Saturday, September 17, 2011

Boy George, Why I am Not Going to Australia, etc.

Some of you who read my earlier post may have misinterpreted what I said. I am staying in China and not going to Australia. So why mention Australia at all? Because in the previously referenced Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, he says that he is moving to Australia because it is far, far away. I am not moving to Australia, because I don't want to be far, far away. With Skype and the Internet, I can stay in touch and we can remain virtually close.  "It is just not the same." I agree, but I will make a sojourn back to America in January or February 2012 and hope to see many of my faithful readers then.

I am staying involved with the Stop the Northern Pass! campaign and I am excited to see that Lynch is not going to be in a position to negotiate more bad deals for New Hampshire, like ripping up our forests and damaging our tourism industry by making the Granite State a highway for electrons bound to Massachusetts and Connecticut. Let's hope Gov. Pete Shumlin of Vermont (ahh, poor Vermont!) wakes up and realizes that getting hydro from the Maritimes is no better. The only way we are going to end our dependence on electricity is to halt the endless growth model and materialism that D. H. Lawrence decries in Lady Chatterley's Lover--the book I finished reading last week. (There is quite a bit more excitement in that book, by the way, if you have not read it.) We need to learn to say no, instead of, "Please, suh, can I have some more." (Yes, I know that is Dickens.)

I am staying here to accept a challenge more considerable than staying warm in the infamous Manchurian wintertime. (In other words, I am not staying here for a girl, as some have asked.) I will manage a new entity called The Culture Club. The late Jack Murray, who was the founder of Perfect English and its headmaster when I arrived here in February, endowed it with this name and so we will move forward thus, bowing, of course, to Boy George and the Second British invasion. A large number of important decisions have been made without my input, because I hemmed and hawed for months about whether to step up to the plate--two years seems, and seemed, a considerable commitment. One such decision was to inscribe on the marquee above our door the words Culture Club (even though we are THE Culture Club) in almost the same font that Coca-Cola uses. It is a sight to behold!

The purpose of The Culture Club is to provide a fun and entertaining environment to practice English with other non-native speakers while preparing our members and students with the necessary skills to travel abroad. In other words, I am going to show chop-stick users how to use the sinister fork. My mother's diligent training will finally pay off. If I am successful, hundreds, maybe thousands of Chinese people will know that the blade of the knife is supposed to face towards you when you set it down to the right of your plate.

In all seriousness, I will be working with a visiting student (Phillips Exeter Academy Class of 2011) and my colleagues at Perfect English Training School to develop programming and curriculum that will engage our existing clientele and new members. When the World Series rolls around (and the Red Sox are beating the Yankees), we will turn on the boob-tube, do reading-for-comprehension with Casey at the Bat, and practice listening with Abbot & Costello's Who's On First? Come Yuletide, we will teach carols and old standards. You get the idea.

For instance, it is terrifying for some Chinese to arrive in a foreign country and not know that you actually have to drive on the correct side of the road and stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk so we will familiarize people with America's car culture. To date, I have taught a couple dozen people how to play International Chess and Texas Hold 'em, as well as led a few discussions. It has been a lot of fun and will only get bigger and better.

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