Truth: Half the time I want to go screaming and running towards the woods (the hypothetical woods, like when I get called too fat to be on a stair stepper, just sayin').
Another truth: My relationships with students past and present are the ties the bind, glue that holds, strings that secure me to Chi.na, more specifically, Hangzhou.
My dear presh-head student Sophie is spending a few months living on my campus studying under some famous professor in Computer Science. I ran into her randomly on campus a few weeks ago and planned to have a meal together. Today it happened.
She brought along her friend, Gary, who graduated from HDU - the school I used to teach at, and is now a Master's student at ZJU - my current school.
We met on campus and walked to Hangzhou's most famous string of restaurants, "Grandma's Kitchen." It's my fave place to eat in town - there are many locations but the menu is the same at each one and there's always a long wait. Tonight we were lucky and only waited like 10 minutes.
We ate tomato fish soup, rice dumplings, greens, clams and eggs, and mushrooms cooked with fish balls. It was glorious.
Me and the presh-heads:
We talked about why Chi.na blocks facebook, that they don't feel any danger in saying anything outloud, "unlike 30 years ago," that they only speak dialect with their parents but feel they can express themselves in dialect and Mandarin the same. We talked about traveling in Chi.na, our families, summer time, and getting bikes stolen. I told them some funny stories of my saying stupid things in Chin.ese on accident and showed them my class text books to which they replied, "Your level is high, but your writing is poor! heeheeheee." We talked about the struggles of learning Chi.nese and English (English has more words, but Chin.ese has tones). We talked about accents in America and what countries I've traveled to.
One thing is: I still can't get Sophie to stop calling me, "Jessica Teacher." In Chi.nese, the standard way to address a teacher is to place the word, "teacher" after their last name. Because I went by, "Jessica," as a college teacher, my most polite students resorted to calling me, "Jessica Teacher." I tried and tried to get them to stop (it sounds so weird to me), but dear, precious, Sophie clings to her respectful nature.
It was a great way to spend a Sunday evening.
After 3 hours of chit-chatting in a wonderful mixture of Chin.ese and English, we headed back to campus.
The next time I want to holler like a banchee - I'm going to remember these lovebugs. Gary and Sophie. I was so much happier as a teacher, students breathe life into me. There's is so much purpose when you are a teacher - especially a teacher in another culture.
Thank God for reminders of the ties that bind. And tomato fish soup.
walk slow. xoxo.