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Published: March 19th 2007
I believe that after three classes of teaching english to children I can classify myself as an English Teacher. A big title. It comes with a lot of responsibility. I am responsible for the future of these children. Their lives depend on my ability. Well, I wouldn’t carry it that far.
I think my first day is worth mentioning though. I got up very early, for me, in the morning because I was determined to take the bus to my destination. I left my apartment at 8 o’clock, and walked to the end of Lan Qing Jie, eyes open, for the Bus 31 stop. I kept walking along Huang He Lu. No bus 31. It was one of the haziest days Dalian has had since I arrived, but I was definitely not overlooking a Bus 31. I did have time to take some pictures though.
I walked through the fruit markets, passed several bus stations, and after 45 minutes with 10 minutes to being late, I decided to suck it up and get for a taxi. So I did a turnaround and realized I was in a place where I would be very lucky to find a taxi. I
kept walking, balanced on the curb of the road with my hand in the air. Eight minutes later, I was lucky and was at my destination by 8:55 for a 9:00 am class. Kids aged from 2 to 3 years old marched through the door and began taking their shoes off so they could sit on the floor mat. They sprawled out in a line in front of me. I went with the lesson that was given to me. We learn fruits! Fruits! Look a pear! What is this? It is an apple! Goodbye apple! What is this? It is a watermelon!
The classes each last 25 minutes (4 classes in a row), with each class a little older, a little wiser. My third class, age average four years old, was going over fruits too. I had slides on the board for this one. I was as surprised as the children by each one. Look a “goofy pear”! It has a face! It has eyes, a nose, and a mustache! It is a goofy pear! The slides began to get a little strange... Look it is a....ummm...a banana peel! But instead of a banana, it is a....really scary looking snake!
I turned to look at the next slide. My mouth drops open speechless and I look over at Duke, who’s running the slides. He finds this one very funny and gives me an encouraging nod. I look at the children, all staring at me with their wide eyes, soaking in everything in front of them. I turn again to look at the slide, at the picture of a banana. The banana has X’s on its eyes and a noose tied around its “neck”. It hangs from the rope, completely lifeless. I look back and try to avoid their eyes, try to avoid the pain. “Banana suicide!” I manage to choke through my tears. I lead the children in their final “Goodbye banana!” to the fruit that never had a chance at life.
To think, that a picture of innocence, the kids that seem to smile and love endlessly, the ones who are never ashamed of their curiosities, never ashamed to ask questions, those who can laugh at the littlest things like a pear with a face; no one would ever believe the faded shadows of suffering that accompanies them. Ah, the inhumanity! Death! Suicide! All at the expense of a
fruit with which we associate with sunny things and funny things, like palm trees and monkeys. So, as I tried to chase away these dark shadows with an American impression of a monkey, I learned something that day.... That Chinese children have their own impression of a monkey. It is a stance that represents the reign of the monkey king. I did not take a photo of this stance and would only cause confusion in trying to describe the monkey position. Therefore, I will keep it as a secret, out of respect for the Monkey King. Perhaps a lucky person will have a share in this ancient secret one day. If they get a day...death...suicide...
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