My Chinese teacher passed away on the 26th of March and it shook me more than I could have ever imagined. Life can be cruel…
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My Chinese teacher passed away on the 26th of March and it shook me more than I could have ever imagined. Life can be cruel but its fickleness cuts the most. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything here, I'll tell the truth of what I still remember, of the memories of Xing Laoshi and how much of an impact she made.
The first Chinese class I walked into was a big joke. It was the introductory level 1 beginner's class so you would expect something easy. I remember walking in a bit scared and excited and finding a seat in a corner at the end of the class. I tried focusing because I wasn't really getting anything from what the Chinese teacher was saying.
This time I heard her clearly, she was spitting strings of sentences I didn't understand which made me curse on my breath, the nerve of these people!!! I knew from listening in more that she didn't understand English nor did she speak the language so a miracle was what it was going to take to be able to learn.
Her hair caught my attention shortly after I gave up on the class. I still remember how it squished left and right during her morning jogs. Yes, Xing Laoshi liked jogging or maybe it was a Chinese thing. she would walk-jog around the 5-kilometre distance to school. I knew it was five kilometres because she asked me once if I knew the distance I jogged and I said no but she knew because she was meticulous like that, keeping random information like that meant a lot to her.
Xing Laoshi wasn't someone I would describe as nice, she didn't particularly care for pleasantries but she would worry each time a serious student skipped a class or didn't submit an assignment. She somehow knew how to detect effort, especially the struggling kind and always went out of her way to encourage it. It wasn't about getting it right, for her she just wanted you to make an attempt. I wasn't the type to participate in class back then however, I found myself answering a few of her questions and that has stayed with me. Xing Laoshi did that for me.
One of my fondest memories of her was towards the tail end of our studies. We were still learning new level 5 HSK words and included in the list for that day was 糊涂 which translates to confused. She has always liked using real-world examples so as she stood trying to think of one, she made an unclear sentence and told us that this particular word was even confusing her. The whole class erupted into fits of laughter and that became our example sentence for that word. I still remember that sentence like I remember her laughter that day.
I may never be able to exhaust my memories of Xing Laoshi, she lived each moment of her life up until death with so much relish and satisfaction. She wasn't just a teacher, she became a sort of Mom for my classmates who needed it. She laughed at herself the most and was a disciplinarian to the core. I still wonder how she danced with us and somehow managed to get us to turn in assignments on time. I guess we all loved her somehow, in bits and parts I may not be able to fully describe.
It doesn't hurt as much as it did when I first heard of her demise although it still stings regardless. Going down memory lane has healing effects apparently, and I have benefited from it. I hope Xing Laoshi keeps resting in peace and I hope you think fondly of this Chinese woman who made a huge impact in my life.
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