate the character’s accent and verbal Chinese. The students’ great concentration and passion for the dubbing class has inspired me to figure out more creative ways to help the students practice their Chinese.Chinese dubbing