To Shiny No. 3
Yesterday, a student whose grades are among the worst wrote to express surprise at the dismality of his exam results. Today, a student whose grades are the best in that same class wrote to express surprise that he didn't get even higher marks. Now you know the difficulties of a teacher. To the former student, I wrote back offering understanding and encouragement. After a few more exchanges in email, I think he now feels better and agrees to come next Tuesday to discuss remedies to his deficiencies. To the latter student, I wrote a long email explaining in details how his marks were derived from, and pointing out the one area where he was particularly weak, and made references to show how that area--doing group projects—should be done and what is expected of. He hasn't replied to my response yet.
The day before yesterday, a student from Hunan brought me a case of black brick tea 黑茶磚. It's probably a local specialty. I opened the case yesterday. Inside, there were two boxes of black bricks. These tea bricks are really as hard as real bricks. I tried my hand on them this afternoon with a screwdriver and a knife, yet I could hardly make much of a dent to them. Too bad the student has already left for home in Hunan. Otherwise, I could at least ask him how one gets about drinking bricks.
This student is graduating, and will go to the business grad school at Chinese University of Hong Kong next Fall. His GPA is only about 3.2 something, generally not good enough to be accepted by the Chinese U. He was also accepted by the grad school of another lesser university here. The acceptance letter of Chinese U came later. His professors told him Chinese U accepted him probably because of his well-written personal statement, not knowing that his statement was written by me. Earlier, he had asked me to go over the statement for him. It was terribly written. So I basically rewrote the whole thing for him. I don't know whether the acceptance was in any way related to his statement, but he believes so and is thankful for my help. By the way, the parents of this student are both government officials in Hunan--副處長 in the tax department. He said most friends of his parents own about 10 properties back home, his parents included, of course. I asked how officials with monthly salaries of about 5,000 RMB could amass 10 properties in a matter of 10 to 15 years. He showed me the mathematics. I've now known something about finances of Chinese officials because of this student.