Saturday, 7 June 2008

The language challenge

One of the things that I have asked is for a map of the college/university. The reason we were not given one was that it is in Chinese - and I have offered to work with a student and translate - so that we can give new teachers a guide to where they might need to go.

Several times in the past couple of weeks I have had challenges. For example, one day I was told that there was a special dinner that night which I was instructed to attend. (Getting notification at short notice is a feature of life here!!!) But this event was to be held in the "staff canteen". I was most surprised as for the four months that I have been here, I did not know there was a "staff canteen." No where in the information give to us is there any reference to this building, which oddly enough is very close to our apartments! Now I know where it is!

On Thursday I had a note stuck to my door by someone from the International Exchange office requesting that I attend "The Student's Centre" between 1.30 and 2 pm on Friday. The Student's Centre? What and where is that???

I was given instructions by one of the students and proceeded to arrive at the appointed time, only to find this huge building locked - in fact one door had a chain lock on it. We could see people inside - so we did a circumnavigation of what turned out to be the "stadium" where basketball and gymnasium is held. The entrance is a small door on the side of the building.

When I returned to my apartment later, there was a phone call. In broken English I was told that I had to get "fooda" from the office - and it was ten minutes before the office closed. So I went down the five flights of stairs and walked the 1/2 klm to the office and was given two vacuumed packed Chinese delicacy. It appears that this is special food for The Dragon Boat Racing Festival which is this weekend.

I managed to meet up with my Chinese teacher along the way seeking instructions on what to do with it. "It is delicious" I am told. No English instructions. It seems one boils it in water in a saucepan for 20 minutes and then you eat it. I have two varieties, but have no idea what the difference is. Do you think they would give us some English information? I wish!!!!!

Things happen that we don't understand and we are used to "being in the dark" about a lot of things. It is too hard for some staff and students to explain.

More of the mysteries of China.

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