Wendy and Suchun got to meet a few of my current favorite students who are about to graduate. Seeing current and former students together makes me realize how long I've been teaching.

Wendy and Suchun got to meet a few of my current favorite students who are about to graduate. Seeing current and former students together makes me realize how long I’ve been teaching.

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.

I ran into Simon when I went to do some writing in a coffee shop. He graduated a year before and now has a job where he gets to travel to Europe often.

I ran into Simon when I went to do some writing in a coffee shop. He graduated a year before and now has a job where he gets to travel to Europe often.

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.

I got a "what are you doing?" text last one night which led to this BBQ.

I got a “what are you doing?” text last one night which led to this BBQ.

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.

When Fran and Christy came back, Fran picked me up in her fancy car. Not bad.

When Fran and Christy came back, Fran picked me up in her fancy car. Not bad.

 

 

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3 Comments

Fin · March 19, 2014 at 4:05 am

Hello! I am an expat living in Hangzhou who found your site by looking up “mahjong Hangzhou” because I’ve been trying to find some folks to play riichi mahjong with.

Do you still play mahjong?

Good luck in China!

E-Phoenix · April 13, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Is it common for foreign English teachers to develop such a strong bond of friendship with their students? You seem particularly close with your students and they all seem to be very fond and even protective of you, which to me is rather unusual, but heart warming.

Becky · April 17, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Fin- I do but not that much. Believe it or not a lot of my chinese friends don’t know how to play, so I don’t have a lot of people to play it with, haha.

E-Pheonix- yeah, maybe it’s a little weird. I know of a few chinese teachers who are close to their students too, but compared to the foreign teachers most don’t get as involved as I do. It is a blessing as well as a curse (sometimes I get overwhelmed with requests for help and of course it’s on my free time, not getting paid, but I just can’t say no to someone wanting help, ya know?) But I also think it is one of the reasons I like China so much more than most foreigners, and why I feel so comfortable here. There is no way I could feel alone or forgotten when I have these guys as my friends.

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