Thursday, October 20, 2005

Touching Lives (They Feel Sticky)

There are high points to teaching younger people. My favorite classes are my pre-teens and young teens, kids between maybe 10 and 14. These kids are old enough that they should be learning, old enough to understand my jokes, and old enough to feel embarrassed when I humiliate them. Case in point: I've got a class with three kids named Tom who all sit next to each other. Each time I want a Tom to answer a question I need to designate which Tom I'm asking, usually through a silly distinguishment such as "Tom with the black shoes" or "Old Tom." Regardless, the Toms never pay attention, so the other day I simply called on "Tom with the dirty underwear." One of the Toms began to answer the question, all the other students laughed at him, and he paid attention for the rest of class.

But there are instances where the power trip of teaching gets a little ridiculous. Well, I'm going to assume this doesnt happen too often in "real" schools in "real" countries. I walked into a class the other day wearing my glasses as I was tired. Usually, when I'm tired, I find it linked to myeyes so I like to give them a rest from the contacts. Anywho, I walked into this class donning my specs for the first time towards the pleasure of those students. The girls erupted and for the next 5-10 minutes the entire class debated whether I was better looking with or without my glasses. In the end, a vote was held and the class was split, however they all agreed that teacher (me) is very very handsome both with glasses and without. Then some of the girls gave me candy and we finally began the lesson.

Now, I can't blame the girls, cuz, hey, look at the pictures.

Now and then I get similar reactions from other Chinese, not just my students, not just little girls. I jumped in a cab the other day and the driver claimed to recognize me. Attempting to brush him off (I was very much not-sober), he kept persisting and began to tell stories about me that no random Chinese would know unless I had actually had a conversation with them. He then brushed aside an RMB off the fare as I didnt have exact change, proving that this guy actually met me and actually considered me a friend of sorts.

I've learned a lot here in China since February, some lessons through trials by fire, some unwarranted, so flat out unwanted; but now and then things like these happen that keep me going.


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