Posts Tagged With: China

How I brought world and peace together

A few short weeks after arriving in Japan, my son met a girl in his homeroom class. It just so happened, this native Japanese girl spent a year or more in Knoxville, TN—our home town. In a strange turn of events, she was coming back to Knoxville in September for two weeks. In an even stranger turn of events, her host family was no longer available so I offered her a place to stay. Since we already have a girl from China living in our home for the school year, I figured the two girls would have a lot in common. After all, they’re both Asian, right?

“You do know, the Chinese and Japanese don’t really like each other,” my easygoing husband who had already accepted defeat when he allowed himself to be outnumbered by the females pointed out.

In my defense, I do not watch the world news–local news is discouraging enough—so I shrugged off his comment.

We picked Kanae up at the airport and shared a few very awkward hours getting to know each other. It reminded me a lot of the night we met Shunshun—our Chinese exchange student. Often quiet and feeling out of place, Shunshun suddenly embraced her role as a member of our family and POPPED out of her shell. She was no longer “new” and she took pride in the fact that she was not the shy, confused girl she once was.

Communicating with Kanae proved to be a challenge for all of us! Thankfully, she had an electronic translator, and I had Google. I learned to talk with my hands, read from an imaginary notepad she wrote on, and speak in broken English—a habit I’m still trying to break.  It was interesting and a little amusing to hear the Chinese teaching the Japanese how to speak English. What amazed me the most though, was how well the girls got along with each other, despite the language barrier. They shared an interest in music, movies, and of course, cute boys. However, there was a big difference in their cultures that I didn’t realize existed, and I felt guilty for assuming the two girls would be the same because they were both Asians.

My photo bomb!
Savannah, Shelby, Kanae, Shunshun

Kanae and Shunshun










In a late-night conversation with Kanae (Japan), I learned more about why the two countries don’t really like each other right now. I haven’t been living under a rock so I knew there was a dispute. Apparently, they are fighting over the islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Kanae informed me that Chinese restaurants in Japan are empty and Japanese buildings in China are being destroyed as tensions are high.

Kanae:  “But Shunshun is nice.”

Me:  “You seem surprised.”

Kanae:  “Yes. Japan and China,” she paused to pound her fists together. “But I like Shunshun.”

Me:  “I like Shunshun too, and I like you.”

Kanae:  “I like you and your family also.”

Me:  “We are many people sharing one world. We should all just get along.”

We smiled and squeezed our hands together. It didn’t matter what was going on in the news; we were having a moment. And that moment was all about bringing peace to a chaotic world.

Then I broke the silence.

Me:  “So who do the islands really belong to?”

Kanae:  “Japan.”

We both laughed.

A few days after Kanae went back to Japan, Shunshun and I were discussing the two-week visit. She said her mother found humor in the fact that we had Chinese, Japanese, and American together at the same time.

Shunshun: “China and Japan fight while America tries to make it better. Why does America do that?”

Me:  “We want the world to be at peace, so we do what we can to make it better.”

What I wanted to say: We are always sticking our noses in everybody’s business because we don’t want our economy to suck. What if the Middle East refused to share their oil or the Chinese raised the price of cheap labor?

Shunshun:  “You make it better. Kanae was very nice. I like her.”

Me:  “I like her too, and I like you.”

We both smiled and shared a peaceful moment until I broke the silence.

Me:  “So who do the islands really belong to?”

Shunshun:  “China, of course.”

We both laughed.

To be honest, you might be thankful I’m not a politician. And right about now you’re probably wondering why I titled this post: How I brought world and peace together.  

Surely, you can see the humor.


Categories: Life is an Adventure | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Chickens don’t have fingers

Airport Arrival

It has been a busy two weeks. I’d like to say I have been jet setting around the country promoting Magestic Dreams but that isn’t true. A sweet sixteen birthday party for my daughter, a visit from my nephews from Florida, packing my son for a year-long trip to Japan, the arrival of our foreign exchange student from China, the first day of school, and preparing for a Sayanara Party for my son which includes a visit from out-of-town family is my only excuse for not posting last week.

I must apologize for my lack of creativity this week but before you whip me with a wet noodle, let me explain a noodle. Though noodles are a staple of Chinese cooking (along with a truckload of rice), it is difficult to translate. This is what a noodle looks like in Chinese: 面条. And this is me, explaining pasta to our exchange student, Shunshun, in our first restaurant experience.

Shunshun: “What is pasta?”

Me: “Noodles.”

Shunshun: “What is noodle?”

Me: “A thin strip of pasta.”

As you can see by the above example, I lack the necessary skills to describe food choices. So, in an attempt to simplify the decision process, I suggested she try my daughter’s favorite—chicken fingers. A look of horror and confusion came across her face and it took me a few seconds to explain that chickens don’t really have fingers and we don’t really eat them. I tried to describe breaded and fried to no avail and so, we settled on a grilled chicken breast with rice pilaf and a side of mac and cheese. She devoured the breast and rice but much to my disappointment, the mac and cheese didn’t pass the test.

This morning, I made a sack lunch for my daughter and Shunshun. Prior to making the traditional peanut butter sandwich, I gave her a tiny taste. The sticky texture might have freaked her out a little bit. She walked around the kitchen with her hand over her mouth, smiling as she tried to swallow.

“Is good,” she finally said.

“You don’t have to like it,” I said laughing.

She laughed with me and replied, “No really, is good.” So, I packed her a PB&J sandwich, a handful of fruit, cheetos (my sense of humor), and trail mix, none of which she has ever tasted (except the fruit).

We knew there would be a language barrier, but we didn’t realize it would come down to words like flush, shampoo, shower, and panties. Figuring out a way to describe our everyday words can turn your brain into jello. Jello is a gelatin that jiggles and comes in flavors like orange and lime. Orange is a fruit that you peel and eat, or squeeze and drink.

Categories: Life is an Adventure | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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