Monday, December 7, 2009

Grab Bag

Some more things from this week, which you can feel free to grab at your leisure.

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Apropos of my last post, on the subject of Team "Things You Cannot Serve Both God And", I will say that one of my students actually did know what mammon means (well, she said "greed", which was closer at least), and I find that terribly impressive. I think there are a lot of native English speakers who think that mammon is either a religion or a type of fish. Or possibly the name of the guy who wrote "Glengarry Glen Ross."

It's also another example of the fact that my students know way too many words for their own good. I had to explain the word "dignity" to my film class on Saturday, and after explaining it, one precocious student said, "So it's sort of like 'augustness'?" I mean, yes. But also no.

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Gus and I had colleagues from Hong Kong visiting this weekend, so on Sunday we took them to a nearby mountain and climbed the heck out of it. At the top of the mountain there were dozens (or as one of my students said at English corner last week when describing a large amount, "scores." Scores! What is this, the Guangzhouysburg Address? Mr. Abe Linchan over here? Watch out for the John Wilkes Booth-shu pork! The jokes just keep coming! Now back to your regularly scheduled main clause) of old Chinese people playing hacky sack (毽子 in Chinese).

Now, I see old Chinese people hacking-sacking all the time. I have seen more hacky-sack hackers sacking it here than I ever have before in my life, and I truly believe that Guangzhou must have the highest concentration of senior citizen hacky sack players anywhere in the world, except maybe Burning Man. I have also done more h-sacking here than I ever have before in my life, which is probably because before coming here I refused to touch a hacky sack, believing it to be less of a fun game and more of a pellet-filled tool for making me look foolish.

Well now I know that it is a fun game, and it does make me look foolish. Especially when we're hacking at the top of the mountain on Sunday with our two friends from Hong Kong and several Chinese people decide to join us and just give us a good sacking right then and there in front of everyone.

At one point, the hacky sack got stuck in a tree, and I was like, Oh, no, God, what a shame, that hacky sack's just going to have to stay in the tree while we stop playing and go on with our previously hacky sack free lives. But then one our industrious Chinese companions got it down by repeatedly throwing water bottles into the branches. And then we got to play hacky sack for 15 more minutes. Great day.

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Ok, I don't want to say anything too specific about this because I don't want to break anyone's trust, but I do want to tell you that we've set up some of our students with American pen pals through an American teacher that knew a previous Guangzhou fellow. The American students (all 8th graders) sent their first letters to our students this week, and one letter begins "Hello my name is ________. My life is awesome, because I am awesome." I think we have no choice but to take him at his word.