An American Expat

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Dec 17, 2017 00:57
About a month ago I came to know a young American guy named M through an English language course. A Floridian, M came to China nearly seven years ago. When he studied biology at the University of Florida, he got to know a visiting professor from China, through whose connections he went on to attend a grad school in my city and became the first American to get a master's degree in science from that university. He said that he fell in love with this country so decided to stay here after graduating. He still works in the field of biology and is running a start-up that mainly deals with attracting American technologies to China and looking for Chinese investors.

He also volunteers, and has taught English at the city library every Saturday since November. I have been going to the library every other weekend so I happened to attend his first lesson. M’s a good-looking Caucasian; the library advertised his course: “A handsome American CEO, an Ivy League university graduate, teaches English here!,” in an attempt to attract as many students as they could. To be honest, his lectures have always been informative and helpful. However, since he only speaks English during the entire class, many students are having difficulties. The attendees keep falling in numbers, though I’ve noticed that lately he’s been trying to make his English as simple as possible. I heard him speak Mandarin once after class but it wasn’t fluent, so it seems to be the reason why he didn’t speak one bit of Mandarin during the lectures to explain things.

Despite growing up in the American South, M speaks Standard American English without a trace of a Southern accent. This surprised me since I’ve met other American Southerners with thick accents. He created a WeChat group in which he comments on students’ recordings and corrects their pronunciation, but now he is taking a break because he’s heading back to the US for Christmas. M said he returns to America twice a year and wants to spend half of each year in the US and the other half in China, though he’s spent most of his time in China so far. By the way, M is engaged to a Chinese lady from a rural area.

M reminded me of an entry by one of my Lang-8 friends. American expats like M are more or less unrepresentative: they’re either bored with American lifestyles or are simply fascinated by the culture here. I can sense that M is an atypical American in some ways, though I cannot put my finger on it. Anyways, being an expat for so long isn’t easy, so the least I can do is support his classes by participating enthusiastically.