Monday, September 17, 2012

Lemonade from lemons

We've had a few "That's China!" experiences but one in particular stands out; not necessarily for the grandeur of it but for the ripple affect of our attitude during the 'Chinese Fire-drill' experience. A couple of weeks ago we were informed that, in addition to registering with the local police station within 24 hours of arriving in Jinan, China, we also had to register and obtain a Chinese Residency Registration permit to live in the country for a year. All the hoops it took us 6 months to jump through to apply for this teaching position now had to be jumped through again in one week...while we are stressing out with new classes and lesson plans. Fortunately, the directors of the BYU David Kennedy Center China Teachers Program had warned us to bring all our documents and paperwork with us. Assuming all was in order and following what little instructions we were given, we took one of my sophomore students as a translator on a 20-minute taxi cab trip to the Exit-Entry Administration in a very large government complex. 

Five hours later we were pretty much back where we started. Apparently without warning the government had declared that the university must also apply a precious official red stamp to a letter signifying that we were indeed a 40-year married couple (notwithstanding the inclusion of our apparently not-so-acceptable certified marriage certificate). And the big surprise of the afternoon was the 400 yen each that must be paid. The short version: 1. I was accepted but John was rejected due to the lack of the Official Red Stamp, 2. our translator was awesome, 3. the translator for another American couple took pity on our situation and gave us her Chinese credit card AND password so I could pay my 400 bucks, 4. calls were made to get a letter that had the OFFICIAL RED STAMP asap, 5. 2 more visits and SIX 20-minute cab fares later we were officially legal residents of China until July 2, 2013. 

I thought that was the end of the story, until I read my student's journal assignment entry:

     "Last Friday was a day worthy of treasuring in my life. For the first time, I worked as a translator genuinely. I, as a member of Translation and Interpretation Class, dreamed of being a translator in the future. This first attempt really blew my mind and I was smitten by the charm of being a translator.     
"After I got the assignment, doing the translation work for our foreign teacher, I indeed was excited and nervous as well. Having a close contact with foreigners was a good chance for me to put my English skills unto practice, just like a soldier with much training first came to the front in a combat. However, it was a challenge, for I knew nothing about the residence permit. I darn doubted whether I could manage the work.    
"Things was completely different when I was in the situation, I just kept my focus on the work itself instead of useless fear and worry. I'd like that the process went smoothly, but what I was really sorry for was the low efficiency of the bureau of Exit-Entry Administration, which kept them waiting for such a long time.     
"Along the day, what impressed me most was the outgoing and dynamic characteristic of Americans. They could easily make friends with others even though they were just the passer-by in the waiting room. Maybe this detail could reveal the reason why U.S. is a grandous country consist of all kind of diverse cultures. Though it was only one day for the translation work, I'd like to cherish it in my future life. And I would also keep that in my mind. Just as Roslyn and John you said: A Friend in need is a friend indeed."

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you guys are really having some unique experiences. I am glad hot see that you are overcoming obstacles re are able to make an impact on your students. I wish you both continued good luck.