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Friday, April 1, 2011

Ned Flanders I am!!!???

As the song goes: “Oh what a beautiful morning…”
Can I sing it loud and clear? In my head, I can and I will. But, over the past weeks I’ve realized just how much my positive approach to life can MAYBE be too much for those around me… in the office…

Throughout the first weeks the other foreign teachers have constantly been wondering WHY and HOW I’m able to be sooooo darn positive, in just about every situation… They wondered why, even when I was being ‘bombarded’ with more lessons, I was still smiling? When it was cold and windy, why would I speak of loving the weather? When the kids were playing-up in class, why would I be so ecstatic and excited?

The first weeks, I felt like this ‘questioning of my positive attitude’ was an attempt to bring me ‘down to earth’ and for me to see that life really doesn’t always smell of roses. I then started getting into my head that others were being annoyed by my positivity… Mainly because I got myself the name of Ned Flanders from the Simpsons! For those who don’t know Ned; he’s a character that’s holy, always full of beans and always preaching of how glorious life is… Hummmmm…

I wondered… is that really me? Am I a real-life Ned Flanders? What did this do to me? I simply had to laugh! I thought it was the funniest comparison and didn’t give a s***… (if I were to NOT have been a real-life Ned, I’d have spelt that word without using stars… hahah… because good-ol’ Ned, doesn’t like to curse!)….

All of this has been said jokingly – on their behalf as well as mine... It’s all fun. And, because I was taking these remarks so lightly, I then asked the foreign teachers: “Is it annoying to be around somebody who always looks on the bright-side of every situation? Am I doing your heads in?” Did they want to escape the real-life female version of Ned Flanders? Did they want to bring me down and for me to start givin out about the company, the students, the classes, the hours and just… life in Jinzhou as an English teacher…? And, because everyone pretty much speaks their mind and I want them to be honest with me… I got a straight answer…

It was: “Niamh, we just think it’s hilarious… you’re glass is always half-full…” I had to correct them on this point: “My glass is overflowing, it’s THAT full…!” They added: “It’s just surreal for us to be around a girl who comes into the office and says with so much passion that what she’s about to say will sound so bad… and the only thing she shouts from the top of her voice is: “I’m so excited to go to sleep tonight!”
Niamh, if this is something you consider to be a BAD thing… then nobody can be annoyed by your positive attitude nor will they ever take away your positive approach towards life!”

Also I’ve been told that the teacher I’m replacing, a guy by the name of Roger, was someone whose glass wasn’t just half empty, but it was leaking and just about bone-dry! What a turn-around this has been, for everyone in the office.

Roger was known as the most negative person in the office and he aimed to bring everyone down with him. He hated Jinzhou, hated teaching, hated the classes… So, I’m sitting at what once was his desk, I’m teaching the kids who used to be on the receiving end of his hatred towards… everything. This is the reason for others to initially have been trying to get me to see that life isn’t always amazing or smelling so fresh and being so new…especially not in China…!

But, now that the western colleagues (who form not only the workforce but also my ‘social life’ and my home-life) are realizing that nothing will get me down, even when my 7-year-old student by the name of Robot, provokes me, ignores me and causes havoc in class if he’s told to ANYTHING, they don’t question my smile anymore. I don’t need to justify why I’m happy or why each day something new or ‘amazing’ happens… It’s as Ned Flanders would say: it’s all fan-did-e-ly-tas-tic and spec-did-i-ly-ta-cu-lar when the did-i-ly sun is shining and the sky is blue… 

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