It’s Thanksgivingday weekend and time for me to share what I am thankful for. Being “stuck” in America for so long hasn’t been something that I was expecting. Recently, I’ve tried not to dwell upon my holiday lessons, which I so much look forward to each year and are not to happen for 2020. Instead, I’m concentrating on the connection I do have with my China. I am so appreciative that our modern technology allows me to stay in touch with others around the world. How does this take place? Through WeChat!
WeChat is similar to Facebook and is used throughout China for instant communication with others through this special phone App. My WeChat account has a “Moments” page where I blog and post pictures of the topics I cover. I post teaching videos or walk-about-my-town clips. I record me and my mom singing or my hometown church in worship. I also have individual communication chats with all my Chinese friends so we can share what we’re doing on a daily basis.
Expanding my connections even more, I also belong to numerous WeChat groups: My college’s alums, my former students’, my Luzhou church groups (church choir, daily scripture readings, English prayer learners), my college English department, Foreigners in Luzhou, and my college students (English Association, English Corner Extravaganza, English Center volunteers).
One of my Favorite WeChat Groups: Connie’s English Corner
Connie’s English Corner is one of my favorites. A very motivated Luzhou Vocational and Technical College alum, a Business English major, started this among her classmates. Her English name is Stacey and, while she was not one of my students, many others she knew were. Stacey (now married and expecting her second child) has been doing online courses to qualify for an English Translation certification. Her drive to improve her English is quite commendable. She began her English WeChat group to help unite her former English-speaking friends and classmates but also to help her in her own studies in English.
After I joined her group, she decided to change the name to Connie’s English Corner, and so it has remained for several years.
A Close-knit, Long-distance Community
One of the reasons I rejoice in this special connection with all who have joined is their infectious humorous banter back and forth, not to mention their heartfelt sharing of their lives. You can feel the close-knit comaraderie among this special crowd, separated by miles, provinces, countries and even half the world, as in my case. The good-natured quips, joking comments, wicked teasing and shared sharp wit lift my spirits and make me truly grateful to have met each and every one of these young adults.
Their English names fill my chat box: Stacey, Mike, Herbert, Jason, Melody, Sarah, Violet, Alex, Ivy, Emily, Frida, and Hanna. Their busy lives with family and jobs never seem to interfere with taking time to post happenings of the week or day. Here are a few from the past few months.
Connie’s Mistake; Herbert’s Modeling Career
(Background: Herbert’s company sells Halloween decor to overseas’ partners, from masks to animated figures to ghoulish mannequins.)
Jason: Are you a mask model?
Herbert: Professional. Free of charge. Only like to show it with photos.
Connie: My favorite is the pug (That’s a kind of dig).
Jason: @ Connie — Dog!! Wrongly spilt.
Stacey: @ Jason — Spelled, not spilt. Wrongly spelled.
Jason: So bad!
Connie: Not as bad a mistake as I made. I’m the native speaker!!
Stacey: And the English teacher. (winking emoji)
Connie (crying face): So sad.
Stacey’s WeChat Lament
(Stacey, pregnant with her second child, is doing online courses for an English Translation certificate. She had an in-person exam at a campus testing center and while waiting for her husband to pick her up, and re-hashing her test answers, she sent the below.)
Stacey: My god! I translated “world environment” wrong in my exam. I realized it at the last minute but the right word did not appear in my brain. I just attended an exam today, translation exam. We had two parts. Morning and afternoon. I am seated in a chair on the campus right now, waiting for my husband to drive me home. What a pity I wronged a word. Maybe 2 points or more is lost due to it. I wrote “inport” in last year’s exam. Today I made same mistake on easy words.
Connie: Don’t feel so bad. It happens! Do you remember Dean Li Xiaolian? Her mistake was tragic on her PhD entrance exam for the program at Beijing University. She passed the English interview with high marks. She easily passed the Chinese parts of the exam (teaching methodology, Communist Party Principles, philosophy and others) after studying for 8 months. Then came the very simple English section. Her BA and MA were in English. How could she possibly fail the basic English section of the standard PhD test? She easily whizzed through it and waited until the next day when she confidently knew she’d be asked into the PhD program. But when the committee invited her to sit in the office, she was told all her scores were outstanding except for one: The English section. In shock, she was told she had accidentally skipped a question when she filled in the ovals, meaning every question after the one she skipped (which was Number 2) had the incorrect answer for all the other 33 questions. Thus she failed. And because there was an age limit to studying for a PhD, she wasn’t qualified to try again the next year.
Stacey: What a pity for her!
Connie: Yes. She said she cried almost every day for 2 months.
Stacey: I will attend more English exams.
Connie: Do you feel nervous?
Stacey: Now I no longer feel nervous about exams. I am a veteran.
Connie: How about the baby?
Stacey: The baby will be born within half a month.
Connie: That’s so exciting. Such a lucky baby to have such a good, and intelligent, mother.
A plea for help that disintegrates into congenial ribbing
(Violet, working in a government position, was asked to translate for her department head a many-paged document with specialized, political language. She attached the Chinese document and announced the below. )
Violet: Who will help me translate this?
Jason: I can’t.
Stacey: Too much! I’m powerless
Luo: How about Mike?
(No answer. 5 hours later)
Jason: Where r u, Mike?
Melody: Where is Mike? Violet needs you! Eagerly needs you.
Connie: @ Violet. There are many Apps that can be downloaded which can translate difficult documents into English. I know WeChat has one. Look on your Chinese websites and see what you can find.
Jason: A very good idea.
Stacey: It’s a big project. You can hire someone to do it.
Jason: Yes. Hire someone. Hire someone.
(Silence until a day later)
Mike: Hey! What happened? Seems I have missed getting tens of millions of $.
Stacey: Yes, Mike, you are wanted!
Mike: I have been tied up with work stuff.
Jason: A good excuse. How is your translation work now, Violet?
Melody: I think not even started.
Violet: Just like Melody said — not even started.
Melody: Ah! I am right. How well I know you, Violet!
Jason: Of Course. After all, you two used to skip classes together.
Melody: Nonsense! We were the hardworking ones. If not, we wouldn’t be good friends and successful women.
Jason. Well, there must be something wrong with my memory. My memory is hard work shopping.
Violet’s emoji followed:
Ah, how I love this group! Can’t wait for us to meet up again in future correspondence via WeChat. And when I do return to China, we are planning a large reunion on the new campus of Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. What a joyful day that will be!