27 May 2020

I selected Chinese 101 on a panicked whim. When the first day of classes arrived (in those final few days September 11, 2001), I had no idea what to expect but it wasn’t a beflanneled, bearded laowai walked into the room speaking Chinese. He pointed to himself and said 我是老师. He made a funny face when we repeated it back. Still in Chinese, he said something to the effect of “You’re not teachers! You are students!” By the end of class we were all producing Chinese (sort of). I’m sure he had done that routine before, and continued to do it in the future. But for me, it was a one-off, and I was hooked. There would never be a better introduction to a language than that. It set me on a path that has made my life fuller and more exciting than I could have ever imagined, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It is no understatement to say that I would not be where I am today had it not been for Mai Laoshi, and although it started with that first class, he inspired and supported in equal measure continuously throughout my time at Carleton. Carleton will not be the same without him.