Wednesday, January 07, 2009

the motherland

Last night I stepped in as den leader for Flash's Cub Scout meeting. With about 2 hours to plan something, I quickly ruled out campfire cooking, visiting a national or state monument, and anything involving pocket knives. This left the civic education portion of the manual, so I chose the bit about U.S. states. I went to the library and checked out 10 books about different states, threw some markers and printer paper in a bag, and flew to the church. The point of the activity was to learn/teach something new about a state of your choosing* (as long as you chose one from my stack of books) and draw the state's flag. I think the boys were a little bored (one of them kept climbing on top of the table). The nutty bars at the end appeared to make up for it.

I remember LOVING this kind of activity when I was young. Trivia! Brand-new markers! Showing off what I've learned! The result is a life-long affinity for the places that I've studied for school reports over the years. No, I have not visited Ireland but after studying it in 5th grade it's like the sacred motherland to me. (My sister has this same relationship with Switzerland. My whole family knows that Switzerdeutsch is one language spoken there. Sadly, I had no opportunity to use this knowledge when I visited in 2000.)

Because I've lived in Hong Kong and visited China I am the official China representative whenever we have an International Night at church. I try not to abuse my power and fill everyone's minds with bogus information or confuse everyone by serving sushi. I could talk about China for hours, especially my theories about craaaazy government policies and what Mao did to permanently screw up the country. But I'm content to explain a little about the language, demonstrate how to use chopsticks, and pass around shadow puppets. I'm still waiting for my chance to showcase my knowledge of merry old Ireland.

*By the way, we play a fantastic game on road trips where we decide which states should be forced out of the Union. One of us proposes a state that (to us) doesn't add much to the country and we debate its merits. Inevitably the Dakotas are voted out. (Sorry Dakotas! Two people who have never even visited you have decided that you don't contribute enough resources or scenery to stay on.) Hours of fun.


Queen Scarlett said...

You know more than most of us that are Chinese. ;-) You're an egg baby. ;-)

Lindsay said...

I feel that way about Guatemala and Rhode Island, since I did reports about them. Ironically I can't remember a thing about either but I do feel a special affinity towards them.

My vote for a state that should secede: Arkansas. Nobody good has come from there, and it should be pronounced "Our-Kan-zass" instead of some phony silent "s" that doesn't show up in Kansas.

Meredith said...

I feel I need to stand up for South Dakota! We went on a vacation there this year and it was wonderful. Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, Wind Cave National Park, the Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, etc. I was lots of fun and the scenery was beautiful. Not to mention the "Corn Palace" in Mitchell, SD. Yes, it is a palace built out of dried corn on the cob, complete with corn cob mosaics. Somehow I remembered it being much more exciting when I saw it as a kid.

I am in favor of getting rid of Wyoming. When we drive from Denver to Utah, we spend 6 painful hours in Wyoming which causes us to always ask "Why would anyone ever live in Wyoming". The only highlight of driving through Wyoming is a stop at "Taco Time" in Rock Springs.

beckbot said...

Man, I knew someone would stick up for the Dakotas! No, I have not been there so I will take your word for it, Meredith, and switch my vote to Wyoming, a place I have been and frankly didn't care much for.

Patty O. said...

I love that game. Totally cracks me up!!!! RIght now I would almost be tempted to have Illinois secede just because of all the political corruption happening here. Plus, us Chicagoans really sort of regard Chicago as a state unto itself and disregard Illinois as a whole.

Anyway, I too am the Chinese expert in the branch. Funny enough, I get tons of questions about Mandarin and certain people refuse to believe that though I speak Cantonese, I can't understand Mandarin ( aside from a few random phrases). I always get asked to teach chinese cooking, which is funny because many of my recipes I actually learned AFTER living in HK.