Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Today was the last day of the camp’s first session. I have 9 students staying for another term, but most kids had to say their goodbyes. They all wanted me to sign their books and give them my e-mail and phone number. They’re such cute little buggers. I’ll miss them. (see picture) Little Martin had me sign his SISU camp hat. I told one of the Chinese TAs for Level 3 that now he’s ready to be a father. He pretty much looked like a new father by the end of camp—disheveled hair, unbelievably exhausted eyes, and an overall slump to the shoulders and shuffle of the feet as though the very act of moving requires too much energy.
After our short class, Rachel and I scooted off with Parker, another foreign teacher, to see more of the city. Parker’s from Nashville, TN, originally, and has been in Shanghai for the past two years. He showed us around his neighborhood, which is in the French Concession, an area that is already becoming a favorite of mine, and then herded us east, stopping at giant shopping malls, a French pastry shop, and a smoothie joint along the way. These malls were the ritzy ones, with stores such as Gucci, Armani, Dior, etc. Window shopping for us. Along the way throughout the neighborhoods and the malls, Parker dispensed as much knowledge as I’ve gained in multiple history and current events classes. The kid has intricate understanding of China, Chinese culture, the new Lama, who just might put his stamp of approval on the Olympics, Buddhist traditions, Thailand, Tibet, you name it. He came here and began working for an American real-estate company, then quit and began traveling around everywhere a month ago (he traveled Indonesia by himself), and now he’s enrolled in school for Chinese language and is freelance teaching. Needless to say, he was a well-qualified tour guide and a great conversationalist. Rachel and I were more than a little impressed.
Then we headed toward a university on the west side of town where one of Rachel’s friends is doing a summer-intensive language course. We popped out of the metro stop at a park near the school and began scrutinizing our map, as always. Then we hear a tiny voice saying, “Can I help you?” We looked up to meet a young Chinese woman who offered us a beautiful smile and an escort to the park. She is studying English and was excited to meet some American girls with whom she could practice speaking. At one point she told us we were beautiful and exclaimed, “You’re not fat!” To which we laughed and laughed. America the Obese. The world knows of our gluttony.
Lily was her name, and she was entirely generous with her time. She wants to take us out around the town, and we vowed to meet up later. How sweet. I hope for the chance to show kindness to a foreigner in America one day.