Last year, when I hiked up Tiger Leaping Gorge, I noticed no matter how high I went or how middle-of-nowhere I felt, there was always cell phone reception. In New York City, I’d go one floor down and suddenly lose signal. Cell phones are just as part of Chinese modern culture as rice is. I have yet to get a cell phone and whenever I’m asked for my number, I’m blankly stared at as if life shouldn’t exist without one. However, if there was one feature that’s abused more than texting, it’s the camera on the phone.
It was my first day teaching in China and I’m nervous. My first lesson was an introduction about myself on where I’m from, my family, and hobbies as well as learning about them. There were forty females and no males in this class. They were fascinated by everything I said. I’m told this is the first time many of them has ever spoken to a foreigner.
As I’m casually talking to my students, I notice a few of them on their cell phones. They were trying to be very discrete about it. It’s my first day teaching and I didn’t think to tell them to put it away but as I paid more attention, all the phones were facing me. *Click* – The exact sound of a picture being taken. They were taking pictures of me. No joke, there was one student that poked a hole through several sheets of paper to take a picture. This isn’t the first time I’ve had pictures taken of me in China.
After about ten classes of this, I’m certain it has circulated the entire school twice. I got use to it to the point that I join in on the fun. If I see a picture being taken, I make my most random pose. I’m scared they’ll catch me in a horrible pose. Back at home I’m a casual every day guy but in Xi’an, China – I’m a celebrity. I’ll try not to let this get to my head but I can’t help it boost my ego a little bit. They may like me now but wait until I give them exams – that same picture will be painted on with devil horns.