Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dad's Early International Experience Worries Kids

A few nights ago at dinner with the family, I got to tell how much fun it was to have friends from all over the world. Specifically, when I first moved to Taiwan after college I shared an apartment with two Chinese sisters and Richard from Surrey, UK.

Richard and I became friends and I enjoyed imitating his accent, as well as asking him everything I ever wanted to know about fish and chips, soccer hooliganism, the queen, Christmas pudding. He shared the satirical magazine Private Eye with me.

The kids were shocked I was so culturally inappropriate, being so obvious with my crass stereotypes and misconceptions.

I told them that once a level of trust has been established, curiosity and interest (as well as mockery) where a person comes from can be appreciated. They didn't buy it. True, I might have been overbearing more than a few times. Still, Richard was my friend and I recall many good times together.

Stephano from Italy, who called me Gigi because it sounded similar to saying "reporter" in Mandarin.
Mr. Kumada from Japan who read Vonnegut and wanted to know about the civil war. Yes, he is wearing my cowboy hat.
I lived in Taiwan for five years and so had the more profound cultural exchanges with my Chinese friends and the local people I worked with. I spoke Mandarin to some degree and invested myself to learning about the culture and history.

My sense of humor didn't translate all that easily into Chinese, so when I think of international high jinx, I am reminded of these characters above.

A culture fair at a local university.


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