Why Do Asians Always Do The Peace Sign?!

I sent a few pictures to my Dad of my recent field trip with my ESL students. He said, “Why do Asians always do the peace sign in pictures? They always did it when you lived in China.”

Anji, China

In China


“When you visited Korea and Japan, they did it too. ”

Koreans Doing Peace Sign

In Korea

Japanese people doing the v

In Japan

“They do it in the US. What does it mean and why did it start?”

I was able to explain that it actually is a “v” for victory, not a peace sign. But what does it really mean, and when did it start? I wasn’t able to give an explanation. So, I thought I’d do a little research on the topic.

The V sign began to be used during World War II by Allied troops.  Victor de Laveleye, former Belgian Minister of Justice, suggested the V sign on his 1941 BBC news broadcast as a way to rally support for the war. It spread through Belgium and moved on to France and the Netherlands and eventually all of Europe. Even Winston Churchill used the V for victory sign.

US President Richard Nixon went on to use the V sign for victory in the Vietnam War. However, protesters and hippies who were against the Vietnam War, changed the v from “victory”  to “peace” by holding up the same sign but saying “peace” as they did it as a subtle protest of the war. They wanted this hand gesture to change from its meaning of war to a meaning of positivity and happiness. 

The V sign probably became popular in Asia through an ice skater named Janet Lynn, who was a peace activist. She was often photographed in the Japanese media in the 1970s doing this sign.  Although the Japanese knew the V sign as victory because of WWII, Janet Lynn often displayed this sign as peace.

Another story says that a famous Japanese actor named Jun Inoue starred in some camera commercials in the 70’s where he flashed the V sign, thinking it was popular in the West, and it caught on from those commercials.  All in all, a lot of Asia copies Japan. And more importantly, Asia copies the West. Whether or not it was from seeing this ice skater make the V sign and thinking it was a popular thing to do in the West, we may never know.

China, Taiwan, and South Korea are also well known for doing this sign in photos. They say that the symbol means “yeah!”, like they are feeling good. But, really, Asians do so many poses for photos. They have the need to do hand gestures  in almost every informal photo.

There is one that guys do in China that means handsome. They might even just throw up a fist.

Chinese guy pose for photo

My students Cole and Soul doing the handsome pose and a fist


When girls do the V sign, it is usually close to their face. My Chinese friends told me it is a good chance for them to cover up some of their fat face. (Having a fat face is a big issue that many Asian girls dread).

Asian girl doing peace sign


I had to include this photo of me and my friend Ben in a bowling alley in China. Here I am being all fierce and competitive, and he told me he was doing a pose like a flower!

bowling in China


I even started doing the V sign after living in China for 2 years and traveling there in the years after.  It just became natural. In fact, it was nice to actually have something to do in a photo instead of just standing there awkwardly with my hands down to my sides.

Americans in China

Not a single Chinese person in sight, but here we are in China doing the V sign


American and Chinese on Great Wall of China


So the general rule of thumb is for that every month you live in Asia, you are 5% more likely to throw up your V sign in a photo. And, actually, it can be kind of fun. :] So I’m still not sure I fully understand why Asians do the V sign, but hey, sometimes with cultural differences, we don’t need to and can’t fully understand certain phenomenons, and there’s a real beauty in that.

Learning, Disconnecting, and Adventuring

Some people are scared of change; some people thrive on it. I fall more into the latter category. I get bored if things never change. I need movement in life, fluidity, and unexpected opportunities. So, I always welcome the new year and see it as a time to plan some changes. Here are 3 simple ideas for changes and improvements for the upcoming year.

1. Learn something new.
This might mean paying a $50 audit fee to take that college abnormal psychology class you’ve always been interested in. It might mean watching a series of YouTube videos to teach yourself how to cook French food. It may simply mean reading a book about a topic you’re interested in. Learn something this year. In fact, don’t stop at one-learn several somethings!

2. Spend less time with your electronics.
How much more could we all accomplish in life if we disconnected more? Think about how many of our activities revolve around our electronics-playing on social media, watching Netflix, playing a game system, messing around on our phones, and I could go on and on. When I was a kid, in the summers, my mom made us have 1 day a week that was “no tv day”. I remember I’d always be upset about it at first, but those always ended up being the days I had the most adventures. If we disconnect, we would have time to get outdoors and take that walk to become healthier; we’d be able to paint the spare bedroom like we’ve been wanting to do for the past 2 years. We would connect more face-to-face with our friends and family. Give yourself a no tv day this year!

