Talking About Hanukkah in Chinese


Adopting traditions to ring in the Chinese New Year in the US prove just as valuable as adhering to the tradition of gorging on latkes during Hanukkah while living in Xi’an, China.

Tradition moved me enough to host hanukkah gatherings every year, starting with hauling several pounds of potatoes and onions from the market, grating them using the stainless steel tower-like grater I used for cheese the remaining 364 days (or when I could afford to buy cheese from Metro), and then hoping the Chinese kitchen god would grant my fingers safe passage.

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Three Reasons for Yangxifu Pride

It’s a mixed bag of reactions whenever I declare I’m a yangxifu, foreign wife/bride, at least in the United States. As a possibly necessary disclaimer, I do not inform acquaintances merely by translating into English, but may mention my husband is Chinese.

Self-identifying as a 洋媳妇 in China would always illicit positive responses, especially from the taxi drivers who mistook my nationality, identifying me as Russian. Many saw nothing out of the ordinary in a Russian woman marrying into a Chinese family.

I mesmerize millennials and many, but not all, of my peers, when I disclose my husband’s nationality. They get caught up in “the trans-national romance,” many having been abroad understanding the subtle nuances of creating lasting bonds, perhaps not as lasting as mine.

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Words as Weapons

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me!

I don’t know who we have to throw sticks and stone at, oops, I mean, thank, for uttering that awful phrase, but clearly it’s an individual who did not surmise, or imagine an age in which words would be brandished as weapons. Cyber bullying, social media as soapboxes, and heck, even personal blogs all across the Web, where words may be thrown-around daggers (yes, I’m looking at this woman in the mirror 😄).

Stumbling upon this post while scrolling through WordPress’s Reader, I felt compelled to reference the blog Haha China.

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Friday Flashback: Cultural Faux Pas, Language Blunders

Welcome to day six of November’s BlogHer NaBloPoMo challenge!

The most random of conversations remind me of the blunders and faux pas that occurred as an expat in Xi’an. In my early days, when beside myself with what to do to keep busy as I hadn’t yet started teaching, I would roam around the outskirts of the university’s old campus, situated a fifteen-minute bus ride from the city’s center.

In order to communicate whatever it was I needed, I took up miming. Arms flailing, pointing, creating air boxes, and exaggerating already eccentric hand gestures, body movements, and facial expressions were all par for the course in getting situated.

Luckily, a friend back in the States, who met his wife in Xi’an, put me in touch with their friend Daphney. Daphney did not seem bothered by my eccentric ways of communicating, nor my impatience, moodiness, or trouble in internalizing a go-with-the-flow attitude.

Come to think of it, growing comfortable with my surroundings took months. I loved so much about Xi’an, and China, and did exude an easygoing approach compared to some non-Chinese colleagues; it would take more months (and ZJ) to really feel at home, and less prone to faux pas, at least as concerned my non-teaching life.

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