Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wide Wide World

Did you know that the Philippines are an American colony?

I didn't.

Imagine my embarrassment during the following conversation, which took place in front of my whole dance class, between Joel (my instructor) and myself:

Joel (taking roll): Wendy?
Wendy: Here.
J: Have I asked you yet where you're from?
W: I'm American.
J: From which part?
W: The midwest. Which is why I can't dance.
J: Not LA?
W: No. How about you? You have a great American accent.
J: I'm Philippino. It's an American colony, so we learned American english.
W: Oh, cool. (which is code for 'The Philippines is an American colony?)

Nonetheless, I checked it out on Wikipedia, my favorite online source of information, and checked that it does have ties to America. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the information made me think it had a strong tie to America, but America is mentioned once or twice. If you want more information about this, you can visit the website to see for yourself:

I won't lie, though, that Americans are not well-renound for their traveling or knowledge of the world, especially from our part of the country. We're about as smart about the world as New Zealanders are about parts of the States other than LA or New York. Which isn't very smart.

This Monday at SPQR I waited on heaps of Americans, which put me in a great mood. I was chatting it up, being cheeky, having fun with all of them. I found one table of two California boys especially nice. Now, I never really try to guess where people are from, or even if they aren't from here, until they start asking me what things on the menu are ('What's capsicum? Rocket? Aioli?). These boys fit that bill, so I struck up the conversation with them about America. I told them where I was from, and found out the same from them. Then, one asked me, 'Tell me again roughly where in the States is Iowa?'

Oh boys. Really? DId you not have to learn the physical proximity of each and every state (spelled correctly) and it's capital (spelled correctly) in fourth grade, or was that just me?

For shame...

In another recent conversation with someone from home who needed some information about where I live, I got the following question:

'Is New Zealand part of the UK?'

Now, for anyone who might have wondered the same, but was too embarrassed to ask... New Zealand and the UK aren't even in the same hemisphere. So no, it is not part of the UK.

I still also have a couple of friends asking me how living Australia is going.

Again, two completely separate places.


Moral of the story - get out and read some geography if you can. We live in a very, very wide world, and I've learned the more you know, the better off you are. It's all helpful information to know, for sure...

1 comment:

Mary said...

I went babysitting the other night, and I was talking to the very well-educated mother about my time in New Zealand. When I mentioned that you were teaching there, she asked "is she teaching English to the students?" I'm not sure I hid my disbelief very well, but I simply replied, "Oh, it's already an English-speaking country."