Sunday, July 01, 2007

Amcham poltroonery

The following was originally posted on June 21, 2005, in response to Taichung Amcham's "America Day" celebration. Nothing has changed except for the name. It is now Taichung Amcham/Muchachos International America Day. These guys are a non-profit organization, and evidently doomed to stay that way.

AmCham gets it (half) right
July 4th approaches. Independence Day. That's what the government and every person I've met calls it. And then I came to Taiwan. I was surprised to see banners proclaiming America Day at Independence Day celebrations. I have bitched and moaned to Amcham Jack and his predecessor about this. I was told that we live in Taiwan. Okay. Lots of people in Taiwan are Taiwanese. Still following you. It would be easier for them to understand something big and familiar like America Day rather than big, scary and more-difficult-to-say Independence Day. Wrong. Extrapolating two major tenets of language learning theory, we can see how wrong and counterproductive this thinking is. Firstly, most all leading theorists will tell you that you never teach incorrect forms or speech. Despite your good intentions, the learner will retain this and it will inhibit proper learning and acquisition. And at this point, most Taiwanese are in the infantile acquisition stage with regards to American history and culture. I am not using infantile as a pejorative. Young learners will acquire rapidly and thoroughly. Give the Taiwanese the same opportunity.

Secondly, input is best understood if the level is just above the learner's own level. Input either drastically above or below the learner's level results in no learning at all. Therefore we strive for the input +1 idea. Input that is just above the learner's level that forces them to make the cognitive leap and acquire that knowledge and make it truly his/her own. So, let's call Independence Day what it is and not impair their understanding. It's really a no-brainer.

Well, AmCham Jack listened. No more America Day on AmCham's website. And, I hope they didn't already print up the banners. Now, on to the part they didn't get right.

Hey kids! Step on up! Come on over! Bring your father's ATM card! It's the celebration-formerly-known-as-America-Day-Independence-Day p-aarrty!

All right! Let's throw the football......through Starbucks window? Ah, crap. RUN!

Now, now, not to worry. Hustle on over here for the potato sack race down the winding stairs. Survivors Winners will each get a genuine Medical Toys neck brace. Bondage never felt so good!

1-2-3 Not it! Hey Billy you're it! Let's play tag.....YOUR HEAD ON THE BRICK CORNER? Yuck.
Need to kick back and relax? You're in the right place. Lie back on Tiger City's own therapeutic granite and treat yourself to the fabled Taiwanese Million-foot Massage!

Billy. How ya feeling? Let's toss some horseshoes......AROUND THAT CHICK'S NECK? Ah, shiii.......Wait....She LIKES it! COOOL!

Tiger City, and even worse, Soho Street have never been the proper venues for an Independence Day celebration. I've been given two reasons for this. One is fireworks and the other is money. Yes, fireworks are a large part of the celebration. However, they are only the culmination of an entire day of events. Surely the hours spent getting to this point are more important than the fireworks. We should be showing the people how and why we celebrate. Hell, everyone knows we can blow stuff up real good anyway. Money. Yeah, money is good, but we celebrate that almost every other day. The June 26 Swelter For The Shelter will come off just by donations and sharing. The AmCham board has some pretty big honchos with deep pockets. Have 'em pull their hands out and shell out. Or, just ask some of us teachers and lower-tier sort. We'd show up and pull it off. Speaking of showing up, when is the last time you've seen any AmCham member besides AmCham Jack and Habecker at any of these events? I think AmCham Taichung, which is a non-profit organization, would be better served if more of its members got off their asses and demonstrated their care and concern for the community in which they live. Get a grill and some grub. Go to the park. Eat, drink, play some music, throw the ball around and invite some of the locals over to join you. Much better.


mr. bean said...

Other than that, how is your vacation going John ?

Anonymous said...

Muchachos International...that pretty much sums up Los Angeles nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Google is interesting.

Jerry said...

Well I guess that sums it up John, When you get back you shouldjoin AMCEM and then run for office and get things sorted out ,no point sitting on the soffa,what do you think guys?. Someone with strong feelings like this should be in there?
Having a good vacation John......