Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Girls of the Gil

Flirting with young female instructors played a crucial role in teaching me Chinese. For whatever reason, most Chinese teachers in mainland China are young women. I was never very good at memorizing characters or remembering intricate idioms. But I did appreciate that to master the language, I had to practice speaking as much as possible. And so every chance I had, I would chat with the teachers. Or maybe flirt. It never seemed very important as long as the language coming out of my lips was Chinese.

Learning how to shoot one of the IDF's most advanced anti-tank missiles reminded me of my Chinese learning experience. My team spent two weeks with a cadre of young female instructors mastering everything there is to know about the lethal missile. Hours of Hebrew language class time made the course fairly challenging for yours truly. I was saved by the instructors, who made extra time to tutor me one and one on the material. Their efforts paid off when I walked away with the highest mark on the two tests administered at the end of the course.

The extra tutoring was not all that brought my former Chinese instructors to mine. I was struck by the contrast between the two groups of young female instructors. In China, the state employs a cadre of young ladies to teach the language and share the national culture. Here young women of a similar age are engaged in teaching young men like me how to kill.

Call it soft versus hard power. Call it varied security dilemmas. All true. And yet the comparison refused to leave me alone as we studied a weapon without ever touching upon the horrible destruction it causes on impact. Shooting this missile is like playing a video game, staring through a small screen and guiding a missile with pinpoint accuracy. We watched dozens of real life recordings of the weapon in action and rarely did the missile miss its mark. Yet never does the camera dwell on the target after the initial impact. Others are left to pick up the pieces.

No comments:

Post a Comment