Seeing Outside the Well

We've still been heading over to Chinese church every Sunday afternoon, and, yes, I'm still an oddity there. However, I don't feel that out of place anymore.  There are certain ladies that I carry a conversation with after church, and the others are always so kind to me. Having said that, I still think that they don't really "get" my being there.

Jake is still pretty defiant. Although, he has forgotten a lot, he knows some Chinese words but acts like Chinese is a very foreign language and starts acting very naughty when he is spoken to in Chinese. We are going to keep trying.  Jake's Chinese tutor told the Sunday School teacher not to use ANY English in the classroom as she was re-explaining things to Jake in English. By the way, have I told you how much I love her? She is so interesting to talk to --- so insightful, incredibly smart, and a wonderful teacher!

Now that they are a little more comfortable around me, my new Chinese friends have asked some of the questions they are curious about like, "Why did you adopt again if you already had a boy and a girl?", "Why didn't you get girls? Americans only adopt girls!", "Why didn't you get a baby?".

I've also learned that many Chinese think Americans are like "Frogs in a Well." I don't remember the Chinese words of this saying, but it's the thought that many of us completely oblivious to how other people live and work in other countries. We only view the world from our own surroundings so we only see as far as the "top of the well".  I was discussing this with our Chinese tutor.  Do I think this is true? Only in some respects.  After all, look how many places in the world we've sent our troops and how many countries we've bailed out or provided funds to.  However, does the average, non-military American really know how other cultures really live? Most everyone I run across could not identify where Kazakhstan is on a map much less be able to say anything about the country - myself included.  I had to learn before I went.  I don't think we put an emphasis and effort in really keeping our children informed about events happening in the world around us.  I think we get too comfortable sometimes in our own realm and forget to keep learning and trying to understand where people come from and learn about the circumstances of others.

Learning more and viewing from "outside the well", will give a deeper understanding and a clearer picture of what people may be going through. For example, have you ever walked into an ethnic restaurant and thought, "Sheesh! Why can't they learn English if they are going to live here!".  Of course we think they should be English speaking since they are living in our America. But let's think about some things:  America is, after all, the "melting pot." Our nation grew out of hard working immigrants desiring a better life. And secondly?  I now know some of those non-English speaking people who have been here for 16 years! I've come to find out that they reason they are not speaking English isn't because they are lazy. Quite the contrary! They are working in a back kitchen cooking 7 days a week all day long so they can support their family, their child, their live-in in-laws, and send money back home to care for their parents. Would you have time to be fluent in a second language?

My point is, there is so much to learn and understand about other people. Sometimes, we just need some compassion for others and a broader mind to go along with it.  When we get too comfortable, our view becomes narrow-minded and we become the "frogs in the well."

sidknee  – (March 3, 2011 at 10:02 AM)  

Very good Heather, it's really a good read for everyone.

Julie  – (March 3, 2011 at 3:24 PM)  

Well said! People always question us as to why we take the kids with us when we travel internationally. Our response is that we brought them into this world and now we want to show it to them. We feel it is important for them to see the world...from the gypsies in Paris who tried to take my father-in-law's wallet/passport (while we were all standing there) to the wonderful gentle people in Japan. We have met so many interesting people and we feel that is only enriching our children's lives.

Julie  – (March 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM)  

Oh, and of course, that is why we took them to China with us. We wanted them to see and experience their baby brother's culture. :)

Anonymous –   – (March 4, 2011 at 5:43 AM)  

I think with many people it's not about being too comfortable in our own realm but that it's uncomfortable knowing about those who live in horrible circumstances, especially if we know we aren't going to do anything to help.

Omi

Tina Michelle  – (March 4, 2011 at 3:30 PM)  

Nicely written. I remember the chinese story of the frog in the well. It was an eye opener when I read it. Thanks for the reminder.

The Raudenbush Family  – (March 7, 2011 at 9:50 AM)  

Really interesting -- I've never heard that expression and I shamefully think it's true.

Look at you, famous lady. Did you see Tonggu Momma's post?

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