that's the joke my student's came up with for me today. that and "your grammar is so good you must be an advanced student, almost fluent in english!" why? because that's kind of how I felt yesterday.. after meeting someone, from England actually, that even though I carried on a conversation with him in English, thought I was Peruvian. I was a little caught off guard! And one of the funny parts was, him not realizing that I was from the states, began to describe to me the different accents in the states as an example of why some native teachers in an institute here don't teach well. I didn't quite know what to say, I just let him explain to me how I apparently, speak.
I was in a English conversation/debate meeting along with my students and a few others I hadn't met before. The leader of the debate was Australian, so it was quite interesting for me to be in the same room with an Austrailian and an Englishman, I haven't met many of either. The topic was terrorism: political or religious? And naturally they brought up the war and the fall of the twin towers. Which is when the leader of the debate asked me my opinion as their American guest. Before he pointed out my nationality, the other had been truly bashing the US, just talking (giving his part of the debate) really aggressively. I didn't speak up, I just listened while thinking "wow... this guy is so passionate about this... are all English like this or does he have some kind of personal beef about it??" Well, I think that was his way of debating... or discussing... or conversing in general? Because after the debate had finished he continued talking with me... where in the states are you from? I answered with my usual "from WV but I went to SC for college, so it's like my second home" which he came back, and immediately i might add, with "so what is your opinion of the bible belt? do you think it's a dangerous threat?"
I admit, I was a little speechless. I didn't quite know what to say because I didn't really know what he meant by that. But I could tell that he was very serious and aggresive about it. And eventually he meant for example the Christians that want to burn the koran, or the ones that blow up abortion clinics. But once I figured that out I was still a little confused because we had just discussed in the debate how in religious groups there can be radicals or extremists that don't exactly stand for the whole group, but get all the media making it look that way. My response to him was something of the same, but he insisted. So I had to respond with well, all I know to tell you is that I am a Christian and I am from the "bible belt" but... I'm not going to go blow up a clinic or do a lot of what you are generalizing me into. He seemed somewhat satisfied with that. But I just couldn't shake that, it made me want to ask him what had happen to him to make him react so strongly. For that and other comments that he had made about "American Evangelists bringing their Bibles to Peru"
And it made me turn my look inward also. I am such a quiet passive person. Sometimes too much so. And also, it made me see how much of a bubble I live in. I have always lived in one. A Christian University and then working for a Mission, all of the friends have the same beliefs as me... with a few exceptions... but those exceptions aren't quite so confrontational as last nights experience. I am completely not prepared to talk to someone that confronts me so aggressively, but that could be said about my faith or my life in general... I just don't react well to aggressiveness. What do you do in that situation? Try to break things down and see what the real problem is? Or where the real hate is coming from? Yesterday I tried to help him see that he was generalizing a few cases to make his point. But what would be a good reaction to have, when someone is bouncing their anger or frustration out on you whom may or may not have something in common with the actual people they are so frustrated with?