Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Good Chinese Mother...NOT!

As a non-Chinese mother of two Chinese girls, I'm supposed to be the preserving of their culture...or at least, I supposed to give them some exposure to it. So, like a good Chinese mother, I decided to start La Nina at the Chinese school this fall.

There are two Chinese schools in our area: one for Mandarin and one for Cantonese. The Mandarin school is huge and since La Nina is from a Mandarin speaking province, I thought I would enroll her in this school. Now this school is intense, there are Math classes, English classes, Chinese classes--writing and speaking--and culture classes. And this is leaving out the entire sports program they are adding this fall.

Since the language classes are two hours long, require a parent to attend and conflict with church, I thought a culture class in dance would be a good toe in the water for all of us. (Not to mention, I haven't quite figured out what to do about the fact if I'm really trying to preserve the culture..then the Magster should learn Cantonese! But that's a whole new post.)

Anyway, for weeks I've been checking the web site for registration information. The web site is half in English, half in Chinese, but I could easily read information about the 2005-2006 school year, so I figured registeration was still not open. Then, on Wednesday, it struck me that if the Chinese School was on the same schedule as last year, classes were starting in a couple of weeks and with close to 1500 students, they had to be registering. So, I started clicking around in the Chinese section of the web site. Pay Dirt!

Turns out, I'm a bad Chinese Mommy. Actually, that's not true. The issue is I just can't read Chinese. The link to the registration wasn't in English! I clicked the Chinese link and lo and behold I found the registration English. A little filter for keep the riff-raff out..and I was filtered! And of course, the dance class was full.

So, I sent an email note begging they have mercy on my poor daughter and her illiterate mother. And let me tell you, it's a good thing they know my name from various activities around town. The school director recognized my name. She has helped me with translations in the past was very apologetic, but it wasn't really their fault. I'm outside of her target audience. How many websites have I built in English that wouldn't have served her needs? Given my profession, I have no room to judge a targetted web site...

It was really just a little window into what non-English speaking people go through trying to mainstream their kids. How do you sign up for gymnastics, dance, soccer or any of the other on-line registrations if you don't read English? It's tough. No wonder, the Chinese community offers all of these programs. It's easier and more comfortable to just do it in your own language.

I'm lucky. Most of the Chinese community in my area is highly educated and bi-lingual. I can't say that about myself--well, I'm supposedly educated. So, by the goodness of the Chinese community, we at least have a chance at getting in...and there is always next year if it doesn't work out.


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