At any rate, we decided to walk from New Mart to the market, and on the way there, one of my students called out to me, "Miss Olive!" I recognized him, but with approximately 900 students and no formal introductions, names are rough right now. I introduced the other teachers to him and asked him his name. Fortunately, he told me his English name, Ben, because half the time I can't pronounce the Mandarin names and am probably calling them "cow belly" or something. He walked his bike alongside us and followed us to the market. Ike asked him where he was going, and he responded, "With you!" This is a huge cultural difference I hadn't anticipated - even if the coolest teacher in all the land rolled up to an American high school on the sweetest motorcycle ever made, you would be hard-pressed to find a student willing to go shopping with that teacher. In fact, such behavior would probably bring up questions. But here, it's a pretty big honor for Ben to help us out. He didn't want to leave us, either; we kept looking out the cab window at him, standing on the sidewalk, waving goodbye.
At 4, I had an appointment to go "for a walk" with two of my students, so I took Jamie with me. Despite Chinese protocol, I felt better having someone with me; there's too much American in me who's afraid of being alone with students and accusations and talk. The girls were agreeable, though, and they were disappointed to find out that I only had an hour and a half allotted to them. I had no idea they had anything planned, but they ended up taking us to the small rinky-dink amusement park. We played a shooting game, then went rollerblading (so, yes, there is video out there of me on rollerblades). It's my best day in China so far, all thanks to my awesome students. I know as a teacher in America, I will have great days with my students, but I can guarantee they won't involve shopping and rollerblading. It's a cultural difference I appreciate very much right now, and one I will miss when I'm gone.