Sunday, September 30, 2007

Xie Xie

The Chinese word of the day is “thank you.” In Chinese it is pronounced “shay shay.”

Last night I arrived in Shanghai with Alaska Speaker of the House John Harris and his wife Nicolle. We were welcomed by banners at the airport and many young Chinese volunteers. Special O staffers Jim Balamaci and Nicolle Egan picked us up and helped us get a taxi.

We quickly learned to say “xie xie" (shay shay) to the helpful volunteers who swarmed in, loaded our luggage and helped translate for the taxi driver.

Many Chinese speak excellent English. In fact, there are more students in China learning English than there are in the US. However, taking a taxi can be a confusing experience, because most taxi drivers to not speak English. There are a few tricks for getting to the right destination.

Trick #1-Hotels have cards with common destinations written on them in English and Chinese. We gave one of these cards to our driver.

Trick #2-Hotel staff speak excellent English and Chinese. We learned to call the hotel desk by cell phone and tell the staff where we wanted to go. Then, you hand the phone to the driver and the hotel can give him directions in Chinese.

Trick #3-This one works during Special Olympics. Find one of the many teen volunteers wearing Special O T-shirts. Tell them where you are headed and allow them to translate for the driver. We were very impressed with the poise of the young men that met us. Their English was perfect and we felt confident thanks to their support.

Xie xie local volunteers!

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