Friday, March 27, 2009


(spring is coming)
Each of my students has one major project this semester; they have to make a five minute presentation on their plans for the ten years following their graduation. Many of them have used the opportunity to talk about big dreams, like owning their own foreign trade company, traveling all over China, or, as one girl named Ivy explained, living in a cottage in Switzerland where she and her husband can raise their two little "trouble-makers." It's great to see all of the students on the edge of their seats as they listen to their friend stand up front talk about his or her dreams. Without fail, when it's time for the presenter to answer questions, a student will stand up and ask a question like, "What qualities will you look for in a husband?" or "Tell us about your mr. right." This will guarantee a ripple of giggles throughout the room (something I can't resist joining in on). One of my favorite things about the presentations, and teaching here in general, is the mispronunciations and grammatical errors. It's inevitable for a people with such a different mother tongue to butcher English, and it tickles me every time. Charles was answering questions following his presentation when someone asked him where his love for basketball fit in with his plans for the future. Charles paused, looking for just the right word. Unfortunately, he found two right words, and just put them together,

"Basketball is my hobbit."

I was the only one to laugh.

Marina was explaining... something (admittedly, I dazed out for a moment) when I heard her say,

"I think we all need stromboli!"

Based on the context, I realized she had meant to say, "strong body," but instead she made me think of dinners at the Hatchers, courtesy of Joyce Hatcher (tell her I miss it, Ryan), and I dazed out again.

The classroom isn't the only place for English misunderstandings. Just this morning I heard Ryan carefully enunciating his email address to his student on the phone,

"...b...e...t...t...w...y...@... No, Owen, it's not two U's; it's the letter 'W', like the word, 'window'."

As I'm beginning to study Chinese, I know I make similar mistakes in their language; they're just a little more gracious than I am.


For some reason, I've gotten into the same conversation three different times with three different people in the last week about the relativity of truth. Our close friends, Robert and Vince, seem to think it's possible for truth to be completely relative. "We are all truth detectives, but no one person can know it" Robert (seen left) said. Vince used a different metaphor, one that can more easily identify with. He said he believed in a "programmer" and that we're all computers. It's up to us whether we want to buy into that software we've been programmed to use or not. "I am denying everything!" Vince exclaimed. More than whether this is true or not (notice how truth works), it's about living a life of convenience. We all tend to want to believe what is convenient for us, and we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we're searching for truth. This is where our conversations with Robert and Vince have gotten, which is extremely exciting. I was talking with my friend, Ken, last week over KFC sundaes about what he desires in a girl. He said he doesn't really desire a girlfriend right now, but that his mother told him that "it's his duty" to find a wife (don't evey try, mom). Eventually I was able to explain why I respect my brother and his wife's relationship so much. I told him I love that they share the same goal; they encourage one another to a relationship with their creator. This led to a bigger conversation about our creator.

Things are happening here; for us it's a matter of living with purpose. We have some great friendships with students, as well as with each other. I want my relationships with my students to grow into something that resembles my relationships with my brothers, Tim, Ryan, and Cameron. And they are.


Linda said...

Don't worry hon, I'm interviewing some promising candidates for you to check out this pressure. :-) Mom

jean said...

KFC has sundaes?!!

Greg said...

Listen to Genesis "Anything she does"

spider screen said...

Howbit you come home soon and bring Tim so we can play in the backyard.

ruthie said...

I wish I was in your class. I swear I would be a better (and quieter) student than in high school.

Bridget said...

Don't worry, Jon. I'm doing my best to keep your mom distracted from the matchmaking thing. Besides, I told her Kate Hudson was already in a relationship, and Jennifer Aniston is just plain too old for you! Bridget

lordOption Designs and Promotion said...

More strength to your person. I have you in my thoughts always. Keep at good conversations...