After my conference with Summer it was time for a more formal meet and greet. So off Tony and I went to meet the T.A.s (local Chinese teachers) and the teacher who was going to be giving me my training.
Meeting the T.A.s was an interesting situation to be in, some of them regarded me as just another nuisance while others seemed pretty excited about chatting. At that point all of our T.A.s were women (although they preferred to be called girls) with most of them only a year or two out of university. For the most part their majors were in English although some of them must surely have just scraped in with a pass.
One thing that immediately hit me about them was that they used English names, either names they had chosen or names given to them by former teachers. The use of English names rather than their actual Chinese names in fact was so prevalent that even after 3 years I knew only a handful of them by their real names. They also tended to use their English names when chatting with each other even when the rest of the sentence was in Chinese.
After a flurry of questions about where I was from, how old I was and whether I was married or had kids I settled down to trying to work out who was who. Trying to explain that I have dual nationality was an interesting task. All in all though I was pleasantly surprised by how open and friendly the girls were, especially compared to Summer and Tony.
The next stop was a visit to Darcy. As one of the two senior teachers he would be giving me my ongoing training. I am not even today quite sure how to describe Darcy. Instead I feel it might be best just to tell you my initial impressions and work from there. Darcy was (and still is I presume) a real Australian. What I mean by that is that he had carried both his accent and his love of Aus deep into the heart of China.
The one big thing that hit me almost instantly about him though was the speed at which he spoke. Later I realised that the slowness was a trait developed by talking to children in their second language for a long time. At the moment I met him though it just seemed to make conversations mildly irritating as I waited for him to finish.
Rory McDonald is an online marketer and digital entrepreneur, co-founder of the Online Business Expert and passionate blogger.