One thing about teaching in China for so long is that your former students never forget you… they not only remember you … they come and visit you. Some even travel far to visit you. This week two of my former students came to visit me.
I was so excited although it had only been a year since I gave them that graduation speech telling them to “Stay Hungry” and enjoy their time in American…. It felt like much longer.
So they showed up at my current school after about a 2 hour train ride, in the pouring rain, with smiles on their faces. I really couldn’t believe how much they had matured and how outgoing they were. They even had jokes….. hehehe
I let them speak to my current students and answer any questions about studying abroad… they did advise them to make American friends because it helped them a lot to adjust to the culture. However, they did complain that I gave them way too many vocabulary words to remember… and that I wouldn’t let them play video games or go out drinking…. the little stinkers……
Afterward, Jet and I took them to have dinner with us. It was so interesting to hear how they found America compared to China. One thing that they told me that I was very surprised to hear was…..” All the other kids at university have side jobs and part-time jobs and we don’t. They think we are rich snobs because we don’t work and our parents pay for our schooling. That makes me feel bad, because we aren’t so rich and we do not think we are better than them, so can you tell us how we can get part-time jobs like the other kids in university?” I was floored. These were the “little Emperors of China“… the ones that didn’t feel they needed to do anything for anyone and were spoiled little brats….They wanted to work? and They want to prove to others that they weren’t spoiled rich kids? …. Wow… Who were these guys?
After dinner, we went up to my apartment and talked about the past and other students and where they were and what are they doing. I think we talked until 9 or 10 pm. I felt like they were my kids coming to visit their American mother.
They told me about their favorite American foods… you could tell that one of them had stayed with a Black family because he was going on and on about how good BBQ was and that the meat and sauce was so good. The other was telling about how the museums in New York were so amazing… and how they wanted to get their driver’s license so they could travel around America.
I was so proud of these boys…. they had become so much more mature and outgoing than before. They had seen that there were so many talented people in America and that some people were so kind and others very racist but they all lived in the same country. They were not excited about how the racism was worst than they thought it would be but they told me that in that one year they had learned so much.
I guess whenever I start to lose faith in my country…. I listen to my students that are studying abroad and how they are adjusting and how they are accepted by their peers and I have renewed my faith that America is still one of the best countries in the world.
I also can’t help but think, how well I prepared these boys for their life changing time abroad. When I think of these guys and the hundreds of others I have helped to go abroad.. I think to myself… this is what the job of a teacher is…. to prepare them for the real world….. and I did just that.
Until Next Time…..