Tuesday, June 29, 2010

International Relations and Down South Hospitality

Being in an environment where people are from all corners of the world allows you to meet some interesting people and learn about towns other than your own. The program has students from Portugal, Italy, China, Turkey, France, England, and Ireland. It is amazing to think that there are so many people from all over the place coming here to spend their summer at Brown University. There are also people from different parts of America that bring another level of diversity onto the campus. During the orientation they had mentioned that there were students from all 50 states. Those from Alaska must be having a complete climate shock.

In my class there is a girl from Shanghai China but she is actually Thai. She was born in Thailand and was moved to Shanghai because of her father’s job. Her father works for Converse as a labels consultant and frequently travels throughout Asia, and occasionally Australia. She has lived there for two years and goes to an international school called Shanghai American School. She says the school is taught in English and that she speaks Thai and English with her family but speaks no Cantonese, Mandarin, or any other dialect of Chinese. When I asked her how she communicated with others she said that she always has friends that she brings along to translate. She also mentioned that her mother was trying to learn Cantonese. I found it amazing how she was able to live in a place where she could not speak the language for two years. She says that it is not that hard and that she enjoys living there.

We also have a person in our class that is Taiwanese-American from Georgia. Through our conversations I have found out that he has to take a bus to school and that it is an hour long drive. A district funded bus is unheard of in our area of California and no matter where you live there is always a school that is closer than an hour’s drive away. I have a friend that lives in the California Valley and his bus ride isn’t that long. He also mentioned that his school has a two person a day dropout rate and that they had to have an assembly to discuss the seriousness of the statistics. He has also informed me that his district has a school where every one in four girls is pregnant or already has a child. That school had a district run day care on the school campus so that the girls can drop their child off and finish their education. I really think that is sad to think that one out of every four girls at the high school has a child or is going to before they finish high school.

Through talking and getting to know them I have learned that despite whether you go to an international school in China or a public school in Georgia everyone has something special about where they are from. Some people might not think that their story is interesting but it is always intriguing to an outsider. A lot of people think that it is “really cool” that I am from California but I don’t think it is better than being from Central Pennsylvania. Everyone has something about where they are from that is “cool.”


  1. Really like your blog today, Megan. Others may come from "cooler" places, but aren't we lucky that we have easier life?

  2. Megan,

    Very nice blog.

    I don't know why I'm shocked to read about the Thai student who has lived in Shanghai for two years but hasn't picked up the language but nonetheless I am shocked.

    When you think about it, though, is she really any different than so many people even in our own community? Sometimes people will go way out of their way to be able to get around without having to learn the language spoken where they live.

    When you described some of the problems in that Georgia school district, again, that's not all that uncommon. We have similar conditions right in our own District. We have some schools with extremely high dropout rates and some high schools with day care centers right on campus.

    As for the day care centers, we have to ask which is worse: providing day care for our students or having them drop out of school and forgo a high school diploma?

    As for that bus ride, I think I'd have to petition to make sure the bus had AC, Wi-Fi and electrical outlets so I could plug in my laptop and get some work done while commuting.