04 May 2010

Sincere Appreciation

I teach for a living, and I taught for a living back in the US. In HK, when my (Chinese) students think I did a really good job, helped them see things differently or whatever, they tell me so. Much more than in the US, students will come up to me and tell me how much they liked my class. Not only that, they often tell my co-workers how pleased they were, and my (Chinese) coworkers then tell me about it. In the States, this kind of sincere appreciation is much harder to find.

Now, am I better in China than I was in the States? I doubt it, in fact I'm probably much much worse, since I understood my American students mindsets much better than I understand the Chinese, Indian or European mindsets that I encounter in HK. The truth is, sometimes I'm good and sometimes I'm not, like everyone else. The difference between here and the States is that Americans are too cool for school. So when they enjoy class, when it doesn't suck that much and they actually learned something valuable, the last thing they're ever going to do is admit it.

It's not like that here. Students ask questions when they don't understand, they help each other without being judgmental, and they aren't afraid to give sincere appreciation when they think it's due. Now, I don't teach the kinds of classes where I have power over my students. I don't give grades, I work for a private company and my students come to learn. So this is not ass-kissing. It's sincere appreciation, and it's very refreshing. Teaching is very under-appreciated where I come from, and that's unfortunate (for me anyway). But I dont' really think that's the difference. While Chinese people may be more prone to ignore the negatives, they're also more prone to honestly appreciate the positives in life. I can't say it's rubbed off on me yet, but I wasn't a particularly positive person where I came from either.

So this is my round-about, too cool to admit it, American way of saying thank you to my Chinese students in HK. Thank you for letting me know when you think I helped you. Thank you for telling other people who you knew will tell me, however you like to do it is fine. It makes my day every time. So for those precious moments of sincere appreciation I've received in my short stay in your Hi-tech Village, let me return the favor. Thank you for you tolerance of my bad days, and your sincere appreciation of my good days.


  1. aw this is so cute :) i love it!

    I'm glad you are being appreciated for your work! I often feel teachers are extremely under appreciated, in general. Not only in the States.

    I would like to add one observation, In Asia in general, there has traditionally been a huge emphasis on 'respecting your Guru/Teacher/Master/etc', and it is reassuring to hear that that aspect of the culture has not faded, even if it may be an evolved version of what it was 100s of years ago!

    Good on you Wes!

    and while we're on the topic of thanks, Thank You Libertines Pub! - for making my days truly sweeter :) Having just returned to HK after 8 years of being away, It is nice to be reminded that despite appearances, there are non-sheep like folk in this superficial, money minded, bla bla bla villages of ours :) keeps me sane :)

  2. Thank you, Kriti! You made our days as well!

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  3. Wes, I also teach for a living, and took the big step to earn my living in Red China after spending most of my life in the UK.
    I also noticed I'm appreciated more here (again, compared to when I was in the UK, my teaching has probably got worse... but the students are not scared to show it).
    I think it's a cultural / Confucius thing. But it's good to be appreciated, especially since I think we do a very valuable job (not simply passing on information, but teaching them how to think!)

  4. hahaha i already have! duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh :) keep it up :) xxx


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