So here is a snapshot of a typical day in China.
This morning I had three classes to teach back to back. The first two are Grade 4 and they are reasonably intelligent so those classes are always enjoyable. The source of my enjoyment may be distorted by the fact that these classes are only 30 minutes long as opposed to the standard 40 because their teacher likes to have enough time to set a good amount of homework. Although she is not the warmest person I’ve ever met, relieving me of 20 minutes of teaching (read procrastinating) every Thursday morning puts her firmly in my top five people of all time.
This is followed by the Grade 3 class from hell who tend to jump on tables, fight each other and ignore me. Today one kid decided to create a collage in my class and he went all out – I didn’t confiscate your bog-standard ‘Prit Stick’, no no this kid had brought out an industrial sized bottle of PVA glue that would make Neil Buchanan proud.
Today however it dawned on me that one boy in this class has a crush on me. Last week, said boy gave me a key-ring made from pretty stones and lucky red string. Today, once I had given up trying to teach he ran up to me and said “Teacher, teacher! You are very pretty.” It was then that I realised he had developed a thing for the foreign Lao Shi. He’s quite sweet with a little round face and massive glasses. Plus he’s one of four pupils who actually make an effort in my class. Where he’s going to take it next week, I can only imagine….if the next post comes at you from a Thai beach with a picture of me on holiday with a Chinese family giving you the peace sign then you’ll know I’ve made a friend for life. However, given that I cannot remember his name, it’s probably going to end in heartbreak for the both of us.
This amusing state of affairs was brutally crushed eight hours later. This time I was giving a class to a group of adults and we were talking about things we like to do. One of the examples was going to the beach. Here’s what happened:
Me: So Kitty, do you like to go to the beach?
Kitty (aged 23): No.
Me: Oh really, why’s that?
Kitty: Because there is sun and it makes me black and (disgusted face) I don’t like that.
The whole class turns and looks at me
Me: (stunned silence)….. Oh well not everybody likes a tan in China eh!