I just finished my final week as an English teacher at Anhui University in Hefei, China. I’ve learned a lot, taught a lot and hopefully inspired a lot.
My final exam for my students, all but one freshmen, was for them to give either a stump speech or a presentation about a badge they created. They talked about everything under the sun, from animal protection to zombies and so much more. A good chunk focused on environmental issues, education issues and the food service on campus. It was an enlightening experience to listen to their thoughts and ideas.
The best line from any of the speeches was from a boy who spoke about cannibalism (supposedly a growing issue around the world) and ended by saying some think it is a sign of the zombie apocalypse. He then said as options for how to react to the problem, “One, sit back and wait for the zombies to come, or two, pick up weapons and fight.”
Other great one-liners include this translation of a Mao quote: “Any relationships that don’t end in marriage are all crap,” or this bit of wisdom, “managing a successful marriage is the most difficult career.”
Friday night I held a party for all of my students. It was a dance party but that means they sit and watch as we attempt to get them to dance until I start teaching them dances. A heat wave came to town that day and made it extremely hot and humid, but it was still fun. I taught them the Virginia Reel, the Macarena, YMCA and the Chicken Dance. We also did the limbo and had a piñata that I made with a balloon, paper and flour paste.
They came up and gave gifts as classes including lots of personal messages. Perhaps the most personal gifts besides the notes are two posters made with Up graphics and images from adventures with the class. They also gave me a shirt with Russell from Up on it.
Now, I’ve submitted my grades and am preparing to travel several thousand kilometers by train all around China for a few weeks. I had
good days and bad days as a teacher, days when I gave lectures to seemingly uncaring students and days when we laughed and laughed with each other over the stupidest things. I’m not sure if this will be my last time as a teacher like this. Honestly, it is a pretty sweet gig. But it is time to go home and do some other things.
I hope my students work hard and remember a little bit of what they learned from my classes not necessarily the lessons and vocab but how to think, dream and have fun while learning.