I spend a lot of my time in China trying to show a good representation of American and I mainly focus on Black Americans… due to the fact that we are portrayed badly in most movies that I have seen over here. So, I make a point to keep my temper and not …”Get Ghetto”… However… I was very shocked to see some of my student being ghetto in one of my class activities. Let me explain what happened.
I teach adult students, mostly businessmen and women, who are pretty wealthy by Chinese standards. To make my English classes more interesting I sometimes take them out in the town to practice their language skills and just point out real life things.
This day we decided to go to the shopping mall. Nothing to special, just go out and point out items for them to tell me in English. Photos are okay in class but sometimes you want them to see the actual object so they can associate the name with the item.
So, myself and another foreign teacher took about 6 students and two Chinese teachers to the Mall, that was within walking distance from the school. Once we were all together in the doorway, I passed out a paper with a list of items for them to associate with the actually items in the shops. Basically, just point and tell me what is the item. After about 10 minutes of walking around the shoe department and pointing at items and asking them what is this. We were stopped by the mall security, and told to get out.
This was a surprise to me.. since we were only walking around and pointing at things… we were in our normal clothes and had nothing that showed we were anything but regular customers pointing and looking at things.
However, the slightly overweight, bald security guard was very harsh when he was pointing and yelling in Chinese. This caused my students to get loud right back. Since, my Chinese isn’t that good yet, I was a little confused on why he was wanting us to leave. So, I asked the Chinese teacher what was going on. She said, he thinks we are advertising the school. I said how? We have nothing that has the school name on it and we are not talking to anyone but ourselves? She replied I know.
Umm this is where the ghetto part started… two of my students..(husband and wife ) were very upset about being interrupted .. and loudly expressed their concern with the security guards interference. They were so loud that they drew a large crowd. Well, if they thought we were advertising the school before.. that is nothing compared to the attention we were getting now. (smile)…. We stood in the middle of the mall waiting for the other half of our group.
We had separated into two groups… so the other group had made it upstairs… but we were not allowed to go upstairs and get them… so we were standing at the foot of the escalator waiting for them…. and so were about 20 other onlookers. My students were so upset that they called the police. They said to the security guard that .. they were not doing anything wrong and that they are not leaving until he understands that.. and that the police would settle it.
Therefore, we had to wait for the police to arrive….. in the meantime the other half of our group arrived and asked us.. what was happening… of course we explained… when the other students began to get involved in the argument with the security guard and more security guards appeared.
Now mind you, in China .. I am usually the center of attention wherever I go… because I am a foreigner.. however, now I was a foreigner with a bunch of Chinese people yelling and screaming around me. It seemed like the entire mall stopped and came to see what was going on.
Finally, after 15 minutes of waiting the police finally arrived. Then the yelling got louder, and I am pretty sure one of my little students, threaten to knock-out the bald security guard. After quite a loud discussion.. they all decided to watch the video to see if we were advertising or handing out flyers to the patrons of the mall.
We were all taken to the back of the store to the camera room.. where I saw myself .. handing out the papers to my students…. this is what they thought was marketing for my school… my students quickly informed them that I handed the papers to them… not customers. They showed the papers to them.. which in fact, only had a list of English words… no letterhead or anything.
When it was obvious that we were right and they were wrong.. I figured the issued was solved and we could go … however… I was wrong… My students then demanded for them to apologize to them and to me. They felt that we were treated unfairly and that their “teacher” that is me… was disrespected and they were not going anywhere until they and I received an apology.
I told them that this was not necessary … and that we should just go.. since we had been in the mall for an hour already and not accomplished anything that I had planned for the class. They refused to leave… telling me NO… they will apologize to you .. my teacher. If my eyes did not deceived me I saw her move her head in a ghetto like fashion. I just tried to hold back my amusement.
Finally, after several minutes of more loud talking, pointing and head shaking…. the little bald security guard’s boss told him… he needed to apologize to us. The look on this guy’s face was priceless… I thought his head was going to explode. My students made him “lose face” by saying he was wrong and making him apologize to a foreigner. Then my students shook hands with the boss and the police dude. While the security guard looked all dejected in the corner.
I felt kind of bad for the dude… kind of…. afterall.. he did accuse us of doing something we were not doing…. after that I quickly .. rushed my students and the other foreign teacher out of the offices and out of the mall.
I honestly felt like I would never be able to shop in that mall again for a long time. Now when we were leaving we had an even larger crowd of people checking us out as we were leaving. I have to say that my students actually were very ghetto in the store. Now that I think about it .. I can laugh because I know they were protecting me .. in a way… but I am not sure it was the right way.
I can appreciate their support and respect for me and my feelings.. but .. I was more embarrassed by the scene that they caused.
When I got back to the school.. I thought to myself… umm.. maybe I will hold off on the public activities … or just keep them in the park or by the river….Little did I know… that my students could get crazy like that… kind of made me feel like home… (smile)
until next time…