Today is Christmas Eve… And I’m not in work. Instead of working today to catch up on missed classes, lessons have been rearranged during the week. For me, it is only three lessons and I’ve already finished two of them. But for others it means more lessons in an already full day and more sat in cold corridors listening to students tell them what their favourite food is, or their favourite subject, or describing their home town or family.
This has been a largely uneventful year for me in China. This is my second year, and the first semester is almost over. I’m teaching some of the same students, some new. Classes are, broadly speaking, going well.
Yet in the wider world, it has been anything but. There was the EU referendum in Britain and the US presidential election, to name but two monumental events of the past 12 months. Looking at things from so far away can make you feel a little divorced from everything. Christmas here is very commercial – perhaps more so than in the UK, because it is not a holiday here. Christmas is just another working day.
2016 has been a difficult year in many ways. And 2017 doesn’t exactly look to be much better. Yet in feeling Christmassy, and getting into the spirit of the season, there is always room for thinking positively and being hopeful. I wished all my classes Merry Christmas yesterday; one of them gave me a round of applause. In another, I won’t see them again until next semester. Students here are eager, keen and inspiring. They work hard, study all the time, get more homework than I can imagine, and yet still try and succeed in their (what some consider to be) pointless oral exams.
So looking forward, rather than back, I’d just say this: 圣诞快乐 (shengdan kuaile). Merry Christmas. 🎅🎄