新东方 New Oriental, or Learning More About Cooking Than English

Wednesday May 9th, 2012 by No Comments

Further to Dave’s previous post, I wanted to share some of the conversations I’ve had with participants. I am in the process of re-reading and analysing the initial interviews I conducted, and am pulling out themes which I will share in the coming days. In the meantime I wanted to share one quote that really struck me, a phrase that is joked about among young Chinese who have studied, or are studying abroad: ‏

‘出国就像是去新东方, 你以为你是来学英语的,但其实是来学做饭的’.

‘Studying abroad is like going to the New Oriental, you thought you were coming to study English, but you end up learning how to cook’.

‏Student Zhuoer introduced me to this phrase, as she explains here: ‘The point here is that “New Oriental” is an English training school in China while another cooking school carries the same name. And the cooking school has lots of ads on TV, so nearly all Chinese could get the hint’.

When discussing what they had learnt since being in the UK, the initial response for many of the students I have met has been ‘how to cook’. Linna told me her most frequent social activity is cooking, and Nina stated ‘I had never cooked before but suddenly I became like a chef’.

These initial interviews and conversations have certainly provoked a photographic response in my work – I have found myself drawn to kitchens, insides of cupboards, and the activity of cooking itself. I have also been very lucky to enjoy some delicious home cooked food with Linna, Nina, and Li Zhen, who are wonderful cooks, thankyou all!

 

 

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