An American Expat

  •  
  • 438
  • 13
  • 3
  • English 
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.

[Edited]
我通过一个英语课程认识了一个名叫M的美国年轻小伙子。M来自佛罗里达,大约7年前来的中国。他在佛罗里达大学攻读生物时,认识一位来自中国的访问学者,通过后者的关系,他来到我所在的城市继续读硕士,成为了那所学校里面第一个拿到理工科硕士学位的美国人。他说,在读研的时候,他爱上了中国,所以毕业以后选择了留在中国。现在他仍然在生物学领域工作,创办了一个小企业,吸引美国技术到中国,寻找资金将这些技术市场化。

他也热爱做志愿者,从今年11月开始在市图书馆教英语。我每隔一周会去一次图书馆,所以碰巧赶上了他的第一节英语课。M是一个白人,长相英俊,所以图书馆打的广告是:“一位美国CEO,常春藤名校毕业生,教你如何玩转地球“,以此吸引学生。实话说,他的课程很有帮助,但在课堂上他只讲英语(尽管我注意到他已经尽量降低语言难度了),大部分学员听不懂,来上课的人越来越少。我在课后听他说过一次中文,磕磕巴巴的,所以这也许是他不用中文上课的原因之一吧。

尽管在美国南方长大,M说的英语是”标准的美国英语“,不带南方口音,这一点有点奇怪,因为我之前碰到过的美国南方人基本上口音都很重。他还建了一个微信群,学生们上传语音,他来纠音,不过这个群暂时停止了,因为M回美国过圣诞节去了。M说他计划在中美两个国家各待半年,虽然这七年来,他绝大部分时间是待在中国。说个题外话,M订婚了,未婚妻是一个中国的农村女孩。

M让我想起了我一位Lang-8好友的日记。像M这样的美国海外定居人,或多或少有点不寻常:要不就是厌倦了美国的生活方式,要不就是深爱当地的文化。我能感觉到M在一些方面不是一个典型的美国人,虽然我也说不出个所以然来。不管怎么样,在国外待这么长的时间不容易,我能帮到的,至少是能够在课堂上好好支持他的教学工作了。