I’ve mentioned one of my former students Wendy several times on this blog. She is responsible for one of the best surprises I’ve ever helped pull off, and she’s even been to my hometown in America.
She loves surprises, and tricking people and despite knowing that, she finally got me.
The other day she contacted me on weixin and asked what I was doing. Every time I get a text saying “what are you doing?” from a former student it is always followed by “I’m back at school! Let’s hang out!”
So I texted back saying, “Uh-oh, is this one of those ‘I’m at school,’ surprises?”
She said no. She was home bored and just wondering. I said okay, and believed her. She told me her grandma was coming to her house soon, bringing some special tea and would I like some? I of course said yes and Wendy asked for my address.
I told her to just send it via express mail to the schools general address and I’ll pick it up (different companies have different drop off areas but now that I am a master Taobao shopper I know all the areas and companies.)
She said that a student, the assistant of Fairy, one her friends and one of my other former students, would be coming back to school the following day and could bring it to my house directly. “Door to door,” Wendy wrote.
Now, knowing Wendy I should have been suspicious. But I wasn’t because actually one of my students had recently told me that she interviewed to be an assistant for Fairy but didn’t have the time for the job. So hearing that another one of my students had gotten the job wasn’t surprising. “Is Fairy’s assistant one of my students?” I asked. Wendy said yes, but she didn’t know the girls english name.
So I told Wendy my address and wondered who the student was. “Guess I’ll find out tomorrow,” I said.
“She’s very pretty,” Wendy said.
So even when I heard a knock at my door I still wasn’t thinking about Wendy. Until I opened the door and saw Suchun, one of Wendy’s classmates standing there giggling like crazy. I started laughing, looked behind the door and there was Wendy. “Surprise!”
She tricked me. (“Wait,” I said later. “Does this mean I’m not getting any tea?” she laughed.)
This illustrates a bigger picture for me. There isn’t a month that goes by without receiving a “what are you doing?” text from a former student. Sometimes several times a month. Some by friends, like Wendy, who I chat with and see regularly. But sometimes by students I haven’t seen in years.
You see, most students come back to school eventually. They need things like a transcript, or a copy of a certificate or they just come back to relive memories. And I tend to get a call at some point and we hang out and catch up. It’s one of the best benefits of being at the same school for such a long time.
But I’ve decided I’ll change schools, and cities, next year so no more surprise visits. It’s a shame because even though these visits don’t come with a lot of warning (and I am almost always in the middle of something when the former students texts me), I still am really happy. I am finally seeing the joy of teaching and watching my students grow up from kids to adults. But wherever I am, my door will always be open to them.
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