3. Go on an adventure.
We all tend to think of adventures as huge ordeals. Yes, taking a trip to Japan is indeed an adventure. However, going hiking an hour away from your house at that state park you’ve been wanting to go to is also an adventure. I try to do things very often that are adventurous in order to spice up my life. When you’re taking a road trip somewhere, pull off at the town you’ve always seen the sign for and been curious about. Yes, I’ve traveled to quite a few places and had quite a few adventures, but I’m going to tell you about the most mundane adventure I’ve had. There’s a convenience store on the way to the park that I’ve passed by 100s of times. For some strange reason, it has always intrigued me. I was telling my friend that as we drove by once, and he said, “Well, let’s go in then.” And we did, and it was not that exciting of a place. But, the point is, I did something I had been wanting to do, to see, or to explore. I still think about that day. How weird is that? So, no matter how mundane, go on an adventure!

These are my 3 tips to enjoy 2014. Do you have any you would add? Please share if you know anyone who would benefit from these tips. Happy New Year!

I Love You, My Little Elephant

Do you like when your significant other calls you “sweetheart”? What about when you mom calls you “baby”? Do you mind when a waitress calls you “sugar”?

A term of endearment is more commonly known as a pet name. They are used to refer to those for whom you have a great affection for- your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, your children, and even your friends. For example, my mom will still call me baby when I’m using a walker and placing my teeth beside my bed each night. And my boyfriends always end up with some funny, but cute, pet name, such as monkey or Pancho.

Calling those people pet names makes sense to me, but what about using terms of endearment for complete strangers? Waitresses are notorious for calling us sweetie-honey-baby-pumpkin-sugar, aren’t they? Just today, the lady who was checking me out at the store called me baby doll. Do older people tend to use terms of endearment more than younger people? Do people in the South use them more than people in the North? Are pet names different around the world?

Every time I visit the South, I hear pet names used more frequently and also more frequently by strangers. I also feel that older people use these names more often than us younger folk.

Have you ever been offended by being called a pet name? The owner of the garage I take my car to get fixed always calls me honey. Never fails. From the first time I met him, to every time I take my car there, he calls me honey. At first I thought he was being a smart-aleck, telling me I don’t know anything about cars (I don’t. But, I know my car is gray. Boom! I’m doing good!).  After taking my car there several times, I discovered that that’s just how he talks to everyone. I am no longer offended.

Sometimes I feel like I have to be a little defensive about my age. I feel that some people don’t take me seriously, because I’m a young professor. So when a stranger calls me sweetie or baby, I automatically want to start defending myself- “Hey! I am not a baby! I’m a big girl. I make my own money. I have a career. I pay my own bills. I’m I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T.” Then it trails off into that  song featuring some rapper named Little Boosie. But….I digress.

Sweet foods are often used as pet names in the US- sugar, honey,   And food in general is used quite a bit, such as pumpkin, cupcake, sweetie pie. What about in other countries? What are common pet names there?

Would you appreciate being called an egg with eyes or tamago gata no kao. That’s what women are sometimes called in Japan since having an egg or oval shaped face is considered beautiful.

France has a few strange ones- you might get called a little cabbage (petit chou)  or a flea (ma puce).

Since elephants are considered lucky in Thailand, the term chang noi, or little elephant, might be whispered in your ear by your significant other.

I love that in the romance languages (Spanish, Italian, French, etc.,  speakers used diminutives to show affection. A diminutive is when a word is made smaller, to show endearment. For example, in Spanish, mi abuelita, means my dear grandmother. Amorito literally means little love but is something like honey. It is usually done by adding the “ita” or “ito” to the end of a word.  I wish it was more common to do this in English, because I think it’s charming!

Let me know your thoughts on pet names.  It seems to be pretty divisive!  As always, please share on your social media if you thought this was interesting. Until next time, my little flea!

