Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Time of the month

An embarrassing anecdote from Beth Ovens

This is from my time teaching in China....

It being a certain time of month, I got ready for an 8 am class and applied a Chinese-brand sanitary pad whilst half asleep. Not being one of the lucky people who had a western toilet, I put the wrapper in the bin next to the squat toilet and walked from my building to my classroom. I was receiving more stares than usual but paid no attention to the glances and sniggers as I walked the 10 minute journey.

I strolled confidently into class after having been followed up the six flights of stairs by some of my students. Beginning the class with a pairwork discussion, I began to walk around the class to discuss the question with my students. There was much hushed whispering, but I put this down to L1 explanations of the question. Two of my female students called me over and I prepared myself for a question only to be greeted with two embarrassed faces and the hushed statement,

'You have something stuck to your leg.'

Expecting it to be something small and insignificant I turned around to discover with horror, the rather large sanitary pad wrapper I believed to be discarded in the bin, stuck to the back of my thigh. Rapidly grabbing the paper, whilst trying to be discreet about what it was, I tried to carry on as if nothing had happened whilst struck with a dawning realization of the amount of students who had seen it blowing in the wind as I walked to class.

Thank goodness my students felt confident enough to overcome the 'face' issue and tell me about it. Still, it doesn't beat my friend who walked across campus with a large cardboard box of condoms (for HIV/AIDS teaching) not realizing the large characters written on the side of the box was the Chinese for condoms. I dread to think what image she had on campus!

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