Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

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You drop the kid on the island. Miraculously, within months, survival instincts force him to adapt. First water, shelter, food. Then he starts climbing Maslow’s hierarchy. He meets locals, and he adapts; he picks up the language. When his family finds him years later he is re-educated, completely re-programmed. At least that’s how it goes in the movies.

In real life? Well, we shall see. I decided, upon the urging or my peers, to up my Mandarin level into an intermediate class regardless of the fact that I have never once had an actual Mandarin lesson. Never.

I wanted to challenge myself. I want, I should say. I came to China because living an anglophone life Taiwan proved disingenuous to my stated goals (on a side note, friends do affect you– Kizha, thanks for the goal orientation). So now I have to ante up and produce, like a first round draft pick. I’m trying to be the ROY not the Oden.

Each day I scribble like a madman on my ultra high-tech Mandarin translating palm device. If I fail to prepare, I fail to understand class. There is zero room for error. Imagine jumping into a trig class straight from pre-algebra. That’s it. That’s me. I went from being the smartest kid in my class at B level, to the moron with the dropped jaw in C. I’ll remedy that. My ego is too big not to.

Other than school, I find myself happily stumbling upon little gems of true Chinese culture. Culture eludes definition; now I understand Mr. Skvorc’s difficulty in explaining it to us in 10th grade. Honestly, what is it? Is it the music and the poor imitations of pop global culture? Is it the archaic remnants of outdated historic traditions? Or is it that melting point of transition, those moments stuck in the cracks of time? How is it that I wanted to be a foreign news correspondent under the impression I could land somewhere and report? I see now one of the greatest weaknesses of international news: hypothesis versus conclusion.

To keep you guessing, I give you my favorite Japanese TV show! It runs on Taiwanese cable with Chinese subtitles. I have never known what the actual purpose is, but it just makes me feel happy. Pan and James!


Written by Miles

September 14, 2007 at 10:03 am

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