Mar. 16th, 2010

marjorieinchina: (Ariana)
This morning I was teaching a lesson about travel and going around the room having students describe an imaginary trip (where will you go? how will you get there? etc.) when a boy who'd already spoken raised his hand again. I let some other students finish and then asked him, "Do you have something else to say?"

"I have two questions for you!" he said.

I hesitated a moment but didn't want to shoot him down so I said, "Okay."

"Do you agree with America selling F-16s to Taiwan! And do you stand with Obama's party!"

(The younger students almost never use a rising inflection when they ask questions.)

I declined to answer the questions, saying something like "this is time for you to talk, not time for me to talk," partly because I really doubt I'm supposed to talk politics in class, partly because I don't know much about Taiwan or US-Taiwan relations, partly because they wouldn't have understood anything I said on these topics, and partly because for heaven's sake we were in the middle of an exercise. It was all rather startling. I imagine myself a language teacher but for these kids I'm first and forever a foreigner.

My geopolitics aren't sufficiently up to speed to interpret this incident in a broader light. A lot of students doing this exercise say they want to go to America to see Obama, for whatever that's worth.

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marjorieinchina

July 2010

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