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Lost in translation…

April 25, 2008

A comment one of the guys made tonight inspired me to write a little about the foreign exchange students that my family hosts. I stopped by the house for dinner on my way home and the basketball team was there again. (I never know who will be at that house when I stop by!) As we were finishing with dinner our two foreign exchange “students” (it’s actually two of the sponsors) came home and big-mouth Ryan asks out loud “do they think you are cute, Jenny?” Thanks a lot, Ryan! I’m like, “um, they speak English…” So that was a little embarassing…We’ve had some funny moments with the many different students, and I don’t even live there, I am sure my family could list a lot more than I could! One of the first guys we had was back at Christmas time and he was from Japan. I remember he was so mesmerized by the Christmas tree, he would just stand and watch it twirl around. When I was decorating it he came and watched me for so long that I had him help me put ornaments on the tree.  (You never know how much American culture each student is familiar with, which English words they know, or how fast/slow you need to talk. You want them to understand, but you don’t want them to feel you are “babying” them as some of them speak almost perfect English!) So when he looked puzzled and finally pulled a candy cane off the tree, I broke it and gave him a piece to eat. “Mmm, sweet!” he said, and then asked me “does everyone in America like peppermint?” Then we had two little kids from Japan as well as two guys from Uzbekistan and all four of them were here for Christmas, that was probably the most interesting “Christmas” we  have had yet. I think the very first guy we had was from Belgium and he was supposed to be here for a year. He spoke really great English, although he did still make mistakes. He kept calling his stepfather his Father-in-Law. Then there was the Brazil guy, he was a lot older than the rest of the guys, like 28 I think. Everyone thought it would be funny to try and hook me up with him, nice. Then we had two Korean girls who laughed at everything and told me I was a good sister because I loved my brothers. I think one of them liked Tommy. Then we had our first Thai students. My family could never figure out why their room smelled so bad after a while. My mom would wash all their laundry and sheets, put powder in their smelly shoes and still the room smelled. Finally one day she discovered the fact that one of the boys hadn’t been eating the lunches she had been making for them every day. Instead he was eating junk food that a friend was bringing to school (and hence he wasn’t hungry for lunch). But instead of just throwing the lunches away, he had been saving them all in his backpack, and in various places in the room. He had done that for almost a MONTH!  She said it smelled much better once all that was thrown away! The last students we had kept coming into the kitchen and asking “ma’ ma?” We thought they were calling my mom “Mama” until somehow we realized “ma’ma” (sp?) is “noodles” in Thai and they just wanted noodles for dinner.

I can always tell that there are new people at the house (my family doesn’t usually tell me) when I go into the guest bathroom because there will be lots of new products on the counter. They are usually in some other language, but they usually have pictures of white people on them, I am not sure why. Sometimes the products are in English as well and I have seen some really funny titles/brands! I can’t remember any at the moment 😦 but there have been lots of times I have walked in there and started laughing because some of it is so funny. Or the “English” shirts that the kids come in wearing. They will say things in English, but the “English”vreally doesn’t make any sense.

We also had two Chinese men who came a few months back and got saved when they went to a Chinese Bible study so that was awesome! It’s nice to have such a multiethnic church so that when we have these students we also have people who can communicate with them much better than we can. It’s exciting to think that a lot of these students come from countries that are closed to the Gospel, but they will certainly hear it when they come to church with us!


One Comment leave one →
  1. April 25, 2008 7:55 pm

    That’s a great ministry to host foreign exchange students in your family’s home.

    Even though I was born in America, there were still expressions I had never heard until college like, “Let’s blow this popsicle stand.” My cousin from Taiwan kept looking up when people would say, “What’s up?”

    I’ll be tutoring a Korean student soon, so it’ll be interesting to see what we learn from each other.

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