My sister Julia is in China at the moment. She spent almost a year there last year teaching English before being sent home because of SARS, and now she’s back for her sentimental farewell tour.
Some of the stuff she told me about her experiences were amazing, some disgusting (the sight of a dead woman floating in the Yellow River, for instance), and some hilarious. I always particularly enjoyed hearing about the Americanized names that her students chose. She liked to suggest names from her family to them, but whenever she suggested the name Peter, they had trouble pronouncing it, and it came out sounding like Beetle. In the end, I think we can all agree that Beetle’s a pretty awesome name anyway, so one guy in China lucked out there.
Other students liked picking words that described them for their names. So she had a student named Lazy. A good friend of hers was named Super. What goes on in the mind of a man who decides that he is such a tremendous person that his name must be changed to Super? “Wow, I am incredibly amazing. I am awesome. I can’t even fathom my own greatness! Henceforth, I’d like all of you to refer to me as Super. Thanks everybody!”
One student was named Spray. SPRAY. I love that this person couldn’t find a suitable adjective to describe themselves, so they chose an arbitrary word. I love the idea so much that from here on out, my new name is Stapler.
I also enjoyed hearing about the popular music in China. For example the song, “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx is just about the most popular song in the history of China. It gets pulled out and performed over and over again. Julia told me of a few tours that she went on which ended with the tour guide saying “Thank you for coming on the tour with us today. You’ve been a wonderful group. I would like to sing to you. ‘Wewewer you go, whatewer you do, I wiw be wight hewe waiting fow you'”
So from the communism of Karl Marx…
To the sweet pop stylings of Richard Marx…
You’ve come a long way China! Keep it up with your growing economic power and that whole forced abortions thing!