It is always enraging when you see someone bluntly missing opportunities.

I was having lunch with Keanyen at a middle-eastern restaurant in SanLiTun, ‘Bite-a-pita’. The food was nice, and the place OK, though it was in one of these sleazy SanLiTun expat dens.

Our waitress-in-a-pink-top had a beautiful smile, and an engagin, open, friendly attitude. I though she was ozzie – she was. Her teacher-parents had lived with her in Indonesia first, then Singapore, now Beijing. She had just graduated from high-school, and she was going back to Brisbane in December.

She was a real pleasure to talk to, and I thought, wow, smart girl, four years in Singapore, six in China – she’s gonna rule Queensland Uni.

But when I asked her, she said she didn’t really speak Chinese. ‘I didn’t take Chinese at school’, she explained, ‘the level’s just too high here, so I took French instead, I mean, I needed good grades for uni, and it was just too much.’ So the smart girl, 6 years in China, 4 in Singapore, doesn’t really speak Chinese, cannot read or write it at all.

‘I’m really glad I can work here,’ she said, about her waitering job at bite-a-pita  ‘it’s a great experience, it’s really gonna help me get a job, when I go to Brisbane.’

Sure is. More so than fluent Chinese, right? Who needs it in Australia.


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