Monday, February 15, 2010

you're handsome, like movie star!

Those were the words of close observation (*ahem*) of Mr. B, an older Vietnamese man I met yesterday at the Vietnamese Community Center.

For those of you who don't know, yesterday was Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year. It's a very big thing for Chinese and Vietnamese people. As you may remember from some of my older posts, I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) as a volunteer at the Vietnamese Community Center on Sunday afternoons. Given that it was a holiday, I thought that my students were not going to show up for class (understandably so) but I decided to go anyway, just in case.

I arrived about 5-10 minutes late, and sure enough, my students weren't there. There were some people at the Center, but I'm not sure what they were doing. There were some older men sitting close to the front door, just hanging out and I guess welcoming people as they came in. I waited in the classroom for about five minutes, but at some point, the man that would later reveal his name as Mr. B entered the room.

Mr. B surprised me from the beginning. Having been teaching at the Center for almost two years now (wow, time flies), I've noticed that generally, the older folks don't speak much English, if any at all. There are exceptions of course, and Mr. B is one of them. He started telling me about Chinese New Year, and that my students wouldn't be coming to class because of it, etc. Then, with a surprised look, he exclaimed "wow! you're handsome, like movie star!" I laughed and thanked him, but tried to change the subject. The conversation then went something like this (note: you may have to use the translation tool to the right):

Mr. B: Are you "mexicano" or American?
Me: No, I'm from Puerto Rico
Mr. B: Oh! Puerto Rico! Hablas español!
Me: *surprised laughter* Sí. Do you speak Spanish?
Mr. B: A little bit. At my company, there are women from (*counts with fingers*) Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico...
Me: Wow...
Mr. B: Yes, and I love Spanish music, like cha-cha-cha, cumbia, samba, salsa, and mariachi (*starts doing a mariachi dance with music*)
Me: *dying with laughter* That's good!
Mr. B: Yes, I don't like American music, like rock. Nah, I like salsa, cumbia, cha-cha-cha...
Me: Yes!
Mr. B: I like a lot of songs: Guantanamera, Amor Prohibido, C*lito Lindo...
Me: O_O... You mean "Cielito Lindo"
Mr. B: Yes! C*lito Lindo! *starts singing* "porque cantando se alegra c*lito lindo los corazones" :D
Me: That's "Cielito Lindo"...
Mr. B: Yes! C*lito Lindo!
Me: *gives up* ... *laughs* that's good! :)
Mr. B: Yes, I also like to watch Spanish TV, like Sabado Gigante every Saturday! With Don Francisco!
Me: *more laughter* Wow, that's great! Awesome! :)
Mr. B: Yes! I also like Hispanic women! And what about you? Are you married?
Me: No, not married...
Mr. B: Oh, you're single? *points to the empty classroom table* Do you want a Vietnamese girl? :D

It was the funniest conversation I've had in a long time. I omitted a lot of it, but I should say he did more than one dance, along with more mariachi-sounding music he made on the spot. It was hilarious. I almost died with the way he sounded like he was offering me a Vietnamese girl. His Spanish was very good as far as pronunciation - I was very surprised. I was completely blown away by Mr. B's passion for Hispanic culture too. I hope I can talk to him again soon. I also hope he gets to marry a nice Hispanic lady at some point. Thank you Mr. B for making the trip to the Vietnamese Community Center completely worthwhile. :)

May God bless you and keep you always.