So what do I do, upon getting back to Berkeley, to keep up my Arabic, to prevent the attrition that happened last time around? Enroll in an advanced Arabic class, right?
Wrong. I, on a whim, sign up for beginning Vietnamese. Commitment issues, anyone?
Vietnamese, though, is awesomely fun. The language, meh: I hate vowels, and suck at tones, so I just have to keep reminding myself that this is good for me, if only because I now know how to pronounce "pho."
The class, though, cracks me up, mostly because it is so. freaking. Asian. The teacher quietly and politely calls s tudents to the front of the class, where they quietly and politely read the assigned dialogue out loud, after which we quietly and politely applaud. Really, though, I find it so funny because the class roll looks something like this:
Hannah English Surname
That's right: I am the only non-Asian student in the class. We did a speaking exercise the other day about our nationalities, and we went around the room answering, which sounded a bit like this: "I am Vietnamese-American." "I am Vietnamese-American." "I am Vietnamese-American." "I am Vietnamese-Cambodian-American." "I am Vietnamese-Indonesian-American." "I am Vietnamese-Chinese-American." "I am...American?" Good thing the word for "American" has a rising tone--if I sound underconfident, well, it's just the language.
You know that entry in Stuff White People Like about how white people like being the only white person around? (Now you do.) And about how ethnic restaurants are only judged to be good if they're full of non-white people? Well, maybe I should start judging my language class experience by the same criteria: it may not be the most effective teaching in the world, and I may be miles behind my classmates the heritage speakers, but at the very least I am having an authentic experience.
(Oh, and I'm going to write about my trip soon, I promise. Until then, I'll whet your appetite with this picture, taken in Bethlehem:
I think my new strategy for blogging about this trip might just be to, every post, promise that I will blog soon, and include a picture with the promise. It's not a bad strategy--if I post every, oh, few days or so, I could get through my pictures in only a few years!)