Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Cross-Cultural Encouragement

It's been about a week since we picked up our exchange students who will be with us for a month. Tim has been the best one at communication skills with them, playing for hours in the back yard or downstairs, and there's been an abundance of giggling and fast talk that if you don't listen closely sounds as much like it could be English as anything else; they play volleyball and foosball and who-knows-what all over the place. From what could be overheard after today's school time, they were using all their practice questions on him downstairs: "What's your favorite car?" (Mustang). Not sure how clearly his answers were understood, but that was the exercise.
I think they've been adjusting to the new and no doubt overwhelming sensory challenges, such as American food and furniture and all that. They always clean their plates, and they are most clearly happy with my cooking if I cook up some sticky rice, which they will eat any time of the day. For the most part they politely take it all in stride no matter what I serve.
The biggest amazement I've seen on their faces was when I brought them a lunch that our neighbors Dean and Stacia were kind enough to purchase at a nearby restaurant that makes sushi and teriyaki. Dean came over to deliver it midday, only to be so disappointed by the fact that they were off to school (Stacia had told me the day before but I forgot that their schedules would so collide). From what Stacia said, he was looking forward to practicing some Japanese that he had been learning. It won't happen early tomorrow, either, because they are off to the water park; maybe tomorrow evening. He made enough that they were absolutely full of their Japanese feast both for lunch and for dinner. (Maybe he forgot that 12- and 13-year-old girls don't have he-man appetites.) I heard one of them say something in a delighted voice that sounded like "Good" but I suspect that in Japanese it meant something more like, "We just may survive this week."
It was an encouragement to Ai, Lena and Shioli, and to me too. I don't even mind that there are three peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches sitting neglected in my fridge. Anyone hungry?

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