"Okay, everyone. You all did a great job today. Hope you have a great week! See ya."
"See ya!" The students said almost in unison, beaming with pride at their use of 'authentic' English. They all slowly trickled out as I began to pack my black, over-the-shoulder teaching bag with folders of student work to be graded, a copy of my lesson plan, left-over materials, and random selection cards (index cards with pictures of students along with their Chinese name in Pinyin-the Romanization of Chinese- their English name, student number, and class number). I was in no hurry, so I packed and hummed the way my grandmothers used to do after a long day's work. Before I realized it, I looked up and saw a student working quietly in the back of the room.
"Yeah, I love music." I said with as much false enthusiasm as I could muster.
"Ok. My classmates told me this because I missed last week's lecture." He bagan. "What kind do you like?"
"Oh, I think right now my favorite is Christian hip-hop." I said as I moved my hands pretending to be a rapper, genuinely excited now.
"Wow!" He almost shouted. "You like hip-hop." He could barely contain his smile. "I want to hear some one day."
Taking out my small iPod from my Beats by Dre headphone case, I handed him the headphones and began to search for my favorite song by Lecrae.
"Here," I motioned the headphones toward him. "You can listen now."
He nodded as he listened, and finally gave the headphones back to me.
"It is so quick." He said looking a little defeated.
"Yes, it is." I began. "I have heard this song many times and still do not know all of the words. Even Native Speakers have trouble understanding this type of music at times." I said reassuringly.
"Oh, you are from America, right? Which one?" He said, suddenly chipper.
"I am from the state of South Carolina." I told him. "It's in the south."
"Ok." He said. "Do you like coffee?"
"Yes, I do." I said, a bit confused by the sudden change of subject, even though this seemed to be the regular flow of conversation between me and my students.
"Oh," He began smilingly. "Do you like African coffee?"
"Uh, well" I began. "I guess I just like regular coffee. You know, in America, my favorite drink is a caramel machiato from Starbuck's." I began to answer. In attempts to avoid another strange question, I kept talking. "There are some coffee shops that have good coffee near here. Have you ever been to one?"
"Oh, yes. I have been there." He said as I started to notice his lisp for the first time. "They have English corners and games sometimes."
"Oh, cool. We should go some time." I suggested, attempting to steer the conversation to its end.
"Yes, we should go." He said. "uh, you said you like coffee, so I will bring you some I got from Malaysia, ok?"
"Awesome!" I said. "I'd love to try it."
"Okay, see ya."
ONE WEEK LATER
'It is now time for a break,' the bell sounded.
"Hey, Teacher. I have the coffee for you."
"Awesome!" I shrilled. "I'll try it soon. What kind is it?"
"It's the coffee from Malaysia." He said smiling, "It's white coffee."
"White coffee?" I muttered under my breath. "Oh, thanks." I said with a little chuckle.
I walked all the way back to my apartment with a smile on my face, anxious to try this foreign coffee. After climbing three flights of stairs, sharing my layers, and throwing on some sweat pants, I read the package for "white coffee." I that moment, I laughed out loud because the mysterious "white coffee" suddenly became less foreign as I realized that it is only instant coffee with creamer already added.