Today a student of mine asked me if I like Korea, to which I replied, "Well, I like my Korean friends so I’m guessing I’d like Korea, but I’ve never been." I tossed the question back to him and he said, "no." I asked why and he said he didn’t know why. I asked if he’d been and he said he hadn’t. I asked him to explain why in Chinese and the deepest he could go is, "Korea is bad, so I don’t like."
"Do you like America?" I ventured.
After he explained it to me in Chinese we figured out that he likes America because the economy is good, although there is a lot of crime. That’s something that comes up in a lot if not every conversation I have with my students – America as a crime hotspot. Apparently we have a reputation.
Since this kid is going to America next month I wanted to see what places he could name (in English) in America. The list, in order:
1) New York
3) the White House (he only got half of it, but I’m giving it to him)
5) Yellowstone Park (again, only half of it, but there’s not a lot to work with)
He knew the Chinese names of some other cities and places, but considering the imminent departure date I kept the focus on what he could tell a stranger if pressed. It seems like he could get himself to one side of the country and back, so that’s a start!