Welcome to my home

Welcome to my home

Friday, November 28, 2008

I wrote this without revision...so take it for what it's worth

Well, another American holdiay has come and gone. In the few days before Thanksgiving I did my best to explain the concept of the holiday to my host family and a few various community members with whom I have frequent cause for interaction. But, it was quickly made apparent to me that unless you are an American, or have the chance to see the holiday as it is celebrated with a lot of Americans around, it is a very tough holiday to understand. To us (that is, Americans) it seems simple. Sure, it's a day to give thanks. Easy enough, right? But for some reason or another the holiday doesn't translate very well.
"So, it was a bunch of really dirty people that had no food?"
"And then the Native Americans gave them food?"
"And then they killed the Native Americans?"
"No, they ate dinner with them."
"And now it's a holiday?
"To say thank you."
"Do the Native Americans still give you food?"
"No, we killed them?"
"After you ate dinner with them?"
"No, well, yes."
At this point in the conversation every single Armenian, without exception, beat their hand against their mouth while making a whooping war cry reminiscent of some movie they had seen.

So, rather than allow the conversation to repeat itself for my students, I did my best in the English clubs I run to explain the Tanksgiving Story via hand drawn comic strip on the chalkboard. But, that wasn't too successful, probably because I was relying heavily on stick figures as means for communications, and contrary to popular belief, stick figures are not ideal for conveying complex emotions. I don't know. I guess some things were just meant to be mysteries. But, Thanksgiving evening my grandpa did bust out the homemade vodka to celebrate. He didn't really grasp the full concept, but he understood that it was important to me. I swear, my grandpa is the man.

On a slightly different note...

Ever since I moved to my village, I've heard rumors whispered around the streets for some mythical German that supposedly lives in the village. And having lived in Germany, I thought, "Well, wouldn't it be dandy if I could meet this person. Maybe sit down and have a nice little conversation about the West." But, my efforts to locate this person up until now have been fruitless. Everytime I ask people directly, they just look at me like I'm an idiot. (Sidenote, that is usually the look I get from them anyways.) So, for the past few weeks, I've abandoned my quest to locate this fellow foreigner within the village...until two weeks ago.

There I was, walking home from work, and what should I hear, but the frightened sound of a small child screaming for his mother about the German. So, my ears perked up and my eyes did a quick swivel to finally put a face to this person. But, alas, I am the only one on the street. And, as I walked past the child, who was now clinging to his mother's dress in fear, I hear the kid say, "Does it speak Armenian?" to which the mother replied, "No, it speaks German." to which I replied, "Nice weather we have today." in Armenian...ah to be German. Nothing makes sense anymore. I advise to just give in to lunacy.


Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

I would laugh at them, but to be honest it sounds like they understand American history better than most Americans do. Although it sounds like the Armenians are missing the true spirit of Thanksgiving, I understand their confusion.
And if it makes you feel better Scott, I don't think that you're a scary German.

Alli said...

For what it's worth, I also have difficultly explaining Thanksgiving to Russians. They pick up right away on the disconnect between having a celebratory feast with the Indians and killing them all. My host mom's son-in-law kept asking over and over, "So, you're giving thanks to the Indians?"

Bummer that you turned out to be the mystery German. Is it a peculiarity of the Armenian language that they referred to you as an "it" rather than a "he?" What do you have to do to become a "he?"

Alli said...

"difficulty" not "difficultly"

Claire said...

Oh Scott.
I've enjoyed reading the last 4 blogs I hadn't read yet. I'm really curious how things turned out with the living situation, as the 15th is creeping up very soon now. I want you to have heat and water. Call me a softy. By the way, I was thinking...could you take a dog off the street and keep him in your apartment and have a buddy? Or would people find out and think you're something worse than just the crazy German?
Anyhow, I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading the blogs. Keep up the good work, you've made so much progress. It's amazing. That's all for now....

Ashley said...

I think that you should have responded in English. That would have showed them! I think your explanation summed up the holiday well, but maybe if you had brought them food, they would have had a greater appreciation. Just a thought. Hope you enjoyed the movie! Miss you!

Cara said...

Hey Scott, long time no see. I came across your blog by your facebook status and thought I would give it a looksy since i too am teaching English abroad (though I imagine not in the same conditions). I think you have a real knack for writing and I find your blog very entertaining. I hope you continue to write and perhaps look into making a book or something out of it, you never know. I am a lover of memoirs, thus I'm biased, but hey.... A book you might enjoy while you're over there is "Three Cups of Tea" it's about a man who started a foundation building schools for children in Pakistan and it really spoke to me as it might to you too. Hope everything continues to go semi-smootly there. :) Keep up the good work.

-Cara Clonch