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The Luckiest Foreigner in China

Popularity 9Viewed 3003 times 2015-6-1 21:06 |Personal category:Education|System category:Life| China

I'm either the luckiest foreigner in China or, I've done something right along the path of my life to be as blessed as I am. Let me tell you why.

Last Saturday night, I was exhausted from having taught 9 classes that day. I call Saturday, 'Marathon' day because we work so hard with so many classes. But, make no mistake about this, I love doing it. I think I have the most amazing job in the world. Especially when those divine winks seem to come my way. One of those came on Saturday night.

A lady called during one of the afternoon classes and Lily, my primary assistant, talked with her. She asked if she could bring her daughter to me to assess her English level. We offer assessments for free to anyone who wants to set a time up with us and come. Even if they don't join our classes, we let them come.

We finished our last class at 7 p.m. None of us had eaten dinner. We were tired and hungry.

Sunny, a 14 year old student showed up with her parents. They got here about 20 minutes early which was perfectly o.k. with us. We didn't have to wait on a late arrival. Lily began the written assessment while the parents reviewed the Parental Assessment. She finished in about 18 minutes. Then, I began the spoken (oral) exam with her and quickly assumed she had lived and/or studied in the USA. She had nearly perfect spoken English with a USA accent.  My assumption proved wrong. She'd never been out of China. I was shocked. She was as fluent as any of the several hundred students I'd ever interviewed in past years here. 

I asked the parents what they saw as the primary problem with her English. It wasn't obvious to me. They said that her scores don't reflect her spoken ability. Usually, the problem is the opposite. Students will do well on written exams, but score poorly on oral exams. Sunny is the opposite of that.

As I continued to talk to her, I asked her, "Are you a musician?" She was a bit surprised that I knew this. She said, "Yes." I said, "Can you play a lot of instruments?" Again, shocked, she said, "I can play any instrument I pick up." I said, "I'm guessing that you don't read music, right?" Again, shocked, she said, "No. I can't." I said, "Do you like to read or write?" She said, "I love doing both." I said, "You love fiction, right? You don't care much for non-fiction. Am I right?" She said, "Yes." I said, "What about math? I bet math, physics and chemistry are boring to you." Again, she said, "How do you know these things?"

Now, I'm no genius and I certain don't claim to have any spiritual or supernatural powers or skills. But, I've been around for a while and I did own my own school of several hundred students in Texas for 15 years. I've been around education and I stay abreast of learning styles, teaching methods and personal assessments. I knew these things about her because she perfectly fit the profile of a right-brained dominant person.  She is creative and imaginative. In fact, she is so right-brained dominant that she doesn't see the use of linear or logical processes. 

On the other hand, her right brain is developed to what I'm guessing would be a savant or genius level.

My exhaustion dissipated fast. I felt that I was in an honored place to come across such a student as Sunny. I wasn't even sure how I could help her with my classes. I could only offer her my oral English class for middle school students. My most advanced class for middle school students meets at 2 p.m. on Saturday. She had a conflict with that. I really didn't have any other suggestions even though I would be honored to have such a student.

I come across the most amazing people. Especially students here in Zhengzhou. I don't know how these incredible individuals end up at my door. If went out looking for them, I don't think I'd find even one. I add her to the list of students like 15 year old Victoria who was my student for a year and a half and is now at Princeton University in the USA. Or Dr. Ellen, who took private lessons from me for over a year and ended up getting several certifications at Harvard. So many others that there's no time to tell about them all. I really do think that I must be the luckiest foreigner in China.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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MichaelM

Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.

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