Thursday, August 28, 2008

From Starbucks.

I forget that being a teacher is more than just educating people in a classroom (as if that weren't enough). Although I never used my teachers for this purpose, another whole facet of being an ejimicator is supporting a student's personal life.

Kevin, a former student of mine, needed such help today. I asked him how he was while we were exiting school this afternoon, and he answered honestly: not well. He studies constantly like most students, saving little time for relaxation. He tearfully told me about how he always feels stressed about getting a high enough score on the IELTS exam to move to Australia. He thinks there are no career opportunities for him in china because he doesn't have a college degree.

While I think he's a great student and will certainly emigrate soon, I have to wonder if he, like so many other students, is overestimating the amount of available opportunities abroad. These students think that life "in the West" is somehow so much more wonderful than in China.

Just like, as I discussed with my students in another class, the Chinese government hoped to only display positive traits of Chinese culture at the Olympics, going so far as to modify its citizen's behaviors, many impending emigrants choose to only focus on the Land of Opportunities, skipping chapters in their travel guides about the Valley of Poverty, the River of Crime, the Desert of Inaccessible Transportation, and Mount Racism.

I worry about the naïveté most of my students suffer from. What will they do when their expectations fall so dangerously short of reality?

* * * * * *

In other news, I just saw a woman on an electric scooter. This is not noteworthy, of course, except that her 50 pound golden retriever was perched (this really is the best word for it) on the foot rest, as she weaved through traffic.

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