Confession of an ESL Teacher
(NOTE: I am not in love with one particular girl. The girl I am pertaining to here represents the country Cambodia whom I've learned to love.)
I will tell you a secret. I will go to Bangkok soon to have a total make over. I intend to have a nose job and to have my skin bleached. I might also buy tons and tons of hair dye. No, it is not what you’re thinking. I don’t have white hair yet. I am not that old. In fact, I won’t buy black hair dye. I will be getting yellow hair dye.
I might also visit an optical shop and get some colored contact lenses. Blue will definitely be in my shopping list.
I will do all of these because of love. You see, I fell in love with a girl. Is she beautiful? Ummm. I don’t know. Please don’t ask me that question. All I know is that I love her. Period. My love for her made me decide to stay in Cambodia for good.
So, what’s the problem? The problem is that I think she cannot reciprocate my feelings. She cannot love me back. Yeah. I understand. I am not her type. She is looking for a Caucasian guy. She abhors colored people. In fact, she doesn’t even like her own color. She is Asian of course. But she is using whitening skin products I guess. You see, my inamorata is light skinned. Although she still looks very Asian.
Actually, that is not a problem either. It is not a problem for me because my love for her is not erotic. It is filial. Platonic.
Why are you laughing? I can see that smirk in your smile. No, really. I don’t intend to have sex with her. I just want her to be happy. That’s all. That’s why I am here. That’s why I am helping her. Call me an idealistic nut. But I really am platonically in love with her.
That is the very reason why I volunteered as an ESL teacher for more than a year. Yeah, you read that right. Volunteered. Of course now I am teaching in a prestigious English school in Phnom Penh for I have to feed myself. Nevertheless, my intention is really pure. I just want to help her.
Well, yeah, of course she cannot see that. In fact, she told me once while we were conversing, “Teacher, please speak like American. Cannot understand teacher. Please speak like American.”
I replied, “I am a Filipino. I am not an American. So, I cannot have that American twang. I believe though that my pronunciation is okay. You see, I passed TOEFL with above-average mark. Aside from that, I’ve travelled to eight different countries and people whom I spoke to understood my English. I had American professors in the Philippines too and they did not complain about my diction. So, I guess my pronunciation is okay. But if you cannot understand what I am teaching please call my attention and I will be happy to explain the lesson to you more.”
Once she taught me that I must pronounce “travel agent” as one word. She even argued that it is spelled as one word without a space in between. I nearly lost my patience when she argued with me passionately. I kept telling her that it is spelled as “travel agent” but she doesn’t want to believe me. Imagine, a student who cannot even make a grammatically correct simple sentence arguing with a teacher whose TOEFL iBT score is 104?
Of course, I taught my all my students to have their own minds and to examine all the things that I say. However, I told her that I am really one hundred percent certain about my spelling of the compound word “travel agent”.
I also told her that I can pronounce it as two separate words for clarity especially when I am talking to a non-native speaker of English. Sadly, she doesn’t want to believe me.
It all boils down to one thing. The color of my skin. I am heartbroken because of colonial mentality. For her it doesn’t matter if I am good in English. For her I am still Asian.
That’s why I am contemplating to have a total make over. Maybe she will learn to love me if my skin tone will be different.
But what the heck. Isn’t it that I must be proud of my race? I am who I am. Guess I will still leave. But to look for another lover who will love me for what I am.
Re: Confession of an ESL Teacher
I have lived in both Cambodia and the Philippines and skin whitening products are widely available and used in both, so it's not a Cambodian thing. They advertise things like armpit whitener in the Philippines on TV. I have seen the extreme whitening faces of some young women in Cambodia, so I am well aware of how far some go. Your two posts both bang on about race/ethnicity- we're a language discussion forum and such issues belong elsewhere.