My in-box has been filling with good wishes all day.
“Connie, Happy teachers’ Day! Connie, my classmates want to know where you live because we want to give you a gift. Could you please tell me? Sail.”
“My dear teacher, it has been long since we last met. Happy Teachers’ Day! My son is very big now and learn some English words. I want him to go to kindergarten but the school disagree with me. They say he is too little. I want a private school but my wife says the condition is not good. What to do? I no longer teach English from this year. I study law to pass the law test. Where are you now? Your student, Forest.”
“Today is Teacher’s Day. Happy Teachers’ Day! I want to call you. What’s your number? Jalin.”
In some countries, Teachers’ Days are intended to be special days for the appreciation of teachers. Some of them are holidays while others are celebrated during working days. Every country seems to have its own special day to commemorate teachers. In a number of Islamic countries, Teachers’ Day is celebrated on February 28. Other countries choose their own day, such as Chile on Oct. 16, El Salvador on June 22, Thailand on January 16 or the United States on May 6. China and Hong Kong have chosen their teacher appreciation day as September 10, which is today.
It really depends on the school and the country what kind of appreciation is bestowed on teachers. In Taiwan, our Teachers’ Day at Wesley Girls’ High School was especially delightful as we were all given a bonus ($100 each), beautiful hand-made cards from the students and the Parents’ Union presented us with food gifts, such as a cheesecake or a tin of butter cookies. One year, everyone was raving about the packages of dried beef we were given, donated by one of the parents who ran a meat packing plant.
Taiwan certainly went out of its way to recognize teachers.
But in China, our appreciation moments are on a smaller scale and more heartfelt. Thank yous are plentiful, either by email or by telephone. Bouquets of flowers are presented by a class to a favorite teacher. Small gifts, such as a mug or stuffed animal, are likewise common for students to give as a group.
As for the school making a fuss, that really depends on the leaders. At Luzhou Vocational and Technical College, every year a department is put in charge of arranging something for Teachers’ Day. One year, we were all given the afternoon off from teaching. (Now that was a great appreciation gesture!) Another year, we had a tug-of-war contest between departments with the winner taking a prize of $100 for 1st place, $50 for second and $25 for third.
This year, our afternoon classes were cut short for us to attend a meeting. I was quite excited to find out what our appreciation meeting would entail. The Human Resources Department had put it together for us. After dismissing my class 1-hour early from our 2-hour lesson, I headed over to the lecture hall to find out what was in store for us.
As it so happened, the meeting was just like any other meeting. Our 5 leaders sat in front of us on the stage and read directly from written speeches, their eyes glued to their papers with no interesting things to say at all. It was deadly boring and tedious to sit through. As is very common here, everyone was talking and not listening. Some were texting friends on their cell phones. Even President He was taking messages during Party Secretary Zhou’s talk.
After an hour of speech-giving, we finally came to the more interesting part of the program: handing out awards. Excellent teacher awards, excellent department awards, excellent administration awards and a number of others were bestowed on the winners. While celebratory marches played over the speaker, happy recipients raced down to accept their plaques or certificates and pose for a photo. We had four in our English Department who received the excellent teachers’ award. That says quite a lot about our department’s teachers, how hard they work and that the school recognizes their efforts.
As for me, along with emails, I was given a lovely bouquet of flowers from my sophomore English Class 3 students. Unfortunately, those beautiful, fragrant flowers disappeared when I put them in the office for safe keeping while I attended the school meeting. I’m not quite sure what happened to them but at least I have a photo to remember them by. I made sure to bring my camera to class today, just in case a photo opportunity arose. And here one did!
Before closing, I just want to say for all you teachers out there, here’s wishing you a Happy Teachers’ Day from China, and Ping An (peace) as well.