Mostly Famous

Matt and I were asked last night by our boss Trisha to be on TV – National Chinese TV.

Here, my motto has been to say, "Yes," against my hesitant nature, in order to get the most experiences we can. On Thursday, this policy won us a fancy feast celebrating the 59th anniversary of the People’s Republic, where we gorged on some much-missed Western food and met the Deputy Director of the Provincial Government and the Director of Education. Because of the language barrier, though, this also means I’m signing up for things I don’t completely understand.

Camera ManFrom Chinese Film Debut

So at 9 AM, we met a student from Nanjing University, Danielle, who was our translator, and Mr. Chen, the director, along with the camera man, a volunteer actor, and two guys our age at Xuanwu (shwan-woo) Lake, which sparkled in the morning sunshine. The crew was interested in capturing the friendliness of Nanjing. First the Chinese actor, then Matt, had to stand and smile at people passing by, while a camera man hid in the bushes to see if the unsuspecting park strollers smiled back. One family asked to take a picture with Matt! I don’t blame the park visitors who failed to smile – Matt and the Chinese actor looked sketchy hanging around, smiling at people, walking backward and forward. Later, the director would pull people who passed Matt over and ask them what they thought of foreigners in Nanjing.

Director suits Matt with Microphone From Chinese Film Debut

Next stop, for more fun, we took a taxi to Hunan Lu, a famous street for shopping in Nanjing. Our task was to ask Nanjing ren (Nanjing locals) where to buy Nanjing Salty Duck, a specialty. If possible, we had to get them to bring us to the store down the street, then the director would interview them about what happened, Candid-Camera-esque. Neither of us know the word for duck, so we had a lot of fun quacking, flapping our arms, and drawing pictures. We targeted older people, because the younger crowd are required to take English in school, but many young people stopped when they saw us struggling and offered to help. It was a really good time, being silly, trying out our Chinese, and hanging out with older people that we don’t get to talk to too often.

From Chinese Film Debut

After, the crew kindly took us to lunch – which is always a feast in China! They ordered for us, eggplant, a kind of whole-kernel sweet corn patty, shredded potato and pepper, the familiar tomato and egg, a wide, savory cellophane noodle, cashews and celery, bean sprouts and rice noodles, and, of course, pee-jee-oh – warm for the locals and bing (cold) for the mei-guo-ren (Americans).

Lunch was a blast. Except for our incredibly fluent translator, the Chinese film crew spoke very little English, and we spoke even less Chinese, but they taught us Chinese words, we tried our Chinese phrases, and they would try to talk about American culture – O-Bahm-Ah, NBA, Lost on TV. We’re planning on hanging out with our new friends after break, sharing our languages, and finding the fun places to hang out in Nanjing. We are all the same age, born in the year of the Rooster.


One thought on “Mostly Famous

  1. It’s amazing the gratitude and generosity of Chinese people especially to foreigners. Matt looks like he lost a lot of weight.

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