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Short essay on school canteen | …

It is bloody cold. There's no heating south of the Yangtze and we are some kilometres south of it, so tough. It may snow, but no heating. Old Zhou brings me a fire bowl, filled with charcoal, and shows me how to sit with my legs over it, and how to keep the window open to avoid the fumes. I decide it is warmer to stay in bed. This makes it more awkward when she comes to see me, in her thick padded jacket and trousers, that turn her into Michelin man. She makes it clear that I can't receive her in bed, so we sit in the other room our frozen hands round the ubiquitous cup of green tea. How I long for a cup of PG tips with milk and two sugars. Not to mention central heating. In the classrooms the students sweep up odd bits of paper and light fires on the concrete floors. I teach them some songs with hand movements, just to keep my own blood circulating. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, that kind of thing. When I say they could use these with their own future classes, they look doubtful. They only put up with me, because my lessons were easier than the others, and, I like to think, more enjoyable.

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But then you lose interest. One day I come round and the jam jar has gone. You've put them on the balcony. You didn't want to sit and imagine the grubs evolving into winged creatures, imaging how delighted they would be to find they had wings and could fly wherever they wanted. I think this is because you can fly and go wherever you want. It isn't anything special for you. You can even go to places in China where I am not allowed to go. For the first time I feel angry with you, for having things I don't have, and for not even realising it. How clumsy you can be, putting your big feet everywhere. You came here, knowing nothing, expecting to teach us, who knew far more about the grammar of the English Language than you did. And yet as I say this, I know it's not true. You did know better about some things. How to fill in university application forms for Canada and the US, how to write the application letter, and do the sample essay they require. You are encouraging half the young lecturers to try to leave China. And I too, I want to go with you and see the other half of the world. I am just as bad as they are. Worse even, because I am pretending to be different.

My school canteen short essay 150 words

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I soon realise that it is going to be hard to teach conversation to 60 students. No one will answer a direct question from me (it is not our Chinese custom) and no one will talk in pairs if I ask them to (they do talk, but not in English). The old guy who introduced me that first time turns out to know no English at all. He sits in the front row and sleeps, while I talk to myself. So I get them to write about themselves instead. The first essay is about the wonderful Communist Party of China, and so is the second. Both essays are just about the same, and I am about to accuse them of copying, until I realised all 60 are identical. Someone must be organising them, telling them what to write. I suspect my Minder. But when I ask her she is indignant, and shows me the first exercise they had been set in their writing class that term: they had all copied the set exercise and translated it into English.

I've borrowed a bicycle for him. I was surprised when he told me he could ride a bicycle: I thought only Chinese people rode bicycles, because on the TV foreigners all drove cars. They are both flying pigeon bikes, the best, from Shanghai. He didn't look very impressed when I pointed this out. Maybe they have different ones in England, but I don't believe they could be any better than our flying pigeons. We ride along the river bank and over the Xiang Jiang, the Fragrant River, where Chairman Mao swam one hot, hot day. My father said it was madness, all the old men of the college, swimming with him, to prove their loyalty. Some of them died of heart attacks, but Chairman Mao only laughed. It was a brave way to die, he said, for true comrades.

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I have got written permission from the leaders to take him shopping. I have to do this every time we go anywhere together, but I have never told him about it, or how difficult it is for me, if he goes out somewhere without me. Or if he suddenly asks to go somewhere when I'm not prepared. Sometimes I make excuses. Once I ignored the rules altogether but they found out. I don't want to take that risk again. They might send me to a school to teach instead of letting me stay at the university. The students with the best marks are always invited to teach here, unless they make a mistake. I used to think it would be hard to make a mistake, but now I think it might be easy.

First day of term, and I go into the English faculty building to find the teachers cleaning the latrines. Wang and Wu are in their wellingtons, sloshing water around in a foul smelling bucket. I try to commiserate but they seemed to think it perfectly reasonable for them to spend their morning cleaning, instead of preparing their lessons. Maybe it is a propitiation rite: we'll clean your toilets if you behave all term. I leave quickly before they ask me to join them. No way am I going to go anywhere near those evil smelling loos. I can't believe that anything they do will improve the stink that wafts round the classrooms all year.

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'Oh but he does, he does. He loves foreigners. He loves Dickens and Shelley and Byron. He has all their books (no one knows this, they are hidden away under his bed, it's still not safe to show them to everybody). He speaks English very well: he taught me. He passed on his love of English to me. It's just that... well, he suffered in the Cultural Revolution. His students, they... they, the red guards, they came here and beat him up. They knew he had foreign books here, and they were forbidden. But he refused to hand them over, and they couldn't find them (because my mother had taken them to the country side, hidden in straw), so they beat him up, and he hasn't been able to work since, because they damaged his eyes. He never goes out, because those people are still around in the college.

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