I want to share three anecdotes.
1. In Taiwan, a white female American, my friend and co-worker, was once asked by a white male American, “So it’s really hard to be a foreign girl in Taiwan, right? Competing with all these Asian girls for foreigner guys?”
He actually SAID that. He didn’t just think it; those are the words he chose. He let them out of his mouth.
2. When I visited Korea, I had a questionable, drunken sexual experience I barely remembered the next morning with a Canadian expat. The one bit I have a vivid memory of is the moment he said to me, in the wee hours of the morning, “Wow, crazy. I never even sleep with white girls anymore, being here.”
… Thank you?
3. My closest Taiwanese friend here, a lovely lady in her mid-twenties, was told by a male American that she was being weird and prudish when she wouldn’t drop her panties for him on a first date, that it’d be normal back in America.
… What was he expecting? “Oh, in that case – silly me; here’s my vagina”?
These are three manifestations of this idea many people seem to have that male expats will get all the pussy in Taiwan, female expats will be dried up and lonely, and, APPARENTLY, that Taiwanese guys don’t get to come into the picture at all. This last point is the only one worth fully addressing. (I don’t care how much anyone is getting laid – so if you’re getting all the pussy, more power to you [though you’d best be eatin’ it; I will say that] – and defending female foreigners, or myself specifically, is stupid, because we’re not insecure enough that that’s necessary.) But news flash, folks: acting as though Taiwanese men aren’t competition is insulting and racist at worst, and incorrect and absurd at best.
Female expats are more open to dating Taiwanese guys (or girls!) than you might think. Taiwanese girls might not be as swoony for white guys as you think. And just as with any person – a white person, a black person, a Chilean, an Italian, whatever – a Taiwanese person is hot if you’re into them and not if you’re not. Funny how that works.
This afternoon, when Jim and his brother came to the office after class, Jim told my coworker, Sam, “Mr Sam, Miss Eliza can say Chinese!” (I’d said a few very simple words in Chinese during a field trip a few days ago.)
But Jim now seems to think that I can actually speak Chinese. And the way he started telling Sam about it so earnestly and excitedly… He sounded genuinely impressed – proud of me even. Like he was bragging about me.
And dammit, I will make him proud. Just you wait, Jim. Bragging rights coming your way.
Jim gave me this today.
My favorite aspect of this, obviously, is that he cut it into two pieces but still made sure to bring me both. Or maybe there were three pieces. Or four! – And he just brought me his two favorites; I don’t know! Or his two least favorites! He’s a man of mystery.
Also, we played a game today in which the kids had to balance things on their heads and race (slowly). Jim couldn’t play. He simply could not. His head is too weird a shape.
I love him.
Jim and his older brother hang out in the office of the school after class while they wait to be picked up. They chat with us – (me and the other two foreign teachers) – in English, tear apart our desks, draw us pictures, practice writing their English names with us, give us basic vocab lessons in Chinese…
Today I was out of the office for a bit and came back to find this note, which my co-worker had lovingly dictated, letter by letter, to an unwitting Jay.
Oh, I’M the “traim” wreck, huh, Speller Of The Year?
(…To be fair, I totally can be. Me going all the way home after work only to realize I’ve forgotten my wallet and keys on my desk has become a running joke.)
With the class in which Jim (my favorite young rock star) is a student, I’ve been playing a card game in which three students come up, I show them a picture of a new phonics word and they flip over one card that’s on the ground. Some of the cards have letters – and if they turn over the same letter as the beginning letter of the phonics picture, their team gets a point. If they flip over a card that has a silly picture or word, they need to do whatever the silly picture or word is telling them to do. For example, we have a card with a picture of a hand that means, “Give Miss Eliza a high five!” We have a card with a picture of a monkey that means, “Dance like a monkey back to your chair!” Etc. Loads of fun.
One card has musical notes and says, “SING,” and if a kid turns it over, it means they have to sing a song for the class. Jim, every single time we play, technically cheating but in a way I refuse to reprimand, turns cards over *until* he finds this card – his favorite. Even though he’s been hunting for the card and the opportunity to sing to his class, he always gets shy and requires a little coaxing. He holds my hand, looks at his feet a bit, and breaks into what I might call a Taiwanese folk song – in the Taiwanese language, which is no longer widely spoken. His classmates love it. He loves it. I super-love it. I don’t know how many people in the room can understand it, but it’s great for everyone.
Let your students sing! Beautiful things will happen!
Had a 中文考試 (Chinese test) 今天 (today).
When I was meant to say, “你请我Ni3qing3wo3 (You treat me),” my tones were off and I accidentally said “你亲我Ni3qin1wo3 (You kiss me).”
My wonderful flawless 老師 (tutor) said, “Don’t say that; that’s a bit awkward and we [the Taiwanese population?] will be quite shocked.”