By ◆ Juppie on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 @ 6:08 PM

Earlier this month, there were flag football tournaments going on at lunchtime. Some of the students had been participating at the games. Apparently one of the PE teachers made the students stay late to clean up after the games (at least, they claim that, I wasn't there).

Well, I was sitting in my math classroom and the bell rang. A few students ended up being late. The first said, "Flag football," the second said the same, and so on...Until there was only one person left to come to class. As he was approaching the classroom, our teacher said, "Let's see what his excuse is."

To our surprise, when the boy came in, he said, quite simply, "I was late." My teacher was impressed by this, saying that the boy had taken responsibility instead of shifting the blame to the flag football games and PE teacher.

And then, during another math class, we were reading out the answers. It's usually like this: The first person in a row reads an answer from their homework, and then the person behind them reads the next answer, and so on. Well, it got to one boy and he couldn't read the answer because he didn't have his homework. "Do you have your homework?" asked the teacher. The boy fumbled for a response, but finally he had to say no.

My dad asked me later on if students ever claim that their dog ate their homework when they don't have it. I guess it's not really an excuse that's used nowadays. I mean, it wouldn't be a credible excuse unless someone had a dog in the first place.

Well, anyhow, I was reading a book called When Heaven Fell by Carolyn Marsden. It's about a girl living in Vietnam, named Binh. Her aunt moved to America when she was very young because it was rough in Vietnam at the time. Now that she is 35, she has rediscovered her family and traveled to Vietnam to visit them. But there's a lot of culture shock on both sides. The relatives living in Vietnam expect Di Thao, the aunt who lives in America, to be rich because she is American. And Di Thao has trouble getting used to the lifestyle in Vietnam.

For one thing, a relative asked Di Thao what her age was. Di Thao had said that in America, women didn't reveal their ages, before finally saying she was 35. Binh didn't understand why her aunt was uncomfortable because apparently, it's important to know someone's age so you know how to address them in Vietnamese.

And then the relatives asked Di Thao what she did for a living. She said she was a teacher. "What do you teach? Mathematics? Economics?" asked the relatives. Di Thao replied that she taught art. The relatives were confused about this. "People go to school to learn art? Why?"

The relatives also thought it was shocking that Di Thao was 35 but had no husband or children. As for Di Thao, she was surprised by the toilet, which you have to squat to use (Bleh! Horrible! I saw those kinds of toilets in China. I wouldn't go to the bathroom when there weren't the kinds of toilets that you can sit on).

I've been thinking that I really am very used to the American lifestyle myself. I love spaghetti (but when Binh ate it, she thought it was strange, especially the cheese taste). Our house isn't big, but it isn't so small that we all sleep side by side on the floor. (I think houses are pretty big in the USA compared to other countries. In Europe, things are more petite too) And we are accustomed to not wearing uniforms to school. When Binh saw a photo of an American school, and saw that the students wore plain clothing, she wondered if they were too poor to afford uniforms...In the USA it's usually just the private school kids who wear uniforms. I would like to be able to live in another country - not just visit it - because simply seeing a place for a week or two is not enough to really get a feel for what life is like there.

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