Not For All The Tea In China

A blog describing the idiosyncracies of working and teaching in China and life on a day to day basis. With stories of unbelievable stupidity and outright ripping off of foreigners.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's Black And White

In China, for reasons I've yet to fathom, Chinese people have a way of trying to reduce everything to a simplistic black or white viewpoint, that there may be some shade of grey viewpoint is generally beyond them, more to the point, it is actively rejected.

One that always makes me shake my head in disdain is the view that black people are dirty, are black people dirty because they don't wash? No, Are black people dirty because their culture is different? No? Are they dirty because of their body odour? No. According to many of my 'adult' students black people are dirty because they have black skin, and that 'looks' dirty...therefore that means they are dirty!

Such a viewpoint is beyond stupid, it would be almost be better if the students were just plain racist. Another belief, that has sprung up from I don't know were, is that in India when Indian people say yes, it means no, and when they no, it means yes. Why any culture would waste it's time with such a riduculous practice is beyond me; and surely if 'no' means 'yes' and vice-versa then obviously it would mean the word in the Indian language for 'yes' is actually 'no', so therefore yes doesn't mean no! Try as I might to explain that perhaps this comes from a cultural form of politeness ie. they don't want to say no to someone in a 'specific' situation that maybe Indian people would rather be polite and say yes but not really mean it; as much as I explain it, it falls on deaf ears, I even have Indian friends that find this idea laughable, does that change my students minds? No, of course not(or maybe I mean yes), 'cos they read it in a book or magazine somewhere, so it must be true!

In almost all classes I will have a few students who like basketball; so popular in China is basketball, that you would be forgiven for thinking it's their national sport. Even in America, basketball is only the 4th most popular sport. So, as is usually the case, basketball, will at some point become a topic of conversation. This frequently happens when I ask students to tell me something they would like to change about themselves, almost always one student(but usually more)will say they want to become taller, they will do this, they inform me, by playing basketball more often. Perhaps the rational goes like this, all proffesional basketball players are tall, therefore, playing basketball makes you tall. Now, it may be the case that all that jumping up in the air straightens the spine a tad, but that is a far cry form it making one 'tall'. As with the former cases, my explanations fall on deaf ears. My quaint ideas of genetics are obviously far behind the times.

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