Wallpaper me on your cell phone

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.

How many cell phone can you count? Extra point if you find a student sleeping.

How many cell phone can you count? Extra point if you find a student sleeping.

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.

Mount Hua

13 Comments

  1. Joanne M Stein on October 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Haha, I had the same thing happen to me when I was teaching although not as much as you and not that often, mostly only teenagers too. It’s such a weird feeling to know you might be one of the first foreigners they’ve ever seen. I wasn’t too worried about striking bad poses, just didn’t want the kids to get too disrespectful by taking silly pictures that would lead the class to get out of hand. Maybe you could offer to have a group photo taken with them after class and post it up in your room or somewhere in the school.

    • Michael on October 5, 2010 at 8:35 am

      I learned the hard way. One of my classes got out of hand with it. Everyone started wanting pictures with me and them. From that I learned how to involve pictures and video with the class. I took my camcorder to some of the classes and would make activities with it. They loved it.

  2. Joanne M Stein on October 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Haha, I had the same thing happen to me when I was teaching although not as much as you and not that often, mostly only teenagers too. It’s such a weird feeling to know you might be one of the first foreigners they’ve ever seen. I wasn’t too worried about striking bad poses, just didn’t want the kids to get too disrespectful by taking silly pictures that would lead the class to get out of hand. Maybe you could offer to have a group photo taken with them after class and post it up in your room or somewhere in the school.

    • Michael on October 5, 2010 at 9:35 am

      I learned the hard way. One of my classes got out of hand with it. Everyone started wanting pictures with me and them. From that I learned how to involve pictures and video with the class. I took my camcorder to some of the classes and would make activities with it. They loved it.

  3. Jade on October 5, 2010 at 2:49 am

    We had our photos taken in China, too! Funny and weird all at the same time!

    • Michael on October 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

      Too bad we are not as famous in our own home towns.

  4. Jade on October 5, 2010 at 3:49 am

    We had our photos taken in China, too! Funny and weird all at the same time!

    • Michael on October 5, 2010 at 9:36 am

      Too bad we are not as famous in our own home towns.

  5. Flipnomad on October 5, 2010 at 7:40 am

    hehe most Asians are really fascinated with foreigners, maybe because as a race we dont travel that much and seeing a foreigner in our lands is like a novelty 🙂 hehe you became an instant celebrity

    • Michael on October 5, 2010 at 8:39 am

      With China having over a billion people, I’m sure many of them haven’t seen foreigners before. Celebrity for sure! heh

    • Michael on October 5, 2010 at 8:39 am

      With China having over a billion people, I’m sure many of them haven’t seen foreigners before. Celebrity for sure! heh

  6. Flipnomad on October 5, 2010 at 8:40 am

    hehe most Asians are really fascinated with foreigners, maybe because as a race we dont travel that much and seeing a foreigner in our lands is like a novelty 🙂 hehe you became an instant celebrity

    • Michael on October 5, 2010 at 9:39 am

      With China having over a billion people, I’m sure many of them haven’t seen foreigners before. Celebrity for sure! heh

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