I’m a foreigner…

The World of Sport
September 3, 2006
Yu Yuan Gardens
September 7, 2006

I’m a foreigner…

You can thank a little girl (no older than 4 years old) in our apartment complex for the title of this post. Today as we were walking back into the complex (after a very good basketball game with the players on the team at the Shanghai University of Sport), she shouted “LAOWAI!!!” as we walked by her. Laowai means foreigner in mandarin. As usual when we know people are talking about us we wave and say “ni hao!”

But then we had something hit us (just as every day when we wake up in the morning, and say wow, we are really in China)… Everywhere we go, there are Chinese people. For the first time in my life, I am the foreigner. I can’t read anything, I can barely speak the language, (although I am getting better everyday) and everyday I am still amazed by new things that I see and learn. A short list…

  1. The amount of bikes and people riding them, even in the rain
  2. The amount of things people transport/haul on bikes.
  3. The fact that a great majority of Chinese really don’t know how to use a fork and knife. It is a rare occasion that a fork will even be an option at most places, but you will never see a knife on a table at a “real” Chinese restaurant. Knives are a symbol of death.
  4. There’s no voicemail here, gotta send a text message.
  5. These ridiculously small vans. Really, these things are so small they shouldn’t even be a van.

Of course there are more, but I’d be here all night naming them.

But one thing I really want to write, mostly because I don’t want to forget this is, and also because I wish more people could hear things like this…

A little background… We have a friend, who we met on the basketball court, named Liu Yang (English name, David). He is pursuing a master’s degree in Basketball coaching and training at the Shanghai University of Sport. (Isn’t that interesting?) You see David in the Pig Brain videos and the KTV videos.

After dinner tonight, we asked him if he wanted to accompany us to our favorite hangout here in Shanghai, the I Love Shanghai Lounge. On the way there, in the cab, he asked us if we saw the movie “Coach Carter”. Given his major and future interests, of course he saw it. During the conversation he asked us what we thought about the word “nigger/nigga”. We gave him the history of the word and our viewpoint on it and its usage. His next statement was, if this word has that type of history and with all of its negative connotations, why do African Americans use it so freely when it is degrading to them?

I wish every African American in the world (most importantly, those who use those words) could have heard this question as he asked it, instead of me retelling the story…







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