In September of 1996, I enrolled in Chinese 101, a course I chose because Asian Languages and Literature was the first table in Great Hall with no line during my Registration time slot. The course was one of the most challenging I’ve taken in my life, but deeply rewarding.
Your enthusiasm for the language was infectious. I was inspired to put in the effort to push through the daily 听写, endless workbook exercises, and intense memorization requirements. I can still recite all of the dialogues from 实用汉语, which is a fun parlor trick. 我又累，又饿， 真走不动了。 You encouraged our class to seek out study buddies. It was because of memorizing characters and dialogues that I developed a strong friendship with a classmate that has lasted twenty-four years. 不，那件太大。
We laughed so hard during our skits and appreciated your puns. I still think 我门 when I see bathroom signs reading “Women.” Thanks to your tutelage, we learned the lyrics to pop songs from the 80s including my favorite KTV selection, 《冬季到台北来看雨》。
We ate 绿豆粥 at your house while Felicia danced in her strawberry knit cap.
We learned not to bring white flowers or clocks as presents.
We memorized more characters. I lost points for incorrect stroke order.
You suggested which Chinese-English dictionary to purchase.
We speculated about a possible love triangle between 古波，怕兰卡 and 丁云. Last year, I learned that 丁云 and 古波 ended up together. No doubt 怕兰卡 is somewhere in 新疆, eating 哈密瓜 and selling 地毯.
Our paths crossed after Carleton, too! I remember when I heard your name called on the orientation day at IUC in Yokohama, Japan. I thought to myself, “There can’t be two Mark Hansells.” There might be, but you are THE original Mark Hansell. ハンサルさん！You brought a bag o’ salad to my roommates’ and my Thanksgiving potluck, tossing it with the dressing while walking up the hill to our house.
Last winter, we reunited at Blue Mondays with Teri and took a photo with my beloved copy of Practical Chinese Reader, the pages crisp with age. It has a place of honor on my bookshelves.
I now teach college students of my own and when they are discouraged, I recite a passage from my beginning Chinese grammar book:
Don’t panic or discourage at this point. You have many more weeks ahead of you to gain a full and competent command of all the rules and regulations. At least, consider the bright side, we have not burdened you with verb conjugations as you would have encountered in learning almost any other language. Chinese is actually a very simple and logical form of speech. Give it time and patience and you will enjoy it immensely.
I did and I have、お陰様で!
Brigid, Teri and Mark
Brigid, Teri and Mark