Dear Kim…

A few of my students doing an activity in class

It’s been great seeing my students again. As one of the first “back to school” assignments, I gave my writing students the open-ended task of writing me a letter about anything. The trick was that they had to write it all in ten minutes, which means that the letters I received captured the essence of the thoughts that go through my students’ heads. Their stream of consciousness is at times hilarious and at times very raw and emotional. Sometimes I just don’t know how to respond. Read the following excerpts for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

“Every winter vacation I always get fatter. After returning DUT many classmates always laugh at me. Maybe they are just joking. But I also feel down about that. So this vacation I was determined to keep the delicious food away however tasty it was. I drived me to do some sports like dancing. However, nothing does work. Now I am still fatter. I can do nothing with that. It is really strange. How do you keep your charming shape? Could you give me some useful suggestions? I’ll appreciate it.”

“This vacation I also get to know more complex things about getting old. My grandmother fell sick in bed. I often went to see her. Her mind is not very clear. But I can see the brightness in her eyes when she said something in the past. She alway retold me the scene in my kindergarten. She is painful, but excited sometime.”

“Oh, I think I have too much thing to share with you. First, let me talk about the huge trouble of my uncle. He hit a young man when driving, without a driving licence. More to blame, he was drunk. That drove my parents headache. Now the young poor man has died unfortunately. We all prayed for him.”

“Another great thing is that I’m 20 years old already. The feeling is so strange to me. It’s like that I ‘m an adult now but I feel myself still being a child. I have to think about many things that I don’t have to care before. For example, future, career, love thing ~. I watched a lot of friends who meet their love or break with others (makes them crying). I really wonder what the doomed guy for my destiny would be like?”

“It had been half a year that I hadn’t been at home. When I met my relatives, I couldn’t express how happy and excited I was, especially when I saw my little sister who I missed most. She is taller than before. During the time at home, my mother cooked my favorite food for me every meal of every day. I missed the smell of my hometown. Family is so warm. Parents are so concerned with me. That makes me felt happy.”

“When I was planning to come back, I thought my hometown should give me some impression. So I called a girl to see some beautiful lights which are made by hands. They are near the river which I think is a good place to spend the time. But she refused me. She said that she would went there with another girl. So I went there alone in the evening. But when I got there, I found she was with a boy who I knew. I was a little sad though she is not my girlfriend. The boy saw me and asked me to go with them but I didn’t. It wasn’t a good trip.”

“Long time no see! I miss you a lot, and I see you. You didn’t change a little, especially the hair style.”

“I really like your style of life, doing something you really like, spending all your money on traveling, travel around the world. It seems that a lot of Americans do that…But it’s very hard for Chinese to do that, when we graduate, most of us want to find a job that can we do forever, and then save a lot of money, to repay our parents, to pay for the house we have to buy, which is way too expensive in China. And then get married, have kids, some parents will be really angrey if you don’t have kids, that so traditionally, we have a lot of pressures come from our parents. After having a kid, we have to earn much more money to feed the kid, the education of the kid is also way too expensive in China. I don’t like this kind of life!!! I want to be free in the future, I want to do something that I really like and don’t even care how much money I earn! Then spend all of them to do the things I like. It will be really fun if I take a shower in a river, that’s amazing. But in China, that’s very hard. So I want to go abroad, to search the kind of life I like most, to light the pressure that I have.” Note: I told my students how I did a three day trek in Thailand where we had to bathe in a river.

“I have known you traveled to these countries this vacation, that make me thought up our English teacher in year one. She also went to Tailand, when we saw her after the vocation, we found her skin turned a little black. So I think you did well to protect you skin.”

“I almost forget to tell you I cooked my first pizza. It’s really delicious because I put a lot of cheese.”

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5 thoughts on “Dear Kim…

  1. Wow. What raw and honest writing! Each one is a story unto itself. They must feel amazingly comfortable with you to be so honest in 10 minutes!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Cathy,
    Thanks for the comment! It never ceases to amaze me how forthcoming my students can be about (what Americans would consider) very personal information. Say hello to Abby and Jake for me.

  3. Great activity, I’ll be doing that for a free topic lesson I have in a few weeks.

    I feel for the Student who hates the prospect of working to repay his family then raise a child because he “has to”. Maybe you should show him some pics of the roller skating guy I saw.

  4. Kim, this is a great entry and some of what your students wrote really struck a chord in me, particularly the one who wants to escape the vicious cycle of a “prescribed” Chinese life. This are a beautiful collection of raw thoughts. It’s great that you serve as an outlet for them to share these things; I think your statement that some Chinese people like to share very personal things really depends on the person they’re sharing it to. It seems like these students feel that they won’t lose face (or their family’s face) with you, so they can tell you all this. 🙂

  5. Kimber, the notes from your students was very moving. We are so lucky in our culture. Maybe I appreciate it all the more, the older I get.

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