Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Tad Behind The Times

I start all of my adult advanced English classes the same way. Every time class starts, we have a fifteen to thirty minute discussion on a pre-assigned topic.

At the the beginning of the semester I have all the students write on a piece of paper a topic they'd like to talk about. We then draw a topic at the end of class to discuss for the next class. I figure this keeps them interested and allows them to think about school on their off days rather than assigning homework, which the adults never do anyways.

So the topic in one of my classes the other day was "My Ideal Lover." First off, don't get too excited. The students didn't want to talk about flexible women, or well-endowed men. The topic is "lost in translation." What it really means is, "my ideal boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife." Yeah, much more boring.

I called on the first student, an 18 year old, and asked, "What is your ideal girlfriend like?" He immediately replied, "My ideal girlfriend is very beautiful and must be good at housework." Nobody batted an eye in the class, not even the four girls who were present. I said, "Really? That's it?" The kid nodded his head as if to say, "Obviously, idiot." I called on another guy and got nearly the same answer, "My ideal girlfriend must be beautiful and cook and clean well." The third guy I called on said something pretty hilarious: "I was married six months ago and she is not my ideal lover." "You mean your wife is your ideal lover, right?" I asked. "No. She is not. I don't know what my ideal lover is like." I wonder if he said that when he proposed.

I wrote a long time ago how Huyen told me right when we started dating that she, "didn't want to be a slave to her husband." Hearing first hand the attitudes on sexual equality made Huyen's point a lot clearer to me. It also made something else clearer to me, Huyen problem likes me because no Vietnamese men would want her! I'm her last resort!

I don't like to impose my political/social views on my classes but the discussion was still bothering me during my next class that night. It was time to assign a topic and I said, "I'm going to choose the topic for next week. The topic is When Will A Woman Be The President of Vietnam?" Immediately a boy said, "Never." I was about to say something when one of the girls proudly said, "I'm gonna be the President of Vietnam." There is hope. We'll find out exactly how much tomorrow when my class talks about the topic.