What Does This Mean?


I cannot say with absolute certainty that the kitchen (dining area/kitchenette) of an ESL school is any different than the equivalent room in any other office space. There are lots of objects that are common to both.  I am sure that cutlery disappears with equal frequency.  However, I have the gut feeling that it is different.

The ESL eating area is not packed with nicely co-ordinated, store bought, dishes and plates. Even calling it a ragtag collection of dishes, cups, and disappearing utensils doesn’t seem to measure up.  If I were to characterize it, I would call it a dumping ground for non-offensive kitsch from all over the world.  Often students bring us souvenirs, or departing teacher’s leave things behind that they acquired from students, or in their travels.

Today, as I was cleaning up my coffee cup I spotted the cup above in the drain rack and decided to take a look. I was a little confused by the message and I hope you can clear it up for me.

You see, I had two conflicting thoughts about the cup’s message. Does it mean:

  1.  Hey USA! Go out and discover the world around you. Go see that there is beauty beyond your boarders and ideas beyond your thinking.
  2. The world is in the USA.
  3.  Something completely different but unclear to me.

I am a big believer in travel and exploration. There is a great big world of ideas out there that we need to see and experience.  So, I am hoping it is the first idea that it is trying to get across.

I polled all the teachers I could and more than 90% thought it was the second one.

I have no idea, but I need to mull it over. I would be happy to receive your input.


The other funny thing is that the back of the cup is written in Spanish and conveys a completely different idea–something like, we travel to change not our place but our ideas.

That’s a pretty cool thought.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, coffee, ESL, gifts, souvenirs, students and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to What Does This Mean?

  1. Claudette says:

    I’m clueless, especially because the back is in Spanish. ?

  2. Jinjer says:

    Based on the message on the back, I would say it’s telling the Americans to get out there and discover the world and some new ideas. What confuses me is the Spanish. Aren’t aboriginal mountains in Australia? Or no? Can they be other places? Sorry, I got a D in Geography.

  3. frangipani says:

    I imagine there is a series of cups with Discover the World theme – so this cup says USA, and the other cups might be UK, Germany, Africa, etc. So if you went to all the countries you would collect a series. This cup is a memento of a USA trip taken whilst discovering the world.
    Anyway, that’s how I would see it.

    • Anthony says:

      Possible. Maybe even probable.
      How did it end up in the collection of ESL teachers (who make a garage sale/boot sale/charity jumble …look organized) kitchen?

      • frangipani says:

        Sounds like a gift from a student?

      • Anthony says:

        It is possible, but usually students bring in cups from their own country, or “best teacher” mugs from the dollar store. It could be that some teacher couldn’t sell the cup at a garage sale and brought it in.
        However you slice it, the cup has joined the ranks.

  4. Hunida says:

    I would say #1 since the words translated in spanish make more sense that way.

    • Anthony says:

      Thank you for your response Hunida. How have you been? I haven’t seen any blogs from you for a while…. I hope you are doing well.

      • Hunida says:

        Been doing good, thank you, Anthony! I went on a trip back home to Minnesota so I neglected the blog a little. Slowly but surely getting back into the daily groove. ;D

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