Carefully Taught


Like many of you I’ve had to do some soul searching this week and keep my inner racist attitudes in check. I asked myself why do people hate other people? Why do people hate who they fear? The words that keep singing in my mind are the words of the musical team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in their song from South Pacific “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”.


As a girl born and raised in Hawaii I was never exposed to the bigotry some of my relatives faced on the mainland U.S.A. I was taught by my parents to give generously to those less fortunate. I was taught to speak kindly of others and not “talk stink” behind someone’s back. I was taught to forgive those who have offended me.


I have been carefully taught.


I was taught how to handle chopsticks and a fork. I was taught that slurping your food in western culture is bad manners but slurping in Asia is a sign to the chef that their food is delicious. I was taught to eat chicken feet and fish heads, delicacies in Cantonese cooking, as well as hamburgers and hot dogs.


I have been carefully taught.


I have been taught to accept and love people for who they are. I’ve been taught to respect people of different faiths and physical abilities. I’ve been taught to speak up for what is right and condemn what is wrong.


I have been carefully taught.


But whether I have actually learned and applied what I have been taught is another story.


So I ask you dear reader. Have you been carefully taught? If so, have you applied what you have been carefully taught?


Just food for thought.

A Living Wage Chinese Style

The following is a letter I sent to Hawaii Senators Maizie Hirono and Brian Schatz:

Dear Senators:

I am a Big Island resident who use to live in China as an English teacher. Every time I hear people talk about universal coverage in THIS country I laugh because they always equate universal with socialism or communism.

Here’s what I had in China and why for the longest time I’d repeatedly return to that country. The first four years I worked as an ESL teacher I was paid 2000 yuan a month. That was enough for me to live on provided that I don’t travel too much. Then in 2000 my income increased to 6000 yuan. I’m now able to travel and spend more, pay for rent if I lived off campus, and get Chinese medical insurance. My last three years I was there I got 7000. In other words my income increased as the cost of living got higher and inflation. I was paid well enough that I didn’t need another job. I did all this on a single job. Why can’t that be done in this country? China does not have universal health coverage. It’s optional for employers. Those that do have it either pay it themselves or pay their teachers enough so that they can pay for their own insurance.

Why can’t we do that here in this country?


Jada Rufo


A Funny Misunderstanding

Chinese have difficulty distinguishing the difference between “eh” as in “eh?” and “a” as in “apple”. They also have trouble in pronouncing it properly. This has lead to a funny misunderstanding.


I was working at the University of Silicon Lake in Kunshan, China. I got news from another American teacher that the school had hired two new teachers from the USA to teach English for two weeks in May. One teacher was a guy named Steve. The other was a woman named Ellen.


I lived in a duplex apartment. I had my own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and washing machine. I even had my own entry door. The only thing I shared with my roommate was a living room.


The other side of the duplex was vacant. The previous teacher had already moved out and returned to the States. Ellen was to move into the vacant space.


I really wanted to meet this Ellen. I asked my boss when she and Steve were coming.


“I don’t know what time they are arriving,” he said. “I just know they are arriving on Wednesday. Be prepared to expect them.”


I waited. But I could not stay up because I had classes the next morning. At about 11 pm I went to bed and closed my bedroom door. But I lay awake in the dark expecting to hear a door open and voices in the living room.


I heard nothing.


When I awoke the next morning I expected to see evidence in the living room. I expected to see an odd pair of shoes, a suitcase, or the door to the vacant room closed.


I saw that nothing had been disturbed.


“Where’s Ellen?” I asked my boss over the phone. “Did she arrive last night?”


“Uh, Ellen is actually a man,” he sheepishly replied.


I hung up and had a good laugh.


Ellen is actually Alan.

Dangerous Women


Woman: Ariana Grande

Weapon of choice: A music sheet

Mission: To bring joy and healing to the world.


Woman: Malala Yousefzai

Weapon of choice: A book

Mission: To give girls an education and empower themselves.

imageWoman: Mother Teresa

Weapon of choice: A rosary

Mission: To heal the sick and help the poor.

imageWoman: Aung Sung Su Kyi

Weapon of choice: A ballot box

Mission: To bring political change in her country.


Woman: Susan B. Anthony

Weapon of choice: A ballot

Mission: To give women the right to vote.

imageWoman: Rosa Parks

Weapon of choice: A bus

Mission: To expose injustice and inequality.


Woman: Wilhemina Vautrin

Weapon of choice: A ceremonial college cap.

Mission: To save female refugees from Japanese soldiers.


Woman: Hua Mulan

Weapon of choice: A sword

Mission: To break down gender barriers and stereotypes.


Woman: Jada Rufo

Weapon of choice: A pen

Mission: To remind people of history and to learn from it.

Are you a dangerous woman?

What is your weapon of choice?

What is your mission?

What can you do to make the world a better place?