Should I be hurt that I was told I wasn’t American enough to teach English? I mean, I’m certainly cute enough. . .
My friend who is a teacher at CMU (Chiang Mai University) passed along a student’s information to me since she wasn’t able to take on any more tutoring. After she made the introductions via email, I decided I would wait for her to contact me. After, of course, I had given her my phone number.
Then when I was having brunch with another friend we talked about said student. And she shared the conversation she had just had. Did I mention how small Chiang Mai is? Cause it is *this* small. But not as small as Cuenca was, but anyway, where was I?
My friend: I hear you are going to be learning English with my friend Lani!
Her: Yeah, but I think she is not American enough!
My friend: What?! You need to meet her! She’s American enough!
It’s like a bad acid trip. Not that I’ve ever dropped, but I remember watching a guy being carried away on a stretcher in college and thinking, that looks really f’ed up. Look, I’m not saying stereotypes are like a bad trip, but they don’t feel too good, okay?
I was just getting into the rhythm of teaching and I can’t believe this, but I’m 1, 2? months away from being here for a year. A year. I can’t remember the last time I was somewhere (the same place) that long. I know this because I have to do some professional development stuff at school, and I need to do it before my first year is up.
But that’s the down beat to life, isn’t it? I felt like I got a heavy dosage of “you can’t teach English because of the way you look” kind of thing when I first arrived, and then when I returned, all of that non-sense faded away. In fact, I felt extra special when I was in the classroom because here I was being a role model for my students.
I feel loved by them and still do. I suppose the difference is my kids are forced to work with me on a regular basis because their parents told them so. Any first impressions or cultural beliefs are allowed to dance around the room, grow tired, take a nap and get up again (the impressions, not the kids).
My Thai tutor told me that he fell in love with his first English teacher (well – you know what I mean) and that fed his delightful appetite for the language. And I certainly think a positive experience in the classroom will create a love for a particular school subject. It’s really amazing (and scary) how a teacher can turn someone in or out this way.
Now, I remember when the question, If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? was floating by and my friend Byron caught it and said, Honesty. Me and my girlfriend thought, Whoa. Can you imagine? Everyone had to be honest? Brutal. I don’t think we could handle it. I don’t know if I could. Oh, never mind I could – let me introduce you to the men in my life. . .
Honesty is funny thing, a lovely thing, and a wicked thing. The student in question, no doubt was being honest. I’m not American enough. For you.