The principal of my high school had this ritual of telling us girls that boys are bad and girls are good—BB and GG. Well, I have never truly considered boys bad, but they have always been these strange creatures that lace the atmosphere with awkwardness and cause me no end of internal unease. So I have avoided them for the most part. Simple enough. That is until I finished my first week of classes and discovered that I have fifty-one girls and a hundred and fifty-one boys. To make matters just a little more awkward most of my students are around 20 years old, making them only a few years younger than I am. Oh, and add to that, I have the adored and esteemed physical characteristics of blonde hair, big eyes, and a high-bridged nose that can attract a crowd in any public setting (but that story is for another time).
So I made myself as teachery as possible (and as girlfriend materialish as little as possible). Still in that first month, I must have received dozens of “Teacher, you are so beautiful”; “Teacher, you have amazing skin”; “Teacher, this”; and “Teacher, that.” But soon enough, my students became inured to my appearance, and I discovered how wonderful almost completely male classes can be—no chattering or giggling or whispering or passing notes or any of the other things that girls love to do. My boys (as I now fondly consider them) follow me with their eyes, talk when I tell them and cease to talk when I tell them. Oh, the glory of control! Plus, they can be simply hilarious with their antics and English stories.
So here is to my boys: a few snapshots of the best and the brightest.
Dream is a tall boy who is one of the bravest students: he was the first student to come visit me during office hours. While his English is not great, he is like the name he has chosen, for he is one of the most hard-working students in the class. I believe Dream will accomplish all his dreams.
Bruce, known as Monkey to his classmates, introduced himself to me as Bruce Lee. He also gives me Chinese movie recommendations and even bought me a gift that related to one of the movies he recommended. He is an amazing artist and invents some the most coherent and creative English stories during class.
Lancelot is definitely one of my favorites. When I asked him if he knew where his name was from, he gave me the story of Lancelot, Merlin, and Arthur. His English is outstanding. One day when I had them bring creative items to class to “sell” in a commercial, he brought a real apple into which he plugged some headphones, proposing that the apple was both a MP3 and breakfast. Most other students sold their pens with no special attributes.
Jeremy is my most unique student and the one I think will go furthest. His English is the best of all my 200+ students. But more spectacular, he is the only student in China I have ever met who possesses true critical thinking skills and recognizes the importance of such skills. In China, it is unheard of to criticize the government or the country—everyone loves China and seems to be blinded by that love (at least in public). When I was talking to Jeremy the other day, I mentioned Taiwan and Hong Kong as being part of China (for even though they essentially are not, it is safer to go with the official Communist line while in China), he jumped in and said, “Well, the government thinks they are part of China.” Woa! What insight into the true nature of his own country.
I could go on to mention my other interesting students, like Vampire or Dragon or Stone, but it will suffice to say that my students in China are a whole new experience, resulting in much laughter, bewilderment, exasperation, or amazement.