After arriving in Dalian, I quickly found out that in order to be considered hip and cool by my students, I needed to get QQ. What is QQ, you ask? Well, it’s the most popular chatting program in China. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that everyone has a QQ screen name. And people spend a LOT of time on their QQ account. They have it on the cellphones and computers, so pretty much anywhere you go, you can hear the annoying little “beep beep” that announces a new QQ message. For some inexplicable reason, the QQ logo features a penguin in a red scarf…
So, I downloaded the QQ program in English, got a QQ number, and gave myself the original screen name “Teacher Kim.” I thought I would announce my QQ number to my students and when they had questions with homework or wanted to casually chat in English, they could talk to me. But I had no idea what I was getting myself into….
I have nine classes, with approximately 30 students in each class. That’s about 270 students. Let’s say that about half of them tried to add me. They were all trying to add me at the same time, and I had no idea what I was doing, so some of the time I was able to add them back. However, other times I thought I had added students and they mysteriously never showed up on my contacts list…
Last week several students came up and told me that they had tried to add me several times, but I had still not added them. I realized that something was wrong with my QQ, and it was hard to troubleshoot because everyone here uses PCs, and the QQ program for my Mac is slightly different.
Then I decided to ask students in a few of my classes to write down their 10+ digit QQ numbers, and I painstakingly added them one by one. It was torture, but it worked.
Then I ran into another problem… most of their screen names are 1. in Chinese and 2. have nothing to do with their actual name. So, when students talk to me, I’d have no idea who they are! I have to ask them all to tell me their English name and which class they are in so that I can rename them on my contacts list. You can see below that I’m making some progress….
I want my students to feel comfortable approaching me and asking meaningful questions, but so far the only real conversations that I’ve had with students on QQ have been about my age (what?!? you’re only 22??), my favorite NBA team, and the weather. Today a student asked me to help him with a speech that he has to give about Halloween, which was fun. Another student said I was the first American she had ever talked to and that she enjoyed my class.
Hopefully in the end it will be worth all of the headaches and I’ll be able to keep in touch with a few of my favorite students after the semester is over. But right now that stupid little QQ penguin and I are not on very good terms!