Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)
TITLE: All in a Days Work October 31st - Halloween
By Suzanne Windon
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Unfortunately, within two minutes, the odour of burnt pumpkin filled the room. Nevertheless, it was a fun lesson.
This next class has a coursebook to work through, so weâll have a brief âHalloween culture spotâ and then move on to todayâs chapter.
The class members arrive. I point to the candy and the glowing blackened pumpkin, and ask âWhat is special about today?â
âWan sheng jie!â (Ten thousand spirits festival)
Halloween is mentioned in some popular English coursebooks, so these local English teachers know it exists. I give a brief presentation, followed by several questions.
âDoes China have anything similar?â
âOh yes! We have several âGhost Festivalsâ. We burn paper images of money and other things so that our dead relatives will be provided for. Of course, we donât really believe that their spirits live on. Itâs just a way of showing respect.â
I bet deep down some of them believe in an afterlife. I think of another teacher friend, a new Christian. Having refused to burn paper money for her recently deceased mother, she was then plagued with incredibly awful nightmares.
âDo some people still believe in a spirit world?â
Kathy, petite, well dressed, an English teacher and a successful businesswoman besides, is quick to answer.
âSure they do. My mother prays every morning for our family.â
âAnd who does she pray to?â
Raylene catches my eye, but doesnât speak. Her mother is a Christian. Raylene claims to âsomewhat believeâ in God.
Wilma looks up, her narrow eyes gazing thoughtfully through thick glasses.
âIt isnât important what we believe, so long as weâre good people. What is the word for âlunhuiâ (reincarnation)? If it is true, weâll come back in a better life next time anyhow. If it isnât true, we havenât lost anything.â
The class members nod in agreement and look to me.
âThatâs fine IF reincarnation is true. You know Iâm a Christian. What if there really IS a God who judges?â
Everybody laughs in embarrassment.
We move onto a cute song about kids going trick-or-treating. The somber atmosphere dissipates like a snowflake in hellâŚ.
The topic for the second half of the lesson is âcomplainingâ. Students are asked to share their âpet peevesâ.
Kathy laughs. âI hate it when I step in what dogs do â what is that called?â
What DO we call that?
Raylene sighs deeply then speaks.
âIâm peeved because I have to ask for leave. I donât know the English wordâŚ.â
She is silent, looking at the floor, cheeks glowing. Her friend, Wilma, steps in.
âWeâre only allowed one child. Raylene is pregnant again. She needs a small operation. Whatâs that in English?â
They look questioningly at me. Each pair of beautiful brown eyes represents a soul. An eternity. Perhaps even two soulsâŚ.
âIâm so sorry. Itâs called an âabortionâ.â
They dutifully write the new word into their notebooks. Briefly, I consider the folly of adding the word âmurderâ. I know from experience that this is a much bigger deal to me than it is to Raylene. She sees it as preventing life â an illegal life at that. Still, I canât let the moment pass without saying something.
âRaylene, this is more than a âpet peeveâ. This is serious.â
After class, Raylene offers to postpone her medical appointment so that her time away will coincide with that of a planned break. I understand how my Lord felt when he addressed Judas, saying, âWhat you have to do, go and do quickly.â
Wilma also stays back to ask how she can get a Bible. During her student days, she apparently used to read the Bible in the university library. I refer her to the local church.
As I wearily pack away the black jack-o-lantern and slip a piece of Halloween candy into my mouth, I consider another serious issue that is more than just a âpet peeveâ.
Due to increasing globalization, many Asians are eager to learn English. An undergraduate degree plus a certificate in English teaching is all you need to find teaching work here. Why donât more Christians come? Why do we live in comfort in our home countries while others, in ignorance, head for the horror of a Christ-less eternity?
Teaching isnât for everybody. Eternity is.
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