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September 14, 2006 - Guyuan, China

My Three Dogs

So here I am, Thursday night, fifteen classes into my weekly classload. My lesson plan flows out easily now. Sometimes I catch myself doing it on autopilot. I know what lines get the laughs. What to emphasize. What to leave out.

We go over the rules of class. Number 1. Respect. Student to student. Student to teacher. And their favorite, teacher to student. Number 2. Speak English. I break that rule whenever possible. Number 3. Always ask me questions.

I give out my student only email address. That should get some mileage.

We go over me. Many oooh’s and aaaah’s over 9 feet of snow in Alaska. Disbelief over my moving 5 times.

One of the exercises that we have been doing in class is true/false questions. That is after we practice our hand raising.

“I was born in Beijing.”

The room rings loud with, “FALSE!” Arms up.

“My favorite thing to do is eat.”

Arms shoot up. And down. And up.

“I have one brother and three dogs.”

Giggles. Everybody raises their arms at false. More giggles and whispers of awe when I tell them its true.

This replays for every class. For some reason having a brother and three dogs is funny. Maybe its taboo. I thought that 41 was the unlucky number.

And then a teacher sits in on my class. I run through the true/false bit. A bit later when I am walking around the room checking on writing progress the teacher stops me.

“They think you look too young!”

Too young? To teach? To be here? Come on, I may be young, but I’m no spring chicken.

“You are too young to have three daughters!”

Confusion. And then I realize. Aha!

Dogs. And Daughters.

They sound the same, here. Next class I write both words on the board.

Dogs. Daughters.

  1. Si is the number 4. It also happens to mean death, just in another tone.«

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