Little Angels American Bound

I could get used to this!

Four hours of teaching, 8 AM to 11:50, 10 minute breaks every hour, so really 200 minutes of teaching. Only two classes of about 25 students each today. I spent a few hours planning after, but it was so much more enjoyable and efficient planning after class, instead of before classes and meetings, fighting for a photocopier. With my own desk! And computer!

My students are sweet so far, too – all sitting ready at the bell, excellent English though directions are still tricky. I had them do a warm-up activity, tell me what their aspirations are and why they’re interested in going to the US (I’m in the US-bound program). One of my classes even stood up to deliver their beautifully articulated answers!

Why are these guys interested in going to the US? Well, according to the administrators, the plan for upper-middle class Chinese students is, first, to ace the high school exit exams to get into a good Chinese university. If they don’t score high enough, the next option is to get into a university abroad. It seems backward to me – how much more difficult to have to learn content in another language, in another country.

However, the students have much more inspiring reason for going to American (maybe to please me, their teacher). They talked about the environment, by which they seem to mean natural environment, in addition to the people from diverse cultures that they are eager to meet in our melting pot (should I warn them)? They say that the US has the best education system (I smile and tell them I’m here because I heard China has the best education system ).

They have deeper reasons, too, beyond the platitudes. They talked about different learning styles, that they know Americans are taught to be more creative and learn in a different way. They talk about freedom – their words – and how they think there are more options to learn different things in the US. And, of course, they talk about beautiful places, creature comforts, entertainment, technology, and the NBA.

Now, I know I’m Amero-centric. I love my country. And I know Chinese students aim to please their teachers, and will respond to questions accordingly. But they do see a side to China I’m sure I’m not privy to – all I know is Nanjing, and they are from all over Jiangsu Provice. It makes me curious to know what they’ve seen.

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6 thoughts on “Little Angels American Bound

  1. America has far more available university spots than China — therefore, if they don’t get into some really prestigious place like Beijing Da, they’ll try for a UMass Boston or a Salem State (bot too prestigious, but it is s college and it does improve and demonstrate their English ability).

    As for “warning” them about the melting pot, what exactly do you mean? Virtually every city in the US is loaded with immigrants from all over the Earth (not so in China — even Cleveland would be considered diverse by the standards of 99% of China), and if you are implying that various immigrant groups don’t get along, any friction pales in comparison to, say, the way Uighurs and Chinese people get along in Xinjiang in NW China (which includes a low-level armed Uighur insurgency among other things).

    So I am really curious: just what exactly about the American melting pot do you feel you could warn them about?

  2. I am way behind in your blogs! i am glad that you are enjoying teaching. Sounds fun and you have always been very passionate about what you do. I will send a real email soon. Things are shakin’ over here in Rotterdam 🙂 Love you guys!

  3. What do I mean by the Melting Pot? So many things! In the US, we’re all about integration – within one generation, people can lose the cultures and language of their parents. While many people mourn this loss of culture, integration isn’t necessarily a completely bad thing – an NPR story talked about how places that are more integrative vs. mutlicultural (melting pot vs. mosaic) have less terrorism and more community because people buy into the system, they feel American (NPR compared the US to England and France).

    But I also mean that many Americans can be rude and impatient with people who don’t speak fluent English, while, as foreigners, we’ve only been met with kindness when we try to speak our few words of garbled Mandarin. I know that it is nothing compared to what is happening in TB (please excuse the abbreviation, trying to avoid censorship) and it’s also nothing compared to what happened in America’s past. But my students, like all teenagers, are starry-eyed idealists. But then, that’s why I like teaching this age group – I’ll let them be idealists a little longer.

  4. Chinese people are patient with Americans in their country because their relative numbers are extremely small, and 99.9% are either tourists or professionals on temporary visas. Comparing their patience with you and Matt to Americans’ patience with non English-speaking foreigners is not valid. A valid comparison would be to find out how much patience they (Mandarin speakers) have with uneducated economic migrants from China’s ethnic minorities who do not speak Chinese. You also need to confine your comparison to areas inundated with non Chinese- speaking economic migrants to the same degree that places in the US are inundated with non English-speakers.

    I speak not of TB, but of the region to the north (which no one cares about because they are Muslim, and do not have a walking-talking Chinese restaurant Buddha statue to plead their case). But the fact of the matter is that even if you did tell them the facts about America, they would still have much to be starry-eyed about compared to where they are. My friend Yun Xi has never looked back back to China, and tells me virtually every time I talk to him how thankful he is not to have to raise his children there.

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