While we were hanging out in Xiaogan, Tian took us on a tour of her old elementary school, which is located about five minutes walk from her parents home. Despite having visited Xiaogan several times, I personally had never been inside. So it was a new experience for both Mike and me.
Most of the students there had most likely never met a foreigner, so they were very excited to meet us. We first stopped in Tian’s fifth grade class room, and the students introduced themselves to us and asked Mike some questions to try out their English. After the bell rang, the entire school descended into the courtyard and mobbed us. One student asked us for our autograph, and soon the entire school was pushing pencils and paper toward us. It got a little crazy, so we excused ourselves and waved goodbye at the gate.
The students’ excitement to meet us made us consider how in the US, students and most adults don’t react with such excitement when they meet or see a foreigner. Perhaps it is due to the exposure many of us already have to different cultures in the US, or perhaps it is because subconsciously we don’t feel as much of an incentive to reach out and expend energy. What do you think?