I just sat through two hours of students telling me how sad they are that I am leaving…. It’s time for final exams once again here at Anyang Normal University, a time low stress and relaxation. Right.
Actually, most of my hardest work is done. I started exams last week got through the lame-ohs already. This week I test all my good classes, and, if they’re anything like they were today, this week may be a little more trying than I thought.
I did not appreciate before today how hard it is to sit and hear over and over how much everyone will miss me. Nor have I mastered how to properly respond. Is there a proper response? I usually end up giving them an embarrassed smile, some stuttered words about how flattered I am, and assurances (assurances?) that I will miss them too. It’s all … very awkward.
And they mean it too. This isn’t politeness. Or, at least, it’s not just politeness. One of the things I will continue to respect about the Chinese is their ability to hit a level of sincerity I seldom encountered in the United States. They can just lay out their feelings, right to your face. I keep expecting a chuckle, an ironic look, after they say things like, “You are the best teacher I have ever had,” or “I think my life will never be the same after your class,” or “I will always cherish the classes of yours.”
They say things like that! And they mean it!
I thought this week would be a breeze. Aye yai yai … now I’m not so sure….