Since I don’t want to get out, I speak English. Let’s avoid a diplomatic breakdown.
During morning classes, we have to stand our ground in the u-shaped classroom. The French on one side and the Americans on the other. The teacher is Chinese but he translates non-stop in broken English. We don’t speak Shakespeare’s language. We do we what we do best : we protest.
We tease each other loudly. Funny to see no one really need translation. Chirac just came back from a trip to China. Alright, not our best ambassador… We fight back making fun of Clinton and Lewinsky. They retort with Mitterrand and his mistresses.
2-0 the New World.
The teacher shouts to calm us down. It’s the final struggle and everyone head towards the MacDonald’s to avoid eating another rice meal in its little plastic box.
We did talk to each other tough. The war in Kosovo was this summer of 99’s big issue. Americans generally considered us as hopeless socialists and we though they were dumber than their president.
— This war was useless and harmful to civilians ! Don’t you get it ? You can’t truly believe the USA helped anybody by bombing villages !
— Yep. We agree. This war was a major waste of time for us. We were too generous. The money should have stayed in the USA.
Our only revenge was the daily morning singing class. It was just so fun to see all the Americans singing aloud Chinese Communist Party’s song !
|The east is red, the sun is rising.
China has brought forth a Mao Zedong.
He amasses fortune for the people,
Hurrah, he is the people’s great savior.
Chairman Mao loves the people,
He is our guide,
To build a new China,
Hurrah, he leads us forward!
The Communist Party is like the sun,
Wherever it shines, it is bright.
Wherever there is a Communist Party,
Hurrah, there the people are liberated!
I will always remember them. The first Americans I met. We were bound to hate each other in a country none of us, foreigners, truly understood. Talk about a culture shock !
After all, we were French. And French don’t work but always surrender, French are rude to foreigners, arrogant, ungrateful and conceited. French must love China since they live in a bureaucratic Socialist system where they totally depend on that State to survive. And above all, French don’t use soap. Gross. Just gross.
Really ? Well, why would we use extra-soap for arrogant moralizing Americans ? I mean, these people have no history and they keep on shooting each other when things go wrong, right ? And what were these capitalist warmongers doing in China anyway ? Spying for the West bloc ?
The only thing we both agreed on was we couldn’t really trust the Chinese. We couldn’t really argue with them cause, well, you know, they’re pretty good at Kung Fu and were all trained in Shaolin temple somewhere up in the foggy mountains of Tibet. Besides, they all had been brainwashed into worshipping Chairman Mao. Damn Communists. Oops, did I say that aloud ? Watch for microphone, I don’t wanna end up in a Xianjiang’s jail !
Mind you, Chinese would have had their reasons to stay away from us. Mostly cause you know, foreigners are just in University for fun and they don’t actually study. They hate their families too, they have no respect for their parents. But hey, we take pity on them. I mean, they live in a very dangerous world were they shoot each other all the time and go on war for no reason. Man, they are stupid, aren’t they !
But we had to live together like a mini United Nation. The rooms were small at the University and we had to share everything : showers, bathrooms, mattresses… yes, mattress, cause beds were hard as a rock and some of us had managed to steal extra-mattresses from Yan Laoshi, the janitor. We were all woken up by the constructions in front of the building at 5 am and we would meet each other on the steps of main entrance, still sleepy. We smoked the weed we picked in Beijing’s main parks – humid Chinese summers does miracle when it comes to this kind of product. None of us had rolling paper so we had adopted the Hui’s technique : we rolled a sheet of newspaper in a cone. Yes, I smoked the ????, the People’s Daily Newspaper. No, I was Socialist before, it wasn’t a side effect.
We sure teased each other. But it turned out the Americans really didn’t bring any guns with them. And they seemed to enjoy taking picture of old building cause they didn’t have many of these at home, so we couldn’t really blame them, right ? You won’t believe it, but some of them were borderline Communists too !
So we compromised. We used extra soap (since it was l’Oréal, the Americans though we were actually really posh) and stopped bothering everyone about the fact we were once the center of the world. We quite enjoyed learning US slang too.
It’s 1am and I’m lying on the couch, watching CNN. And I suddenly had this crazy though. What if we sent all our political and religious leaders on a desert island ? Forced to live together. Forced to learn about each other. Forced to find compromise. Like us, in China.