Encounter

October 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

On Friday night, I participated with a friend in a singing competition hosted by the Friendship Association of Chinese Students & Scholars — basically, the Chinese international students. I’ve never seen so many Chinese people in the same place at Mizzou before; there were probably more than 100 in the room total, and I believe at least 95% were FOBs.

I found it quite delightful to spend the evening among them, although my brain hurt a little from speaking so much Mandarin — I’m fluent, but it certainly doesn’t come as naturally as English. My partner in performance, YS, had the nerve to introduce me as an ABC to some of his friends as if I couldn’t speak their language or something. I WAS BORN IN CHINA OKAY & DON’T YOU FORGET IT.

After we presented our song [not without complications], he and I sat in the back of the room to watch the rest of the contestants as well as do a bit of socializing with some of our friends. I only actually knew a handful of people who were there, but that didn’t stop passersby from complimenting me on my singing as they walked past us. Their words warmed my heart.

I was talking to AY when somebody greeted me loudly from behind. I jumped, startled, and turned to see a group of four people gathered expectantly before me: three women and a man, who all seemed to be of grad-student age.

“Do you…speak Chinese?” one of the women asked me.
“I do,” I responded in Mandarin. They looked relieved.

It is difficult for me to describe the rest of the conversation [which continued in Mandarin] because it was so completely out-of-the-blue. Thankfully I had AY as a witness to it all, otherwise I could really convince myself that I hallucinated it all.

Basically, these people were some kind of traveling scholars from China who were in Columbia for three weeks and were leaving on Friday. A week and a half ago, they somehow stumbled upon ACF during our post-message worship set, which I led. I do recall seeing a random group of Asians walk into the back of the room and leave immediately afterward.

Apparently, they were absolutely floored by my singing, which in turn floored me. They literally would not stop raving about my abilities, and since they missed our performance at the competition, they insisted on being able to hear me again before leaving at the end of the week. Flustered, I invited them to Wednesday’s Bible study. AY corroborated my inkling that they were not Christian — they asked me what kind of music I had been singing that first Wednesday.

Church music,” I replied. [Actually it was Hillsong’s “The Stand.”]
“Do you have a recording of it?”
“Um, I have recordings that other people sang…”
“Could you make copies for us, please? We really loved it.”
“Um…sure?”

They seemed genuinely delighted at the prospect of seeing me on stage again, which left me flabbergasted. “Do you guys want an autograph?” AY joked. I waved away his comment, embarrassed. We conversed for what seemed like quite a while; they remarked how good my Chinese was for having lived in America so long, although they did also note that I do not have the accent of somebody from the northeast [indeed, my accent can best be described as a stilted Beijing one]. They departed in high spirits, with promises of bringing their entire group of eight people to ACF this coming week.

Mentally drained, I could only stare at AY in disbelief. We shall see what this Wednesday brings. I already notified my staff worker, so hopefully there will be enough food for everybody, heh.

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