Miss Melting Pot

I usually don’t pay attention to things like the Miss America Pageant. In fact, I usually avoid them. However, the pageant last night has really caught some attention  because of the winner. Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, is an Indian American, as in, her family is from India. She was born in New York, but her parents came to the US from India in the 80’s. She’s the first Indian American to win Miss America, and many American people were not ok with this apparently. Twitter exploded with rants and raves about a Muslim winning Miss America, one Tweeter even going as far as calling Nina a terrorist.  Tweeters whined about how a “person like this” shouldn’t be winning so soon after 9/11. And most tweeters just sounded ignorant- making 7-11 jokes, calling her Egyptian, and saying “This is America.” (Read all the tweets here.)

Do people forget that America was founded on immigration? Are most of the people upset about this Native Americans? My guess is no. My guess is their families came from another country too; it just may have been more generations ago. Why is it ok to be an immigrant if you’re white but not ok if you’re any other color? Why did so many people say that Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, should have won? Just because she is blonde and likes to hunt instead of enjoying Bollywood dancing?  Is Miss Kansas more American than Miss New York? I wasn’t aware that skin color and interests made a person American.

In school, we were always taught that America is a melting pot, people from different countries and cultures came together in the US and became one country and one people. However, I believe more in the salad bowl theory, which says many people come to the US and become Americans,  yet they can still retain things from their home countries and home cultures. We are lettuce, and tomatoes, and cheese. We are in the salad bowl together, but we remain as separate items at the same time.  That is what allows people to be Indian American, or Mexican American, or Italian American, or whatever they may be. That is what makes American great; we aren’t homogeneous.  We eat Mexican food for lunch, then we have Chinese food for dinner. We share and learn from each other’s backgrounds or cultures.

I don’t know. She looks American to me.

Miss New York

Source: buzzfeed.com

The Queen of, like, Everywhere

I was sitting around chatting with some friends when somehow we started talking about Australia and its government. I said something about the Queen and everyone was like, “Huh?!” I mentioned that the Queen of England is also the Queen of Australia technically. She’s also the Queen of Canada, New Zealand, and on and on. No one believed me. Why do I know these random facts anyway? Haha. So here is some info on how the Queen is the queen of everywhere!

Queen of England meme

Image from memegenerator.co

The Queen is currently sovereign over 15 commonwealths. The Commonwealth has existed for more than 60 years and is made up of 54 independent countries, which used to be under British rule. In 1949, India became the first country to become independent, yet want to stay tied to the Commonwealth group. The London Declaration declared King George the VI as the King of these countries, and then Queen Elizabeth the II after King George’s death. Some other countries that are a part of the Commonwealth are South Africa, Belize, Pakistan, Singapore, Ghana, Bangladesh, and so many more.

So while there are 54 independent countries, there are still 15 that are controlled by royalty. What does that mean exactly? Just like England, Canada has a prime minister instead of a president. Have you ever wondered why? Well, now you know. Countries with royalty usually have a King or Queen who is just a figure-head, while the prime minister is the one with the political power.

The same is true for the 15 Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK-Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St Lucia and The Bahamas.

Many of these are islands, some of which we may not have even heard of, but I think many people will be shocked to hear that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Jamaica have a queen.
Check out this website for more info on any of this. Did you already know this? Do you know any more crazy facts like this that none of your friends knew or even believed you? And, as always, please share on your social media sites if you want your friends to read this too!

Letting Go

I’m obsessed with quotes. I  have books of quotes. I put quotes as my Facebook status. I Google quotes according to how I feel. So, tonight I want to share a few quotes I’ve found about letting go, moving on, and moving forward. We all have something in our lives that we need to let go of or move on from. So, let’s make a concerted effort to do so!

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.”
― C. JoyBell C.

“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?”

― Mary Manin Morrissey

You’ve gotta know when it’s time to turn the page.”
 Tori Amos

“Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.”
― Nicole Sobon

“You can’t look back – you just have to put the past behind you, and find something better in your future.”
 Jodi Picoult

“Moving on is easy. It’s staying moved on that’s trickier.”
 Katerina Stoykova Klemer

“Never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”
― Beryl Markham

“She took a step and didn’t want to take any more, but she did.”
― Markus Zusak

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”
Theodore Roosevelt 

Miss Fugett is an Angel

I can’t get a break in the cafeteria at school. A student is either asking me what they got on the test that they just finished taking 5 minutes before lunch, or they’re trying to put the moves on me. Most recently, it was the latter.

