Zhongguoren Incognito, Part 608353987

For Chinese kids, summer means….more school!

Our schools offer heavier course loads, and we’re all teaching twice as many classes, days as well as nights. The kids are a little more  hyper, and the teachers are a little more cranky.

I was half asleep, kimchi squatting in the hallway after my morning classes, waiting for a storage closet to open up so I could change clothes for lunch, when a kid from my reading academy the day before ran by to say hey.

Henry (age 7ish) was dissatisfied with whatever I was saying to him.

“Shuo Zhongwen!”he demands. (Speak Chinese!)

I give him my best oh-shucks “I don’t speak Chinese!”

“Yes you can!” he insists. “Nihao! Nihao!’

“What’s that? I don’t understand,” I say.

This is killing Henry.

“Ni shi Zhongguoren!  NI SHI ZHONGGUOREN!” he shouts, swinging my arms around. (You’re Chinese!)

“NO I’M NOT! I’m from America! USA!” (I know how to explain in Chinese, but I’m so accustomed to not speaking Chinese to the kids for educational purposes, also it’s not like he would’ve believed me, also I was amused.)

This is too much for Henry, who decides to widen his research pool. He runs around, collects some friends and colleagues, asks them in Chinese, “she’s Chinese right?”

The kids (these ones don’t know me, but it’s not like my kids ever understand my nationality/ethnicity anyways) take a good look at me, and give Henry their educated opinions,  yep she must be fucking with you because she’s definitely Chinese (paraphrased).

This goes back and forth, on and on for a good ten minutes -no joke, I have no idea who was locked in the storage closet all this time but they must have been cooking meth or giving birth or something- and  we’ve caused so much noise at this point that a member of the sales staff comes to investigate. She explains to Henry that I have in fact been speaking the truth.

“OH I TOLD YOU!” and then I’m off to lunch, having given up on the storage closet as a changing room.

Those kids probably still think I’m a liar though.



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