We're on a term break and most of the teachers have left town to celebrate the holidays back in the
I usually start off with:
"Hi, My name is _ _ _ _ _, what's your name?"
(I could look at their test paper to get their name but the point is to get them to talk, and check their listening ability).
Then I sometimes say:
"I'm from the
Again, I could see it on the test paper. I only ask this question when the person is not Malaysian. Sometimes they are from a place where the
If the person is not Malaysian I then ask:
"How long have you been in
That tense may be a bit confusing for a beginner.
If I get a blank stare, I use hand motions and change my question to:
"When did you arrive in
People usually answer anything from 3 days to 6 months.
Naturally I then ask:
"What do you think of
The Koreans and the Iranians always answer:
"It's very hot!"
In general people say that "it's very beautiful here" and "the people are very kind"
Today, I was on my own for the afternoon testing. I had 17 people to assess. There was a cute little girl sitting waiting for her dad to finish his exam. I almost forgot she was there because she was so quiet. When I got near the end of testing, a very handsome man with a wonderful smile on his face, came to the table and sat down. (It was his cute little girl waiting). He sat down and handed me his paper. Right away the letters "I" "R" "A" "Q" bounced off his test page. I introduced myself as usual and immediately asked how long he'd been in
I then asked what he thought of
He looked me straight in the eye and said...
"Well, the difference between here and the place that I come from is like the difference between heaven and hell."
At that moment...I felt there was not much more I wanted to ask.
There was a moment of silence that felt more like a few minutes. I thought of those brothers in Tayaran square. Unlike some men who sit around waiting for a job to find them, these guys were out looking for work, only to have someone lure them over to their vehicle with hope, and then massacre them. Here this man sat in front of me and I never asked myself if he was Sunni or Shia or even Muslim at all. I looked at him and saw a man, a father, a human being. I looked at him and saw someone so grateful to be alive.
I've said to myself that if I wake up one day and don't think the palm trees are beautiful and exotic anymore, it means I've been here to long. Every day I pass them I think to myself: wow, this place is beautiful. What a blessing it is to be here. What a blessing it is to have my job, to have a few good friends to have my kids, to have our health.
I asked this man, "how long do you plan to stay here?"
Again he looked me straight in the eye.
He responded with a very serious look on his face, "Forever".