Cultural Differences in Chinese Fire Drill Lead to Explosion

January 25, 2011 9:15 am
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Cultural Differences in Chinese Fire Drill Lead to Explosion

Investigators have concluded that the car outside of Bob recently caught fire due to a misunderstanding about Chinese Fire Drills, according to Don Gifford, captain of the San Jose Arson Squad.

“What we have here is a basic miscommunication,” commented Mr. Gifford, who headed the investigation. “One student had a different definition of what a ‘Chinese Fire Drill’ actually is.”

Huan Lee, an international student from Beijing and a sophomore here at Stanford, is now being charged with arson. The police investigation has concluded that Mr. Lee was riding shotgun in a car with acquaintances when they approached a stop sign. One student yelled, ‘Chinese Fire Drill!’ and everyone immediately jumped out of the car.

While typically a Chinese Fire Drill involves running around the car and ending up in different seats, Lee instead doused the car in gasoline and lit it on fire, as his friends watched in confusion.

Professor Bob Sorrows, an expert on Chinese culture here at Stanford University, offers an explanation.
“This is all about the culture gap,” Mr. Sorrows explained. “In addition to Chinese food being very different in China from what the way it is here in the U.S., their concept of Chinese Fire Drills is very different.”

“I’m very sorry for this misunderstanding,” said Mr. Lee, who is currently being held in San Jose County Jail. “I wish I had known what a Chinese Fire Drill was before this incident.”

Stanford University is now looking into more comprehensive International Student Orientation for next year to prevent such misunderstandings in the future.