My stomach felt a bit ill yesterday morning… and that was that, I guess, although my brother felt a little worse. So much for pig flu.
On Thursday night I went to Provo for an informational event for new students. More and more, I’m thinking of just doing a double program, Asian Studies and Linguistics (TESOL minor), probably setting aside the other languages but hopefully still going for Korean. I know Japanese might be a slightly harder thing to study outside of school… while "common words" should be easier.
While at BYU I ran into my former schoolmate Ye Eun-jeong. I bought a Mongolian dictionary at the bookstore for about 13, but passed on the 30-dollar dialogue book that probably would’ve been more helpful. It was supposed to have an audio component, but the store manager was still waiting for the complete set to arrive — he thought it would come next week. By then I wouldn’t have time to prepare with it anyway… and complete, it would be over 60 dollars. He told me that missionaries would always suggest to prepare in other ways but NOT to study the language before entering the MTC, because "you would learn more in the first day" than you could in the months of studying before then. A girl worker there agreed with him.
I do see how it can seem to go that way, entering such an intensive environment, and that might be only a reflection of their personal lack of diligence with the language before the MTC, but the advice is completely wrong. I’ll never suggest such a thing. I’ve already disproven it myself, noticeably advancing beyond my intelligent peers for several months into the mission by preliminary study; and besides, it goes against every reality of language-learning. Even cursory or half-hearted study would put you a few steps ahead in the MTC; and in the journey toward fluency, every step is requisite, and progress needs to be made whenever it is possible. On the other hand, if a missionary plans to learn a language for only 2 years and then forget it and move on with life, maybe a temporary mind-set would serve him better. Then again, if he is prideful and needs humbling, maybe he needs to hit the language wall harder than he otherwise would by preparation.
Later at BYU, I found that the co-ordinator of the new-student event was Bryce Bunting, son of President Bunting of the stake here whom I used to know. He works there full-time while continuing his graduate studies, paid by the school. I still remembered Bryce as a slightly intimidating kid a year older than me in grade school, but since entering into life, he seems to have no trace of meanness left. I bothered him with my questions, and he planted the idea that graduate school was a more appropriate environment to design very specific courses of study.
I learned a lot there. The only disconcerting thing was that the other students, many of them, were just out of high school. I probably have a full decade on some of them… I had on my uniform, and I think a lot of them thought I worked security there or something. That’s o.k., though. I’m not studying to meet kids to hang out with, but to…………. ……step forward.
Heidi Ng just called me. It’s been a long time…
Lucie treated Shanna and me to eat yesterday afternoon. I chose to go to Hunan Garden, saving the trouble of having to get there for work. In the end, I found that the original driver (the owners’ son) had cancelled his other plans and was going to return. The boss’ wife regretted the situation and compensated me with ten dollars, which was appreciated but certainly unnecessary. So, it’s back to my original budget.
Our governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman Jr., also an LDS Church member, has been nominated by Barack Obama as the ambassador to PR China. He was previously an ambassador to Singapore under the first President Bush. I believe Governor Huntsman is a former Taiwan missionary; of course, he also has a Chinese daughter (as well as an Indian one; hard to miss the symbolism). Huntsman is one of the few in this country’s leadership who can approach Chinese sympathetically, and perhaps his interest in sustainable development will rub off somehow. This has been one of Obama’s very few responsible nominations, and the Senate confirmation is a pretty sure bet… and that’s an opportunity you can’t really pass up, even from Obama. Kind of interesting.
Jon Huntsman, a Republican, enjoys extremely high support in Utah because he’s shown a careful, open mind, and hasn’t yet betrayed us on the issues of life, faith, and family, as open-minded politicians are often tempted to do — although he has had an iffy moment or two, and nobody would think it impossible for him to turn coat someday, unlike Mitt Romney, whose path has become ever surer and straighter. Today’s Huntsman can be contrasted with the current "highest LDS politician", Senator Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. We support him in his private faith but very little else. His faith seems almost meaningless when it comes to policy decisions. He could never win an election in Utah.
Well, my entry was going to be about… "open-mindedness", maybe. I’ll put it in a new entry.