For the past year I have worked with three ESL (english as a second language) students at my school. Two are Chinese and the other is Hispanic. I love working with them and as a result have become very close to them, especially the 2 Chinese students - Andy and Amy. Over the past year I have also gotten to know their families very well through the process of tutoring and helping with homework (I also tutor an older cousin of one of the students). I have helped their families by teaching them English and helping them translate mail, etc. , but I think the part I love the most is everything they have taught me. While I still do not know much Chinese, I have learned so much about their culture and traditions.
In September, Dan Jin (Amy's mother) had a baby boy. I was able to take Amy and her sister to the hospital for the first time to see their baby brother and make sure I peek at him each time I bring Amy home from tutoring. At the end of October, they invited my family to join them for the "full moon celebration" for their baby boy, William.
I learned that the first month after childbirth, the mother is not to leave her home. Many of the things I read even said she is not supposed to leave her room (each time I visited, Dan Jin was in her room). In addition, she has certain foods she is supposed to eat. She also is not supposed to touch water during this month. Amy told me that her mom can not drink water, wash her hair, brush her teeth, or take a bath. You can read more about the post-childbirth tradition here.
When the baby turns one month old, the family has a "full moon celebration", which is essentially a "coming out" party for both the baby and the mother (they believe baby showers before the baby is born are bad luck). Amy's family held this celebration at the restaurant. Jacob, Jenna and I all went and soaked up the culture of our friends. The amount of food they prepared and served was at least double what a traditional Thanksgiving meal is for my family. I went to the party ready to try new foods, but quickly changed my mind! The menu consisted of:
quail, pork/potates, soup w/dumplings and boiled eggs, scallops, crab & lobster (neither one prepared as we would), whole fish, beef stomach, tofu, sweet sticky rice, another soup with noodles - mushrooms - crab claws - and balls of fish meat, and coconut milk to drink. Later for dessert we had a sweet milk mixture with some type of berries (it tasted similar to warm tapioca pudding). They quickly gave the American guest forks instead of chopsticks and water instead of coconut milk. I tried the quail, pork/potatoes, noodles, soup, sticky rice and the dessert.
Baby William - one month old :
The table we sat at during the party. I tried to label each of the foods (more food was brought to the table after I took this photo):
Jenna trying to use the chopsticks to eat noodles from the soup (she wouldn't touch the soup - only the noodles!):
Amy eating the "dessert"
Jenna and Amy....
I am so thankful to be working with these families and to learn more about their culture. It has been an amazing experience for both me and my family!!