Advertisement
 
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsStudents

Important Numbers

July 20, 1996

I read with interest the July 13 column by Norine Dresser. Times. I worked as an ESL teacher in the Alhambra area for three years; 98% of my students were Chinese--either Taiwanese or mainland Chinese. I had discussions with my students about the symbols of numbers in their culture and knew that the number 8 meant great prosperity.

But as I drove to work every day, I couldn't help but notice a liquor store on the corner of Hellman and San Gabriel Boulevard called "The Double 8". This led to a discussion with my students of the importance of numbers in Chinese culture. They also told me that the number 1 was symbolic of long life--a very good number. The number 4 is bad because the Mandarin sound for "4" sounds like the word "to die". I told them of the Western fear of the number 13. This clicked in the mind of one student who, with her husband, managed a large motel complex. They could never find room 13; there was a room 12 and a room 14, but no 13. When I told them that 13 was viewed as unlucky, her puzzlement about the missing room was cleared up.

We had other discussions as well. When I told them that elderly people are not respected in American culture, they were greatly disturbed. Most of my students were in their 20s. You haven't lived until you see a 20-year-old passionately defending the rights of the aged. I remember thinking: "Wow, this is something that our American culture of youth badly lacks."

TOM RISHER

Whittier

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|