They all seemed to be very knowledgeable about the politics and history of the United States, often more so than Americans I know. This one guy was asked me, "New York is blue state, yes?" and this other guy watched the show "Boston Legal" and knew terms like civil court, criminal court, attorney, prosecution, defendant, and plaintiff. He asked very intelligent questions about juries, judges, and trial procedure. I also was asked if I thought Republicans and Democrats were hypocritical, because most Republicans are pro-life but pro-death penalty and most Democrats are pro-choice but anti-death penalty. One really wanted to know where Minnesota was (geographically speaking) because he had a teacher that lived there. And they also wanted to know why my city was named Buffalo but we have no buffalo (it’s a good point). Then we were talking about the US economy, the housing bubble, what newspapers I read ("New York Times or Washington Post"?), the yuan-dollar exchange rate, illegal immigration (in the US), Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Bush, Obama, books, Christianity, conservatives, liberals...I’m usually there for a good 3 hours, 8pm-11pm. Some people would have to leave every hour but then others would show up. The Boston Legal guy (William, I think his name was) had great English and he also spoke French, I found out, when his friend from France that worked in the Xiamen physics department showed up.
Actually, most of them had pretty good English, even the high school students. I told them it was impressive that they spoke so well because English and Chinese have very little in common, and my Chinese is terrible. Apparently they start learning English in kindergarten. I said maybe we (Americans) should all have to learn Chinese too so it is fair. They thought that was funny. This one older man who came said he doesn't think it's worth it to make ALL Chinese students learn English, because many of them don't end up needing it for their work and don't bother practicing anymore and forget it. I said more Americans should learn other languages but they get lazy because of the "Everyone speaks/should speak English" attitude. They agreed with that, especially the French guy.