My Little Chinese Student

I’d sworn and repeated to my friends over and over that I had no intentions of teaching English in China, but somehow I found myself here in Beijing teaching a 5-year-old boy English. I did not seek him out, he found me. He’s my CIEE assistant director’s friend’s teacher’s friend’s son.

Twice a week I squeeze onto a crowded bus and transfer onto another equally crowded bus to the little boy’s house, which is in the same district, Haidian, as my university yet nearly 35 minutes away in the traffic. He and his mom meet me at their bus stop and then we walk together to their apartment. The first time I met him, he was too shy to speak and would only say, “Yes” or “No” to me in English while looking intently at his Chinese checkers set. Now we’ve moved on to talking about drawing and playing Simon Says.  I have to admit, I was so proud when he was able to say “Simon says…. Turn around!” without my help.

He’s not much different than other fidgety small boys I know. He loves drawing, soccer, Thomas the Tank Engine and all forms of transportation. Yes, Thomas the Tank Engine. I was also surprised the blue train has ‘choo-chooed’ his way to China!

His mother is kind and gracious and shares Chinese dumplings with me whenever I go. She cares very much about her son’s education, which is evident in her finding him an English tutor at such a young age. Plus remember, in China, you only get one son (or daughter.) They have also introduced me to this Thai fruit that smells terrible but has a mild pleasant taste.

Though the money, 100RMB, does not quite pay for the trouble it takes to get there, having the experience of working with a Chinese family and getting out of the campus area has added to the my experience here in Beijing. I feel lucky to be able to experience another authentic part of Beijing: its people.

Coming Soon will be an entry or two on my mid-semester trip to Tibet! It’s been difficult to summarize, but hopefully I’ll do a good job of sharing it with you.

Here’s a link to some of my pictures if you’re curious.


— Shea in Beijing