I’ve written about some funny things my students have said recently, but what about my teacher? Almost everyday I take Chinese class and some funny stuff goes down in class, albeit not intentional at times.
You see, my teacher is as traditional as they come. He thinks women shouldn’t be bosses, or do things like business. He is shocked as all get-out when he hears that students are openly gay, and won’t interfere when he overhears a neighbor beating his wife because it is “family business” and not his business.
Your probably imagining some old guy, in a tattered suit that has been teaching Chinese forever. But nope, my teacher is young, younger than me, and it’s his first year at my university. He wears normal, modern clothes, has a super awesome, cheery/funny wife (who was my teacher last semester) who he just married last year. He has traveled and even lived in other countries so I am continually shocked at his pretty ignorant remarks.
Such as? I hear you wondering. Well, the other day we were talking about opium of all things. He said 100 years ago, Chinese people would lie on couches, like zombies, smoking opium. Then he said that today Chinese people still lie down, zombie-like, only now its because of their phones.
“The opium was England’s fault,” he said. “The cell phones are America’s fault.”
I, of course, immediately protested. “Don’t blame America!” I said. “We don’t invent all the cell phones.”
“Well, you invented Apple,” he said laughing because he knew it was funny.
I protested again in todays class and surprised him. Why doth I protest?
Well, we were talking about a new vocabulary word, 豁达, huoda, which means like, open, positive, optimistic kinda person. Then he asked us what was the opposite and it was 小气, xiaoqi, which means like stingy, miserly, etc.
That was good and fine until he said, “Guys are huoda while girls are xiaoqi.” Which made my jaw drop open and I protested. He seemed genuinely surprised that I disagreed. So he asked around. That class had 2 guys and 3 girls in it. He asked a girl, and she of course said no. Then he asked one of the guys. And asked him in kinda a dude-way like, “bro, I’m right, right?” But my classmate wisely refused to answer. The other girl said that it wasn’t a boy/girl thing or china/western but a personality thing.
Then he told us how moms will tell their male children to be more optimistic when they meet troubles and girls they’ll just let pout or whatever and that’s where the gender imbalance came from.
One student kinda misunderstood the meaning and asked if huoada was a negative word. “No, it’s a positive one,” my teacher said.
“So xiaoqi is a negative meaning?” To this he also answered no.
“No, it just is…like, if a girl gets mad you just say, whatever, she’s a girl so it’s okay.”
I’m still protesting on a kinda feminist rant (well, as much as I can rant with my poor vocab) and I say, “It does have a negative meaning!”
And he said, “Well, if you use it when referring to a guy, then yeah. But a girl, not negative just….” he searched for a moment to find the right word. “…normal.”
I really like my teacher but sometimes I just gotta wonder. What century is he living in?
Writer. Traveler. Tea Drinker.Writer. Traveler. Tea Drinker. Doing all three in China
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