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Monday, Sep. 1, 2014

Jenga Blocks Have a Funny Way of Falling

Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008, at 5:41 AM

Nate James is a local from McCook currently teaching English to college students in China. How did he wind up with such a crazy job exactly? Dazed, confused and yet oddly satisfied with his current surroundings - he continues to trod along through a series of miscommunications and broken egg shells. This blog is about fresh experiences, and new places while he attempts an Orient oriented orientation.

I have a friend. This friend was at a convention once and a very nice, well dressed Muslim started chatting with him. He asked him if he knew about his faith and wondered if he would like a free Quar'an to delve deeper into the hidden wonders of Islam. My friend said he would enjoy that very much and took the Quar'an. The well dressed, very nice Muslim proceeded to tell him that the *typical* donation is twenty dollars. My friend very politely handed him one dollar. The very nice Muslim looked at him in aghast horror and said that the typical donation is twenty dollars. My friend proceeded to remind him that he is not any ordinary man and that he was prepared to donate a very handsome sum of one dollar.

My point: Don't call it a donation if that's not what it is.

Nate James is in fact alive and well. The earthquake which has killed about 50,000 people happened a few hours away and I didn't feel a thing. I was blissfully sleeping or playing video games or whatever else I do to waste time these days.

50,000. Think about that for a moment. I'm from a town of 8,000. Every single person I've ever known and loved and then some. Everyone from Kearney, North Platte, McCook - everyone. 1/30th of the state of Nebraska. Just decimated under piles upon piles of rubble.

That's a pretty grim mental image and that picture doesn't help things. I believe the earthquake was a 7.9 on the Richter scale.

(This has been a pretty bad year for China all things considered. Remind me to tell you about the conspiracy theory)

The buildings probably collapsed because of poor construction methods and the fact that this particular region never has earthquakes. The buildings weren't optimized for them. Even if they were, Chinese people ain't exactly methodical when it comes to building regulations with 80-90% of their buildings and I'm sure you've just seen the consequences of it. I have no doubt that a few shakes of the crust of earth underneath me would bring my bones to a shattering halt.

However, my mobile home in America (as a kid) wasn't Tornado proof either. I still lived there. Point is - you can't run away from disasters. They'll happen everywhere. Except maybe Rhode Island. You never hear about jack from them. Maybe it's time for me to practice my Rhode Islandianism..er..yeah.

There is one thing I can't stand, though. Chinese obsession with money. Or rather *donations.* This is a huge cultural difference and one that I find very insulting at times. They call these magical payments "donations", but what they really are is mandatory recovery money. Who cares that this is part of your paycheck and that you worked every single one of those hours. This Money is taken out of people's paychecks without their consent*. Students are encouraged (see: ordered) to donate money. Schools and colleges have competitions to see who donated the most. They completely the miss the point of what a donation actually is.

*This nonsense doesn't apply to me though because it's hard enough to find foreign teachers (me) to work in this city. They don't want to make us angry. Like the Hulk. Grr.

Aside from the mandatory donations which I find completely appalling - there's also the fact that everyone seems to value your worth based on how much you donated. Forget the fact that you donated at all. Who gives a rat's sass? The fact that you donated your hard earned money out of the kindness of your heart to help those less fortunate than yourself? That really doesn't matter. You're still worthless. How *much* did you donate? That will tell us more about how much you care about China.

So the American government donated $500,000 with 50,000 casualties. Hurricane Katrina had 2000 casualties and China donated 5 million dollars. They're a bit ungrateful at our government's few shillings thrown down upon their unwashed groveling feet. Not that we don't have problems of our own in the States. We do. But I can't help but agree with them. However, a donation is a donation and you shouldn't be ungrateful about it. That's why I think Christmas should be celebrated around the world. You learn not to be angry with gifts like socks and underwear with pink, fictitious characters on them*

*Thanks Mom, I loved them. Really.

However. I always have something to back my country up with. You guys never let me down. The American Red Cross donated something like 10 million dollars. You guys rock and I never miss a chance to bring these hooligans down a few knotches when they start bashing our government's microscopic donations.

The international stage seems to view our government as our representative. As well they should. However, in many cases, we tend to disagree. Keep showing everyone that we dominate despite our government's erroneous ways. Keep making me proud from across the Pacific.

If you like my blog about China: Check out This one

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

reminding you about the conspiracy theory.

-- Posted by billybobi on Tue, May 27, 2008, at 12:03 PM

How ironic. I in fact know someone who currently practices Rhode Islandianism, and believe it or not, he thinks Tom Cruise is his savior also. Crazy huh?

-- Posted by MaskedRose on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 2:55 PM

So disastrous things *do* happen to Rhode Island.

-- Posted by natejames on Thu, May 29, 2008, at 7:04 AM

Have you noticed how the Chinese can walk past 20 or so hideously deformed and disabled beggars and pretend to be 100% oblivious? I commend the people of China for their generosity, but don't think for a second that it was selfless. People desperately in need of help and support didn't just spring up overnight in his country.

-- Posted by riceagain.com on Mon, Jun 2, 2008, at 1:00 AM

Hah. I do the same thing. Dudes scare me. Deformed people don't beg in the States - they kick ass, instead.

Especially the beggars that just come into my taxi as if I invited them or called them over.

I used to feel bad about it but that nonsense isn't a profession and they shouldn't treat it like one.

-- Posted by natejames on Mon, Jun 2, 2008, at 5:02 AM


Please correct your attitude one degree, as it is you that represents our nation, and government, not as you stated. You are on the front line, the only visable representative of our Nation. An 'off the wall' statement by you will carry more weight, with any native people, than an official statement, or donation, by our government, expecially, if you think it erroneous (see Webster). What, Who, and how, you represent self, and country, in their eyes, carries far greater import than your 'individual' ability to 'do' or 'teach.'

Sorry for the lecture, but I have been to many countries, and they all see the person with the same eyes, 'The person represents the country and what it stands for.'

Have a great experience, and Shalom in Christ, Arley Steinhour

-- Posted by Navyblue on Wed, Jun 4, 2008, at 9:42 AM

"Please correct your attitude one degree, as it is you that represents our nation, and government, not as you stated. " With all due respect, I'm going to have to disagree. They watch Sharon Stone and Dollar bills far more than they look to me as a representative. If I act a certain way, which is usually as nice as I can be, I'm merely an exception. I am not the rule. In many cases, the government sets the tone for how the international stage perceives us rather than the individual. I see this when I speak with any other foreigners including the British and Chinese, whom I interact with on a daily basis.

And, I believe it's in a government's nature to be erroneous (see Typos happen. Point in case: "What, Who, and how" -- here 'Who' should not be capitalized) as it is based on human beings' decisions.

-- Posted by natejames on Thu, Jun 5, 2008, at 7:19 AM

Upon inquiry to Webster, as you suggested, I believe I'm correct in the original post.

-- Posted by natejames on Thu, Jun 5, 2008, at 7:24 AM

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