Lost in Translation

Yesterday morning, I went to the school to meet up with Ailsa, my co-worker in marketing and Real 1 student, so we could journey to Lily’s house together for lunch. In case you didn’t read my last entry, Lily is my Real 1 student (I may have called her a Real 3 by accident, we’re on the third textbook in the Real 1 series) and she had invited me to her house on the weekend. I was nervous about it because, although I like Lily a lot, she’s really lovely, she really can’t speak English. I didn’t want to spend my whole afternoon gesturing like a mime and explaining the simplest sentences. Luckily, Ailsa was also invited and her English is definitely better than Real 1. I’d say she was a Real 4 or 5 easy, and I told her she should move up to a different class, but she said she wanted me to be her teacher so she’ll stay put. 🙂

After about a 15 minute cab ride we reached Lily’s apartment complex. It was a nicer area than where I live, perhaps a bit cleaner and spread out. She met us outside and brought us up to her apartment on the 4th floor. It was very comfortable and homey, I always enjoy visiting Chinese apartments that aren’t owned by foreigners. All of the local apartments that I have been to in Hohhot were furnished with comfortable, large couches, beautiful paintings on the walls, a huge television, a small garden area with cactuses and potted plants, and (yay!) treats on the living room table to snack on, like nuts, seeds, chocolates and candy. Poor Lily, she was so embarrassed because the water in her building had shut off so she couldn’t cook me the chinese lunch she had promised! I told her not to worry, my electricity had been out since 8pm the night before (a story for another time)! After touring her apartment, speaking with her 16 year old daughter, looking at wonderful old photo albums of Lily and her family, munching on seeds and having a bit of chit-chat on the living room couches (a conversation greatly depending on Ailsa’s translation, bless her heart), Lily took us out for lunch at a nearby restaurant.

The food was very good, lots of meat and noodle dishes! Lily had brought a bottle of wine with her because it’s customary for the host to offer the guest a glass of wine in welcoming. I’m not a wine drinker, but I had a glass out of respect and politeness, and we did a lot of cheers-ing, or “Gan Bei!” in chinese. After lunch Lily, her daughter Emma, Ailsa and I walked to a nearby movie theatre to check out the movie selection. Lily had bought my ticket for me before I realized that we were seeing War Horse, a story about a horse’s survival during WWI. Generally I tend to avoid movies that (from their previews) show any indication of animal cruelty because I know that I’ll just bawl through the whole thing. I can watch a war movie, no problem, but the idea of an innocent animal in the middle of it…. AHhh my heartstrings!!!!! Unfortunately, there was no backing out of this one. I sucked it up and only shed a few tears throughout the show. I closed  my eyes unnecessarily often during some scenes, just to avoid the chance of seeing something animal-related that would scar me for life.

I’m still glad I went because it really made Lily happy. After the show she found me a cab and I said goodbye to her, Ailsa and Emma, thanking them profusely and promising to do it again very soon! I’m glad I went, I’m not sure why I was so nervous to begin with. Granted, if Ailsa hadn’t been there it would have been 10 times more awkward and difficult to communicate, but she WAS there and all in all I had a lovely afternoon, learnt new things and got to know my students better! Success!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gail Johnson
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 04:30:41

    I am so glad you went Steph and had a good time. The movie is one I want to see when it comes to Kenora. Always looking forward each week to a new blog from you. Makes my week.

    Reply

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