and it is Chinese.
I recently had a fascinating conversation with a 17 year old Chinese girl over a dinner of fajitas. She is an exchange student, over here for a year, staying with one of my cousins. We were at a family gathering, and she looked like she was a bit out of place, so I sat and ate with her. I am very glad I did, the resulting visit was a real eye opener.
The pretty young lady was very polite, and her English skills, while still a work in progress, were light years ahead of my Chinese (which is non-existant). She was here for the equivalent of our junior year of high school, and will return home after our school year ends.
Her purpose here is to polish her conversational and written English, and to study our culture. She is years ahead of her contemporaries in our schools in math and sciences. She is not here to learn our curriculum - she is here to learn us.
She spoke with great admiration for what she sees here. Our culture, our standard of living, our approach to life ... all alien to how she was raised. The only daughter of two college professors, she shares a two bedroom apartment on the third floor of a 12 story concrete apartment bulding, surrounded by identical apartment buildings. I listened in amazement as she described one of her best moments here - watching the sun rise and set from my cousin's back yard. With all the concrete and air pollution around her at home, she had never seen that sight before.
This girl was raised to succeed in work. She said she had never had 'fun' until being here in our country. Of course, there were times when she was happy and content at home, but that is not the same as having 'fun' - especially for a kid.
Her goal is to be a computer engineer, and is trying to decide what US engineering university she would attend. She is leaning towards CalTech, because California looked like it would be more 'fun' than MIT. Her plan is to learn 2 or 3 more languages by graduation.
Compare this with students in the US, who are lucky if they get an education that enables them to read and write ENGLISH by the time they graduate.
Having this conversation with her, while seeing my nieces and nephews with heads buired in their portable game machines, or tuning out the world with their iPods, or texting back and forth with their buds on their smart phones, and it was abundantly clear what the future holds for our country if we don't change something dramatically in our philosophy about educating our kids.
This cute, pleasant young lady (and the thousands just like her) is a greater threat to our way of life, our standard of living than all those massive Red Hordes you see charging over the hills in Korean War movies.
If we don't get our act together, China is going to own this country. Two decades from now, our kids will be eaking out a living serving hamburgers to their kids.