I’ve been reconnecting to my roots by learning Chinese. After the Atlantic Slave Trade ended, laborers from the Far East were brought to the West. My great grandfather was one of the laborers brought to Jamaica from China. He owned a small shop where my grandmother spent most of her afternoons and this is most of what I know about him. My grandmother told me that he spoke Cantonese but she can’t recall much of the language herself. He was from Cantong Province and I have seen only one picture of him. It’s a picture of him sitting in a chair with my grandmother and her brother standing at either side. I hope to go to China one day to see if I can find some of my relatives. One of my dearest friends happens to be Chinese and she promises to help me in this venture. Until then, I’m brushing up on my Chinese! Not officially, but because the school that Urbndervish and I teach at recently hired a Chinese teacher, we’ve had the opportunity to sit in on a few Chinese lessons.
Who wants to learn Chinese in Algeria? Good question! Many companies that hire Chinese laborers or provide services to the growing Chinese community are eager to learn Chinese. The Chinese laborers don’t seem too interested in learning French or Arabic- maybe it’s not a lack of interest but, moreso, a lack of time. They did migrate here to work, not to live and settle, or so it seems.
What do the Chinese eat in Algeria?!?! Another good question! I asked our new Chinese teacher the same question and she said that there’s an “underground” market of Chinese restaurants and imported foods. She said that some of these restaurants are only known to the Chinese and are not opened to the public. Naturally, for me, the questioned that followed was “Have you found any tofu?” After digesting the shock that I like tofu, she told me that there are a few people who make tofu here. Kind soul that she is, she bought some for me! I quickly prepared it with some garlic, ginger, curry, tomatoes, and cilantro and it was g-o-o-d! Alhamdulillah!
How’s the Chinese coming along? Well, we’ve had two free Chinese classes so far. It was a good review for Urbndervish because he forgot alot of what he learned while teaching English in China many years ago. It was also a good review for me since my friend started teaching me some basic Chinese. I know how to say “Hi! How are you, my friend? My name is_________. Thank you! You’re Welcome! Good Bye!” I can also say the name of our Chinese teacher…or, at least, I think I can. We’ll keep you posted of any developments.