Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I had a meeting with my boss after class today. For two hours we discussed the direction of the school, how to improve curriculum, my love life and, of course, which students drive us bat-shit crazy.

I really like Boss. Sure, I only understand 85 percent of what she says, and there have been occasions where I wanted to smack my head during a teaching demo when she was giving an ungrammatical grammar lesson. But her husband and she are new small-business owners. They've only been at it a couple years, they work hard, and they care about the kids. I admire her spunk.

After the work-related conversation dissipated, she caught me off guard with this one:

"So, why you date James?"

"Why? Because I like him."

"So you want to get marry?"

"Ahhhhhhh...I am so young-

"How old will you want to get married? 26? 28?"

"Aaaaahhhhh...." I pull my hat over my eyes and tuck my head between my knees.

"Okay, okay. So embarrassing. I know. But why you date him? I think, even in Taiwan ... you will find other foreigner. More like you. So why? Why? Why you date him?"

"James is American . Actually, he is half white too."

"Yes I know. But I just...I think I am old-fashion. Because he is Chinese. I think other foreigner more like you."

"Well, James is like me. We grew up in the same city, have the same friends, went to the same schools. It's different in America. There are so many different kinds of people that live together."

"Hmm. Okay."

Having lived here awhile now, I didn't find the conversation weird or intrusive. Some 98% of Taiwanese citizens are Han Chinese. The other 2% is Taiwanese aborigines. Then there are English teachers, some foreign professionals, and Southeast Asian laborers. Assimilated immigrants? Not so much.

With that in mind, it's easy to see how Boss has a hard time believing people who look different can share a culture.

Sometimes I don't even believe James and I have the same culture. The dust bunnies, the rat's nest of recording equipment, and the overflowing trashcan in his office make me think he belongs with the abominable residents of the hills outlying Kaohsiung:
James' Real Family

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