The Wal-Mart of America

I’ve been anticipating this day for a while now- a few weeks ago I was ordained licensed to drive the short bus.


(pic or it didn’t happen, amirite?)

Today, my training (all 20 minutes of it) paid off. Not only did I successfully manage the beast that is the short bus, but I exposed the Chinese kids to WarMar… or, as we call it in America, Wal Mart.

While I have my own personal reservations about shopping at Wallyworld, we took the kids there because it had more options for them to get what they need in one place.

We arrived and told them to stay with a buddy and meet us back at Subway in 2 hours. That’s right, I trolled WM for 2 hours. And helped the kids find stuff.

Highlights of the WARMAR trip:

Two girls bought birdhouse-making kits. Adorable, I know.

I introduced them to Twizzlers. They were a sort-of success.

I was expecting them to all buy fruits and veggies, but I forgot we were dealing with 12- and 13- year olds. Obviously, the pop aisle was the most popular. They’re going to be wired.

The laundry detergent saga was the most confusing. I had to direct them away from dishwashing detergent and to the correct laundry detergent aisle. Then I had to direct them away from the fabric softeners to the actual detergent (which, if you say enough times quickly, stops sounding like a real word). The conversation went like this: “That’s not for washing. That’s for smelling good. These are for washing. But only these 3 products in this entire aisle are what you want.” Cue the confused looks…. Just saying, we have a lot of just available to purchase just to wash our clothes. Think about it.

Yoghurt was another popular purchase. One boy was drinking it out of the carton as we were leaving the store (to each his own, eh?).

Two girls found some cups that were “so so cute and small!”…. which turned out to be a party pack of shot glasses. In their defense, the shot glasses are close to the size of everyday Chinese cups. I got a chuckle out of it.

I walked around a corner to see one boy, Eric, surrounded by 3 WarMar workers, who were looking confused and also entertained. Turns out Eric wanted to buy white sugar (hello teenage choice), and they thought he was saying ‘white rice sugar’ or something along those lines. We figured it out quickly. He didn’t buy the sugar (vetoed by le teacher).


Overall, I’m glad Tahlequah is getting a little variety. The woman at the check-out counter learned that the kids were speaking Mandarin, not some ‘Asian language’ (after I corrected her). The people around the store were all helpful and kind to the kids, which was reassuring for me to know we’re not all jerks in America.

I was also super proud of them for braving the language and cultural barriers and making it all work.

And yes, the drive back to campus was incident-free. And I played country music for them. Gotta love Tahlequah.


4 responses

  1. Elaina, you are a treasure! You’re blog (and the experiences it’s based on) is insightful and interesting. Thanks for guiding and driving our Chinese guests. Enjoy your newly-acquired professional chauffeur status!

  2. Country music and soda are probably exactly what these kids needed! A true American experience, indeed! 🙂 I love reading your blog, by the way. It makes me want to blog.

  3. Hi my name is vivek. I am from india, currently studying in weifang, china. YOu might think that india and china are the same but they are not india mostly follows western patterns in almost everything meanwhile china is china! So i am also foreigner here i do not know their language pretty well. SO i am confused about this place, i am here to study medicine…. but as u were in weifang i would like to have peice of advice from you if u can advice me that that would b great i will also learn form your experience and may b ur chinese frnds can b of my help while i am living here.. i hope you help me thanx.. COntact at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s