Teaching in China - Episode 3

(The author of this article, Mr. Mason Keller in picture above, is a Science teacher at Yiling High School International Program)

I live catty-corner to a decently sized mall in Yichang. A lot of the time they play music, sometimes American. This stuff runs the gamut from classics like Thriller to stuff which is more viral than popular (What’s Up? by 4 Non Blondes played just the other day). Recently though, the trend is Christmas music. There’s a nice big tree they’ve set up too; there’s big showy trees in hotel lobbies, other malls, all over commercial areas. But the music is truly everywhere. I was playing some carols for our music club students, they’ve heard them all, excepting the really religious tunes like Hark!, and Silent Night, already. Walking through a small shopping center I’m hearing Wrapped in Red like it’s 2013 again and Clarkson just dropped it…

There’s this obvious appreciation for the popular Christmas imagery and songs coming from near everybody: even the little tree I bought for our office is a big hit for sure. That’s about where it ends though (and why should it be more – what’s a nonbeliever need a nativity for?) Actual celebration doesn’t really exist, though it hasn’t stopped me. I’ve got some presents wrapped under that little tree for my coworkers, and believe you me, it’s a lot harder to find lumps of coal than you might think! We’re also doing a Secret Santa, so that’s nice.

The most surprising thing is that some of my students want to raise money for “orphans or country-folk or something, we don’t really know yet.” I suggested they should either volunteer directly, or do some actual work like collecting recyclables, but they want it to be fun and interesting. Maybe this Christmas they can receive a very valuable gift: the knowledge that the intersection between fun and helping people is very narrow.

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