Muchness

My first year teaching in China, I often thought that the most appropriate lines to sum up how I felt about my students were contained in a song by Miley Cyrus:  "You make me laugh/You make me cry/I don't know which side to buy."

That hasn't changed.


They fall asleep in class while we discuss rubrics.

They bring me "something" which turns out to be a bag full of different types of meat, labeled with Chinese and English names.






















They burst into applause after I sing in class.

They drunk call me when I'm in another city, asking when I'm coming back.

They play endless rounds of Uno with us in the office.

They text me, four years after I've been their teacher, to ask for clarification of terms they heard in BBC broadcasts and don't understand.

Or to find out if I want a job in Hangzhou.

Or to send me random updates on their life, their dreams and hopes.

They text me when I'm already in my pajamas to tell me to come outside and see "something," stressing that it has to be at night.  And when I get out there, hand me a bottle that's glowing from burst-open glowstick spilled inside.

They stress about exams, relationships, futures, careers, parents.  They try to stifle the ghosts of their pasts, brushing them off with shrugs and attempted smiles.

They worry about if I am wearing enough clothes to not catch cold, why my hands are always cold, if I like the food, if I miss my family, if I'm going to come back in the fall.

They make me aware, all at once and all the time, how raggedly insufficient and richly blessed I am to be here.  They make me grateful for the love that you all share in for them, and for the One who knows and loves each one of them far better than I ever can.

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