K| Dear 盛老师

Dear 盛老师,

I think that the least that I could have done is write this letter in Chinese, but I really couldn’t. I tried and it sounded like complete garbage. I am sad to admit it, but I just cannot coherently express myself in Chinese in the way that I want to.

I want you know, 盛老师, that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for missing class, Saturday after Saturday, even though Chinese School is only 2 hours out of my weekend. I’m sorry for making Chinese School the absolute last priority in my life. I’m sorry for never doing my Chinese homework this school year, not even once. I’m sorry for not even caring that I don’t do my Chinese homework. I’m sorry for never reading the emails that you take the time to carefully write. I’m sorry for not being able to read them, because they are all in Chinese. I am sorry that our entire Chinese class this year is filled with absolute morons who can’t read one sentence in Chinese without stuttering (I’m one of those morons.) I’m sorry for being a moron.

But, most of all, I’m sorry because you are the best teacher I have had in so many years.

When I was in elementary school, I used to actually look forward to Chinese School. I was always the best in the class (Mandarin Chinese was my first language) and I loved raising my hand to answer questions. I loved going home from Chinese School and then starting Chinese homework immediately. I liked having my homework all completely done before Sunday. That’s how I was for years. It didn’t matter if kids in my Chinese class thought I was a loser for loving Chinese. It didn’t matter if nobody else participated in class. I was just whole heartedly, genuinely eager to learn Chinese.

But that changed.

The year that it changed, I would have to say, was 6th grade, the first year that I got a bad Chinese teacher. I remember she would give us the most boring lectures in class, yell at us for no apparent reason, and even clip her fingernails while teaching. And I started thinking what the rest of my class had thought about Chinese School for a while, that Chinese School was just a big fat waste of time. And since sixth grade, it seems that it has just been bad teacher followed by even worse teacher for year after year. In 8th grade we even ended up having the same teacher we had in 6th grade. But, even then, I didn’t give up. I had pride.

I still liked raising my hand and answering questions. I still liked being the best at Chinese out of the class. I still liked getting 100s on Chinese tests and quizzes. That’s why I never quit Chinese School, even as I watched my class shrink every single year. (We started with more than 30 students in Kindergarten and now we’re down to less than half of that who show up to class in junior year.)

I am sorry that I am not part of the less than half that shows up. I’m sorry.

While it seemed that I would never ever get a good Chinese School teacher ever again, all of a sudden, you, 盛老师, became our teacher for 11th grade. You didn’t just tell us when it was a Chinese holiday. You had us celebrate that Chinese holiday. You didn’t just tell us what it means to be Chinese. You told us what it means to be Chinese for you. You told us about your kids, your husband, and your life. You treated us not like the morons that we are but like we’re your friends and that class was just a big conversation with you.

That’s why I seriously hate myself for choosing this year to give up on Chinese School. I don’t get it. You’re amazing. You are finally making me actually like Chinese School again. But I gave up. I started skipping Chinese School first just for the day I took the SATs but then that increased to skipping on days I wanted to study for SATs too and SAT 2’s and tests on Monday. At one point, I skipped just to take naps.

And, yeah, my parents get mad at me about that, but what can they do when I tell them my GPA at school DEPENDS on me skipping Chinese School? I’m sorry.

What makes matters worse is that you actually get it. You get it. You get why our class skips and doesn’t do homework. You tell us how much you get us. You are okay with it. You understand that SATs are so important and that our GPA at school means more than our GPA at Chinese School. (Is there even a GPA at Chinese School? It might be pass/fail.) You make it impossible for me to even make up excuses for missing Chinese School because you tell us you’re okay with it before we even open our mouths to say sorry.

But I want you, 盛老师, to know that I am sorry and that I’m not going to skip anymore. I can’t believe that I just gave up, but I am ready, now, to pick it all up where I left off and start again. But before that, I just have to say sorry.

Sincerely,

K

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