Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Media (in any form) (11/11/10)
TITLE: The Foreigners
By Jenny Fulton
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I ran with the rest of my friends to see what these strangers would do.
“They’re Americans,” whispered Li Shan.
“How do you know?” I whispered back.
Li Shan pulled out a picture. A man and a woman walked hand in hand. The woman’s long, pale hair flew out behind her. Their skin was light, eyes were blue, and in their hands, they held a bottle of coke. Their clothes were similar to the clothes worn by these strangers.
I looked back up at the strangers. These Americans looked tired, and their clothes didn’t look as clean or pretty as the ones in the picture. I wondered how long they had walked. It was not easy to get to our village. The only people who came and went were people like Li Shan’s brother who left for the cities to earn more money and only returned once a year for the Spring Festival.
“My brother says the Americans all have two or three cars and live in HUGE houses! They’re so rich that all they do is go shopping and have parties.”
“Is that how they live where Li Shan is at?” I asked in surprise.
“No, stupid. That’s how they live in America.”
“Then how does your brother know what their houses look like, stupid?” I was getting tired of Li Shan, so I turned to catch up with the others.
Li Shan grabbed my arm and jerked me back. “He’s seen pictures of them in the movies and T.V. shows. Listen to me, I’m telling you that these Americans are rich! I bet they have lots of money and cool things in their bags!”
I looked back at the Americans, and then looked back at Li Shan doubtfully. “These Americans don’t look rich.”
“Just wait until you see what they have in their bags. What else would take up so much room in there?”
“That’s what I want to know,” I finally yelled. “And I would if you would stop talking.” With that, I pulled away as hard as I could and started running toward the gathering group.
The man was bowing to my father and speaking in the national language. I could only understand a little. We speak our own language here and my father was the only one in the village who knew the national one. After a while, my father led them to our house and into our courtyard. I could hardly believe my luck! They’d be staying with us! I could watch them as much as I wanted. After a few days, I would know more about Americans than Li Shan. That should keep his mouth shut!
My days changed with the coming of the Americans. Every day, the man would go with my father to work in the fields while his wife would stay and teach me and my sisters how to speak the national language. It felt funny learning our national language from foreigners, but my father had commanded it.
There was one thing I quickly learned about these Americans. Li Shan had been wrong about them. They weren’t rich, and they weren’t lazy. I had looked through everything and could never find more than a few dozen kuai among their stuff. There was one very interesting thing I had seen, however. It was a black box with a glass screen. There was also a box with a picture of a strange man on it.
It was the picture I found most interesting. The woman caught me looking at it one day. I thought she’d be angry, but she only smiled and held out her hand to take it back. I gave it to her, then sat with my head bowed to wait for my punishment. She took something out of the picture box and put it into the big black box. Suddenly, the glass screen was filled with pictures. It was a story about the man in the picture. I didn’t understand it, but I liked the man – what he did, how he helped people. By the end of the story, I was crying.
I looked up at the American, and in the national language, I said, “I want to know more about this man.”
It was the beginning.
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