Greetings to you,
One of the joys/hardships of studying the Chinese language is the progressive accumulation of cheng yu, or Chinese idioms, four character phrases that have been passed down over thousands of years and can sum up a situation or teach a valuable lesson. Many of them require a whole paragraph for an adequate translation. There are thousands and thousands of them, and they are challenge enough for native Chinese speakers, let alone the hapless foreign learner struggling quite enough with normal vocabulary and grammar.
BiYouZhiLu, “the road one must follow,” is not an overly complicated one, but it seems to sum up my mood on this chilly January morning in Washington, DC.
It’s been a long time since I have sent an email, I know. Since finishing my two year assignment at the US Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica in August last year, I have been here in DC studying the Chinese language at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI, of course, since the State Department loves its acronyms so much), in preparation for my eventual reassignment to the US Embassy in the China’s capital city, Beijing. Language study is a painful process that must be embraced in order to be enjoyed, I find, though it is an exhausting adventure in any case. That said, it has been quite lovely living in an American city again, with its orderly streets and good restaurants and fast internet. It’s amazing to think that I have already been here over four months, and that my time in this country is once again on a count down.
Amazing stories are not many in this email, I’m afraid, as my life is indeed quite structured recently – six hours of face to face language study, another few hours of language study. Eating, some socializing and some solitude, and it was time for bed an hour ago.
This weekend is an exciting one in DC, of course, with President Obama’s inauguration on the steps of the Capitol building. I, however, am taking advantage of the long weekend and visiting some friends in New York City. I feel less bad since I suffered the freezing crowds at the last inauguration, watching the President take the oath of office from the lawn of the Capitol.
In this new term, I am very curious who will replace Hillary Clinton as my boss in the State Department, and who will be chosen for the new US Ambassador to China, with whom I will be working under when I go to Beijing in June.
Much love to you all, talk to you soon.
Ted Andy Meinhover