Friday, April 25, 2008

Little politicians

I have one class that I teach 3 times per week- they are first-graders who went to bi-lingual kindergarten, so their English is very good. Cute but they can drive me crazy.

Two of them are very committed to their parents' political views, which are on opposite ends of the spectrum. They are the ones who would start chanting when I whistled the political song.

So. There is this building in Taipei called the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, after Taiwan's great leader or terrible dictator, depending on who you ask. It's a beautiful place, with nice gardens and a huge statue of him. And then thing is, every town has a street named after him (Zhong Zheng, in Chinese).

A few months ago, the current president (of the opposite party from Chiang Kai-Shek) led a charge to change the name to something to the effect of "Taiwan Democracy Hall." There were all these skirmishes when they were taking down the characters that said Chiang Kai-Shek... and sandblasted them. Like people beat each other and one guy was run over multiple times by a car. So now they put all this weird junk around his statue- I've only seen pictures, but it looks like they bought out the local craft fair and stapled all the stuff to the wall- and it's still pretty much known as Zhong Zheng Hall. Even the MRT in Taipei still calls it that.

So my students wrote a little story about when they feel happy, sad, angry, etc, and one kid wrote about how he is happy when he goes to Taipei 101. Then he drew a picture that included Taipei 101 and this building, and he proceeded to write the name of the builing in Chinese, but he only knew the character for "Zhong" and had to write the rest phonetically. His little friend took issue with that because that's not the name of the building! Tney were so passionate. I had to move their seats so they could finish their pictures in peace.

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