Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Zàixiàn wàiyú xúeyuan

Mandarin lessons are over. We enjoyed them very much, and we feel we have learned a lot.

One thing I learned, although I knew it already, is that I hardly know a thing about what it means to be Chinese. I read and study and pay attention, and I feel like, at some point, I should start to know what I'm talking about. I suppose my efforts have made me genuinely less ignorant than most Westerners. But the more I listen, the more I learn that there is still so much to learn. The Chinese worldview, Chinese history, the roles of tradition, sentimentality, and practicality - these are all fish in a river. I can try to catch them, but at the moment they are slippery and I am ill-equipped.

But my family is becoming multicultural. Not only is AwesomeCloud going to become an American... we will also, to some small degree, become Chinese. I take this responsibility very seriously. GuiGui should keep some of his Chinese heritage, and it's up to me to make sure he does, and in order to do that, I must become a little bit Chinese.

My family is already multicultural; the Italians came to America and made great efforts to assimilate into American culture. As our Italian identities faded, we began to value them more, and now we try to hold onto what little heritage we have left. After spending 80 years being as American as possible, what's left is really a bunch of stories and echoes. Our Chinese culture will be even harder to hold onto, because it's so brand new and so incomplete. We're building it up instead of casting it off. AwesomeCloud may, at times, complain that it's phony and wrong. But we have to try. If we don't try, we'll be cutting him off from his culture far more than necessary. And when he's old enough to look back and assess our actions, he'd conclude we didn't care.

Therefore, we must care.

I hardly slept last night. The wait for TA (travel arrangements, which is actually a misnomer, as what we get is a consulate date and a 'Gotcha Day' date, an then we make all the travel arrangements ourselves) becomes increasingly tense. It's still quite possible for us to travel in September. But if we don't get the call within the next week, we're likely to run into the Chinese holiday in October, and there will be no consulate appointments during that time. (It's a multiday holiday, and there will be a lot of people traveling within China. We'd be looking of a delay of essentially one month, the way things work out.)

Insulation Guy #1 is here, taking measurements and giving us an estimate. He's from Russia. I love how multicultural the construction industry is. Insulation Guy #2 will come later this morning to do the same thing and give us another estimate to choose from. I insist on more than the minimum amount of insulation. Pay more now, stay warm later!


  1. Hopefully it will come soon. Did you ever find out your Article 5 approval date???

  2. No, I never learned the exact date. I emailed Pam a few days after you announced you had Article 5, and she replied that I had it too. But I didn't bother emailing her back to ask for more details. I figure if I fill up her time with lots of emails, she'll have less time to do important things, like the paperwork of all the other families.

    She said she'd call me immediately upon receiving my TA. I'm going to trust her to do that. It didn't come today, though.