Monday, February 9

Student Visiting.

In 2008, as I was catching the bus back to the university campus in Shaoxing, China, where I had been teaching English, a young man came and sat next to me, introduced himself and asked me if I was an English teacher at the university where he was studying.  When I told him I was, we chatted for the rest of the journey and he walked with me (carrying my shopping like a lovely well mannered young gentleman) to my apartment.  Somehow the friendship was sealed that day.

Over the next few months we met up regularly.  He would come to my apartment and discuss the challenges he was having as a student, and I came perhaps like his second mother - or at least someone to confide in, and along the way help him with his English.  He was not studying English like the many other students, and was doing a business course, but he had some interesting extra curricular activities which perhaps made him the envy of his peers.  Some mornings he would get up around 4 am and ride his bike to a radio station where he ran a program, and he also volunteered for many duties within the campus.  He also became a member of the Chinese Communist Party.  He had some friends, but his many duties kept him a little on the outside of his peer group, and sometimes he felt isolated.

He attended a special English group that I ran in one of the cafes on campus, and as my year of teaching went on, our friendship remained.

The following year I was teaching in South Korea, but in 2010 I returned to the university in Shaoxing.  On this occasion I travelled with two other teachers via Hong Kong and Hangzhou, and when I entered the arrival hall at Hangzhou, this lovely man came running towards me with arms outstretched to welcome me back.

He told a funny story of how he had been called to the "boss's office" - and thinking he had done something wrong was a little unnerved, but he had been called in to be told that his friend Dianna (me) was returning to the campus.  He was very excited (and no doubt relieved that he had not been in trouble.)

We had a lot of fun during the semester - especially on some of the trips that foreign teachers were taken.  He and other staff members often came with is and on one occasion there was quite a mix up in the travel arrangements.  They had not booked enough rooms/beds for all of us, and he had to sleep in the same bed as the boss of his department - he was then an employee in that department and his boss was a 50 something female.

He confided in me after dinner - and we discussed his dilemma - he had no choice, and we worked out that he could go to the room latish, when the lady concerned would be asleep and then get into the bed, and keep on 'his' side of the bed.

The next morning very early there was knocking on my door, it was him.  He was quite distressed!  the lady had snored loudly all night and he had got little sleep.  I told him that one day he could use the story in some way, as it really was hilariously funny.  He reluctantly agreed with me, but some short time later came to me beaming with smiles as he had managed to get mileage out of the story on more than one occasion!!!

When my contract was over, I was told that the university did not intend to arrange transport for me from the university to the airport in Hangzhou (as was required by my contract), but it unfazed me as I knew that I could easily get to the airport on public transport.

On the morning I was to go - and as I was about to exit my apartment to go by taxi, then bus, this young man appeared.  He was angry that the university had chosen not to fulfil their obligation to me and the contract and had arranged for the President's chauffeur to take me in the university car, to the airport.  He came as well to ensure I arrived safely at the airport!!!

Then last year I returned to the university for a visit - and again we spent time together and once more I invited him to visit me in Australia.  He took me to dinner, he took me on a sunset cruise around the canals of the city, and again arranged transport when I departed.

He is due to arrive in Australia this evening and will be spending a week with me.  He is a lovely young man and I hope to treat him as well, or better than the wonderful hospitality I received.

In Shanghai

In Shanghai


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