Short Stories: October

a collection of some of my other favorite moments from this past month, many of which took place in the classroom:


I’m doing a lesson on types of meat that we can cook, and for fun ask the kids to draw some interpretation of the animal it comes from. Jenny and William think they are brilliant, and to avoid coming up, say they are vegetarians and don’t eat meat. I force them to come up anyway and talk about their favorite vegetables and draw something for me. See below:


Balanced Diet Pagoda

I grew up with a food pyramid, which has now become a USDA MyPlate, to help guide me into healthy eating habits (something about eating lots of veggies and fruits, lean protein, and whole wheat). One of my students put something together called “A Balanced Diet Pagoda” that will eventually lead its followers to morbid obesity. The foundation is made entirely of sugar, and water is at the top, consumed sparingly



I went to Chongqing for a weekend and missed my Sunday morning flight back to Lanzhou (because [NAME REDACTED] told me to get to the airport only one hour before my flight, and I stupidly listened to his/ her advice). I caught another flight that landed Monday noon, which meant I had to rush from the airport to Lanzhou downtown, then head to my 2:30 PM class to teach (with bad airplane hair). I prepared some sort of a lesson plan on the plane but I knew it was thin and ran out of things to do a bit early.

In Class 3 I noticed Susan and Fay were not paying attention AT ALL, and were busy playing with each other’s hair. As punishment (and as a way to fill 25 minutes of class) I decided it was my turn to braid their hair. I assured the girls I am good at this, as I’ve braided my older sister’s hair before, when I was a kid 20 years ago. The class crowded around as Teacher Cheng pulled three uneven bundles of hair into a disheveled braid on the left side of Fay’s head. I then proceeded to do the same to Susan. None of the girls have braided their hair in class since.



Bobby: Jack and Vivan are dating
Me: Class 2 Vivian or Class 3 Vivian?
Bobby: Class 2 Vivian
Me: What!!??! Jack and Class 2 Vivian are dating??!??
Bobby: so? I like her. she’s smart, and not a bimbo
Me: I think he can do better

I’m a bit embarrassed but this is a real conversation that took place between myself, a 27 year old, and Bobby, a 31 year old PCV about our sophomores. Should we feel bad we are gossiping about (and intensely interested in) the personal lives of students who are a decade younger than us?


For Halloween I really needed to carve a pumpkin. The kids all knew that Americans carve pumpkins and put candles inside to make some spooky décor for the night. Problem is, pumpkins in China (at least the ones that I could find) were all small and flat, not ideal for carving. I decided to carve a watermelon instead… and I think the results were nothing short of fantastic!! Teacher Cheng is so resourceful! This story will make it into my Yale application for sure, when addressing how i overcame an insurmountable challenge.


Pizza Hut

Not much of a story, but I splurged 100 RMB (roughly 2 days’ living stipend) on a Halloween themed carbonara pizza and drink at Pizza Hut. I haven’t had mozzarella cheese in a really long time and it was freakin’ delicious. The black crust is made from squid ink – so crazy!


Mean Girls

I showed all three of my classes Mean Girls this month, as a treat for being good (they weren’t that good, I really just wanted to watch Mean Girls, and give them a taste of American high school life) Later I ask my kids about their experiences growing up in Gansu

pre-rehab lindsay and the plastics

Me: so were you girls like this too in high school, and maybe even today in college? Figuring out who is popular, and only hanging out with the pretty girls and hot guys?

Maria: yes, in elementary school. But then we stopped caring after that. What about you?

Me: WHAT?!? I still spend every day of my life trying to be more popular and better looking than everyone else

Maria: this is why you are single


One thought on “Short Stories: October

  1. Denesha November 3, 2016 / 3:13 am

    哥哥, I don’t want Dicos anymore. Buy me Pizza Hut.

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