English Corner

In seduction, one of the natural stages is called “qualification.” It’s after your original attraction to the other person, where you start to feel that they like you for the right reasons. You need to get through this to start really feeling comfortable with someone. The opposite of properly qualifying is staring at a girl’s tits and nodding at whatever she’s saying as you try to stop your hands from grabbing at her goodies. Most girls have been in the situation where they feel like the guy has completely failed to qualify his desires beyond something incredibly shallow.

That’s kind of how I feel in China–everyone just wants my goodies.

There are these events called “English Corners” where people who want to learn English hang out with us foreigners and just talk. I’ve been to a few now, and it’s a lot of fun. During the day I’ll walk around and feel like an outcast since I can’t really talk to anyone, except for the people who come up to me and say “good morning” at all times of the day, and then just repeat it when I try to respond. I’ve stopped saying ni2 hao3 because I now realize how retarded I must look. I still look stupid as I point at things on the menu and mimic eating them, but at least I’m not saying “you good” over and over to them.

Anyway.

English Corner is fun because I actually get a sense of the culture. I found out that the minimum wage for students is 30 RMB/day, which is the equivalent of less than $5 CAD. A student’s average salary is less than $10 CAD/day. That’s not indicative of wages in general, but it lets you understand the culture a bit more. Think of it this way: it’s almost impossible for Chinese students to pay their own tuition. They can’t afford their own rent. They can’t even buy their own food. I was asked if I thought Canadians were more independent than Chinese people, and I really don’t want to give a sweeping answer to that. But I can guarantee that something is lost if you have to rely on someone else until you’re out of University.

That’s a lesson that I think a lot of Canadians should learn too: we make $10/hour minimum but a lot of our University students still rely on massive amounts of debt and parents to get them through school instead of taking advantage of all of the independence we’re offered by working jobs, gaining experience and living on our own.

The only problem with English Corner and being a foreigner in China in general is that everyone loves you unconditionally. It’s like I have the nicest pair of tits in the world and everyone wants to play with them[1]. Apparently most foreigners get an instant metaphorical boob job when they get into China. I must have a million numbers that I don’t know what to do with. I used to say, much to my sister’s chagrin and not entirely seriously, that all girls want me and all guys want to be me. In China, this is significantly more true.

I was watching one of my dad’s classes[2]. There were a dozen guys and one beautiful girl dressed to the nines. At the break another girl knocked at the door and the pretty girl met her and practically dragged her over to me. The new girl translated.

“Excuse me, my friend told me that a handsome English teacher was here.” The pretty girl already had her phone out, in front of all of the guys there and completely oblivious to the fact that if she needs a translator just to get my number, there’s no way she’ll be able to carry a conversation with me.

I love the people and the culture so far, but I hope I can learn enough Mandarin to make being a celebrity worth-while–that is, I’d like to actually get to know the people instead of letting them struggle with their English. The average English level lets them ask me things like what I do or if I like Chinese food (yes, yes I do).

Next time I’ll tell you about my night out in Changsha.

Enjoy irresponsibly.

[1] I seem to have even more celebrity than other foreigners. I have some thoughts on why this is, but I had a table of a dozen people stay and chat hours after English Corner ended while everyone else trickled away. I think it has to do with the fact that I actually care about learning about the culture instead of just steamrolling it with Western culture. I feel so ashamed every time a foreigner complains that Chinese people have no idea what you’re saying (implying they must be retarded) and starts speaking baby English at them (want go to food!) like that will help. No, stupid, you’re the one that doesn’t know THEIR language or THEIR culture. I sat next to a nice Chinese lady for the flight from Newark to Beijing. In Newark, her inability to speak English made her inadequately educated. When we crossed over into China, I was the one who was retarded.

[2] He’s teaching English at Hunan University.

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