School is back in full swing. It started up around 3 weeks ago. I now have 2 more classes than I had last semester. So needless to say things are really busy around these here parts. I have mostly different students but luckily managed to retain one class from last semester. That would be Class 122 and they are my real buds. Their English level is great, they work really hard, but most importantly they got the memo that I’m a real cool dude that somehow most of the world managed to misplace. Because they’re really cooperative in class, we do lots of fun activities and sometimes hang out outside of class. We’ve gone to the movies, ate pizza and most recently we played laser tag.
Except my students don’t call it “laser tag,” they call it CS, which I’m assuming “Counter-Strike” because video games are pretty prevalent here. It’s also probably a safe bet on account of all the equipment required and the amount of times I shamelessly shouted “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” (That last part may or may not be false.)
My students and I bussed about an hour north of Shenyang to this little place… I don’t know where to begin when describing it, so I’ll do what I normally do and explain an elaborate story that a much more eloquent man than I could summarize in a few words. Imagine if some rather industrious people stumbled upon an abandoned warehouse complete with broken glass, rusty nails and overturned…everything in the middle of overgrown field. These industrious people then say “Yo, let’s build some little cinder block forts and get people to PAY US to come here.” This place is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and would never fly in America, but it’s a still a great time.
We arrive around 9am and strap on a few pounds of military surplus equipment (huge surprise there) in the little plaza area that this rickety ol’ business has established as its headquarters. We got split into two teams and became mortal enemies for the rest of the day. As we fought our friends, our little camouflage vests and helmets blinked, vibrated, beeped and screamed depending on our current state of marksmanship and mortality. I was an American terror on that battlefield.
Speaking of America and its terrors, I met a little boy around 10 years old while we were playing who, unlike the majority of Chinese folks, was more than unimpressed that I was from the US of A. My brother-in-laser-arms and student, Fred, mentioned that he was around the age that kids join the Young Pioneers of China or “red scarves”. From what I can tell is like a Chinese nationalist version of the boy scouts. Fred went on to mention that many kids join this group, and when they grow up they realize we live in a world where no one country is perfect. Eventually, this little boy grew to really like me. He always was huddled in my fort yelling “LAOWAI!” or “WAIGUOREN!” telling me to do stuff that I can only half understand. Like I’m an idiot because I don’t know the Chinese for “move this cinderblock over here so I can stand on it and see over the wall.” He did speak a little bit of English though, and flipped out when I said his laser rifle was cool.
To be fair, it was pretty cool.