This week, in my writing classes, I did a lesson on hyperbole. I discussed with my students the cultural trend in American English to be hyperbolic. They didn’t know the word, but when I wrote “hyperbole” on the board, they were familiar with it (I’m perpetually grateful at the level of my students English; the average PCV doesn’t teach students at this advanced of an ability).
I had them think about the way I speak when I teach class. I asked them how often I use exaggerated adjectives and adverbs. I watched them all grin, because I do it often. Some of them even started muttering certain words I use the most, like “awesome” and “magnificent”.
At this point, the teacher in me is pleased. My students are understanding what I am saying, and are on board for where ever I want to go next. It is times like these that I love being a teacher.
“You say the word love a lot”, she says. Most of them giggle at this. Bingo! (It is beautiful when a plan comes together. I didn’t even have to ask any leading questions to get them where I needed them.)
“Do I??” I ask, obviously feigning cluelessness, to which more laugh and shout, “yes”, at me.
To reinforce the idea and make sure everyone is on the same page, I ask them to define love. After a couple students volunteer their own definitions, I ask what their dictionaries say.
|My students' dictionaries|
don't look like my Mac, but
I don't have photos of their
After a student reads the definition aloud, I ask them if when I say, “I love Chinese food”, I actually have an intense deep affection for it. This question gets a pretty uproarious laugh from the class—after a year in China, I’ve become quite good at using humour in the classroom—followed by a couple (what I judged to be jocular) indignant looks.
“I like Chinese food; I think it is 很好吃 (henhao chi, literally: very good to eat), but do I really love it? No.”
My students laughed and nodded. They understood. They know being hyperbolic is something I do often—dare I say all the time. Heck, when I ask my students to do something, I tell them if they do it, I will love them forever. I don’t know why I do it. My only insight is what I started this anecdote with: it is something my generation, and my culture, does incessantly (I’d also be willing to bet the habit is perpetuated by internet culture).
Should-be poets laureate of my generation, the always effervescent 3OH!3, once rapped, “L. O. V. E. is just another word I never learned to pronounce”. I, on the other hand, not only know how to pronounce the word, but I insist on proving it to everyone on a daily basis. Love is a word I throw around. Always have. It’s probably a bad habit. I should stop.
But in the meantime, this week’s BlogThings topic is supposed to be about love. I will say that since embarking on my chinadventures, love is one emotion I have lacked. What kind of love is probably up for interpretation, but any way you slice it, I do not have a lot of it.
I still love what I do, and no one can take that from me. But I never realized until I left just how much I was leaving behind. I’ve discussed this before (ironically enough, in the only other post where I use a screen cap of my dictionary), but in thinking about this topic, it is that feeling of love that I miss.
Don’t get me wrong, during my service I have met some pretty amazing people, but love takes time. Even though I have grown incredibly close to many people, it is hard to say I love someone I only met a year ago.
Take right now, for example. As I write this, I am sitting in my flat alone. I have been sitting here for almost an entire day, just sitting in front of my little electric heater (the radiator’s not on yet and it’s below freezing outside). I have stacks of midterms to grade on my coffee table, and yet between writing paragraphs for this blog, I have been watching episodes of this sitcom the internet told me was funny, shame-eating candy from a recent care package. And the worst part? I’m wearing two different shades of navy blue at the same time…
But I don’t want to end this post on such an angsty note; this isn’t my old Xanga (too bad I don’t have a link to that!). The other challenge of this post was to let people know I love them. People know. There are people that I am in constant email contact with. If people want more love from me, all they have to do is write me an email. I’m great at writing lengthy responses (true fact: I’m developing a reputation even among PCVs for over-writing emails). Also, I should mention that I love anyone taking the time to read this. My blog has gotten more hits last month than ever before. I try to use little things like that as a reminder I’m loved.
Required listening: “Elephant Love Medley” from Moulin Rouge (blame my high school sweetheart for my un-ironic fondness of this song).
Next week, my assignment is to write about something (little known) I am passionate about. The goal here is to inform people about something you think is just pretty rad that is unnoticed or under-appreciated.