As you might already know, I left my old life to become an English teacher in Shanghai during 2017. I was lucky enough to – within a day! – find a school that really cares about the quality of the classes. Up front I’d heard so many horror stories about rip-offs, payments that were never made, gossips in the office and visas that weren’t valid… But none of this happened to me. Either those things don’t happen that often after all, OR I was just very lucky. Either way, it has been an amazing experience. Most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But dealing with 70 tiny humans every single week can sometimes be slightly exhausting (I now understand how my high school teachers got burned out). But, even though it’s not always a bed of roses, I’m surely gonna miss my wonderful colleagues and most of all: the kids!
During this last year, every now and then there would be some special moment where I suddenly realized how every single one of my young learners has his or her very own unique personality. Even though sometimes characteristics would be perceived as tiring, it’s what makes them them.
That little boy who’s always quiet but smiling.
The boy who seems to be in puberty at 7 and keeps grabbing my ass. Once he asked us for the English terms of boobs and dick. We told him maybe in a later class we would cover this. We never did.
The 3-year-old boy who knows everything but pronounces nothing the right way.
The girl with only one wish: to sit next to her friend in class.
The girl who’s always pulling my shirt in search of some attention.
The girl who is incredibly tall for her age, like her mom.
The popular boy in class, never afraid to say something.
The leading girl: whatever she does, every other girl follows.
The boy who keeps answering: ‘I’m 7, I’m old’ instead of ‘I’m 7 years old’.
The little boy who looks and behaves like a miniature adult.
The little boy who gets naughtier every class.
The girl whose only desire, from class 1, is to dance.
The boy who, after 7 months, finally joined us in dancing and playing games.
The boy who likes pink and is therefore always wearing something pink. Pink even became his second name.
The little boy who is still too shy to greet me after 8 months, but nevertheless always is happy.
The boy who, after many months of fighting, finally stopped running out of the classroom every 5 minutes.
The 3-year-old girl who is the perfect student: quiet, but always excited and happy. Except for that one time she forgot her workbook. She quietly cried for 1,5 hours.
The boy who takes us to hell and back when he gets fewer stickers than other children.
The barely 3-year-old girl who’s still a baby and more often than not is sleeping in her chair. Luckily, some of the older girls in class like to play mommy and take care of her.
The older girl that knows every answer to every question.
The boy with too much energy, and never ever sits down.
The girl who always tries to help everyone.
The boy who, after 7 months, can finally survive one class without the comforting presence of his mom.
The girl who’s always wearing the most beautiful dresses.
The girl who – for unknown reasons, lays down on the floor for most of the class.
The little girls whose nerves make her cry every time we have to take a test.
The boy who’s always just mumbling a lot of not understandable things in Chinese.
The little boy who never answers but just smiles at me.
The boy who’s super cute because of his big head. I tried to pick him up once and almost broke my back.
The girl who doesn’t understand much but just sits quietly to watch.
All the girls who just want to dance to Elsa from Frozen.
All the boys who never agree.
Sweethearts; Thank you for the wonderful times we had playing, dancing, laughing, crying, asking and answering, reading, listening, writing, talking, screaming, whispering, learning and discovering.
I’ll miss you!
** For anyone who’s considering to do the same: I would highly recommend it. It’s such an adventurous and rewarding experience. I also highly recommend to contact my lovely colleague and friend Nikoleta (also known as Nina or Nicole). She experienced everything herself and she now specialized in helping others with their own teaching adventure in China. Have a look at her Facebook. Feel free to contact her at any time!