I walked by a table of basketball players, many of whom were in my college composition classes in recently. As I walked to the salad bar, I patted one student, A, on the shoulder and said a general hello to the table. A jumped approximately 10 feet in the air when I touched him. Another student, J, wasted no time.

“Hey. Miss Fugett, you know why A jumped when you patted his shoulder?”

“Uh, no J. I don’t know,” I said a bit confused.

J then went on to say, “It’s because A never had an angel touch him before!”


A jumps in- “Uh, yeah Miss Fugett. Yeah! I never had no angel near me.”

I look at them both and they have the biggest, cheesiest grins on their faces. (I don’t even know what their teammates thought at this point…) And I said, “Guys! You don’t even have me for class anymore. There’s no opportunity for bonus points.” and continued on my way to the salad bar.

Sometimes I wonder about college boys. And apparently sometimes they wonder about me as well!

Goodbyes Are, In Fact, Not “Good”

Saying goodbye is hard. It doesn’t matter how many times in our lives we do it; we simply don’t get good at it. Saying goodbye is especially difficult when you’re not sure if you’ll ever see the person again. It seems like those are always the types of goodbyes I’m saying.

I started thinking about this because, as a faculty member, I have to participate in graduation each May. I have to sit on the stage in my cap and gown and watch each graduate cross the stage and receive their diploma. I’m such a sap, that when a student that I’ve grown close to over the years makes their way across the stage, I have to hold back a few stray tears. That’s just how I am. I’m always thinking annoying thoughts like, “What if this is the last time I see her…ever!?”

My hardest part about leaving China to move back to the US was the thought that I was leaving SO many people that I just knew I’d never see again. And here I am again in a situation like that. Students graduate and are out of my life forever. Some students transfer, and I don’t even realize they aren’t coming back, so I don’t even get to say goodbye.

And sometimes we need to voluntarily tell people goodbye permanently. Sometimes we find ourself in a toxic friendship or relationship, and we must make the decision to tell that person goodbye for good. I find this to be the most difficult goodbye. A graduation or a move situationally forces us to say goodbye, but this is all up to us. It’s hard and usually painful. But, we usually end up being better for it, happier for it, in the end. Time makes us forget people, or just remember them a bit less. And sometimes that’s a helpful thing. A good thing. Goodbye.

College Souvenirs

College. Oh, college. It’s a special time in life. Friends are made, habits are formed, and sometimes you pick up a thing or two. One is hopefully a degree. But, sometimes you pick up something you weren’t quite expecting….like a disease. Yes. I admit it. Shamefully, I contracted a disease in college. It’s called boxfanitus. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

I lived in the dorms, which are often quite loud. I bought a box fan to drown out my noisy roommate. And the neighbors. And the girl on the basketball team who lived above me and insisted on dribbling her basketball. Incessantly. The fan worked really well to help me fall asleep peacefully.

However, it also created an addiction, a sickness, a disease. 10 years later, I still use a fan to sleep. In fact, I can’t sleep without a fan buzzing in the background. I wear out fans, because I run them all night, every night.

This also creates a problem when traveling. Most normal people don’t have boxfanitus, so they don’t offer you the droning noise of a fan to help lull you to sleep. A hotel usually doesn’t come equipped with a fan. What’s a girl to do?! Praise the good Lord in heaven that there are now sound machine apps that can recreate that soothing fan noise! My iPhone has been my savior many a trip now.

I wish I could kick this habit, get rid of this disease. Are there recovery groups for this? I’d imagine not. A pill you can take? Oh well. I guess I’m stuck with boxfanitus for life.

Finish Each Day And Be Done With It

I had a bad day yesterday. Not just a normal Monday, but a tears-streaming-down-your-face kind of Monday.

Monday meme, I hate Monday

Photo from weknowmemes.com

I don’t know what my deal was, but I was glad to just be able to go to sleep and start fresh today. And today I actually had a really great day, a much happier day. Ralph Waldo Emerson has a poem that reminds me how to get through a no good rotten day.

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations

Emerson confessed to be an optimist,and I need a good dose of optimism sometimes. I need to remind myself that I’m not having a bad week or a bad year, just a bad day. Each day is new and fresh. I think my favorite line is “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.” So, on that note, I’m going to bed.  :]