When A Chinese Student Falls In Love With New Jersey

Zhou Yinzi moved last year from China to Plainsboro, NJ. Used to dreary classes, she discovered a new world of sexy principals and crushworthy teachers, piercings and booming T-shirts. An exchange student's love letter -- to her teachers, most of

An American tradition: waiting for the Principal (John Rudolph Mueller)
An American tradition: waiting for the Principal (John Rudolph Mueller)
Zhou Yinzi*

PLAINSBORO - I have already decided to get my ears pierced this summer. I still remember the days when I categorically said that I'd never have my ears pierced, nor my hair permed. Well, now I realize how old-fashioned I was.

I also remember how once an American-born Chinese girl asked my mom: "Why do the teachers in China not allow kids to have their ears pierced?"

"They think it will affect the students' learning at school," my mother answered.

The girl was obviously very puzzled: "What does ear-piercing have to do with learning?"

It has been only two years since I came to the United States and I realize how much my ideas have changed. I have been totally immersed in the free atmosphere of an American high school campus.

Our photography teacher is so handsome that you just drool! He has a shining smile and wonderful air. He wears loud T-shirts and has four piercings.

Our language and art teacher has seven piercings. He has so many that he almost has no ears left. He hasn't quite got the "Pompadour hairstyle" or "Regency style hair" but his locks are certainly defying gravity! He only wears white shirts and a tie. He always has a cup of coffee in his hand; he is so cool. He lies down on the floor when he reads Romeo and Juliet in class.

The math teacher is my favorite. He wears a different tie every single day of the year. If you asked any Chinese student who would see him for the first time what he teaches, they would never guess math. He exudes a kind of sunny and youthful radiance – nothing like the math teachers I knew in China with their special air that just says: "Math ruined my childhood."

When I learned that this amazingly cute guy is also the long-distance running coach for the girls in our school, I almost fell over! When he dressed up in a Baroque period costume for a Cosplay (Costume play), we were all charmed. We couldn't take our eyes off of him.

The sexy principal

But you'd be wrong if you think that only the young teachers are cool in our school. The chicest are probably the older ones.

I once needed to make a video, so I asked if I could use the school's recording studio. Our principal told me the video teacher would give me a hand.

While I waited for the teacher to come, a guy suddenly attracted my attention. He was South American looking, short in build, and wore a big black T-shirt, black trousers, with black long curly hair falling on his shoulders. I suddenly realized that he was the teacher I was waiting for.

Having met the video teacher I become really intrigued by the principal: someone who employs so many impressive teachers must be out of the ordinary herself.

Two experiences soon confirmed my feeling.

She joined us for our 11th grade party. In the bus, this principal who wears ultra-sexy clothing and talks loud and fast, flirted with the male teacher next to her all the way to the party.

Before getting off the bus, she said to the boys: "Attention please! All gentlemen please take care of your partners and assist them off the bus!"

At the prom, she was, of course, present again. She definitely does not miss out on any chance of fun.

At the prom, two DJs who looked smashingly cool played dance music. When I got home that night, I got the regular phone interview from my dad in China. "What did your teachers say at the prom?" That was the first question.

"What is the teacher supposed to say at a students' prom?" What a weird idea, I thought.

The mad woman dancing at prom

"But isn't it organized by your school? Aren't the teachers supposed to say something?" I suddenly realize that my dad was logical in his thinking. If it were in China, not only the principal, but also the class teacher, and various subject teachers, as well as the class representative would all have given a speech. If that were to happen at my prom, "Let's beat him up" would have been the audience's first reaction.

As a matter of fact, the teachers were all dressed very elegantly to go to the prom as if they were attending an ambassador's ball. They just walked around, chatted and ate pastries in the corridor and let us enjoy our evening.

While we were being blasted with dance music, an extremely overweight teacher squeezed through the crowd. She took up so much space that everybody had to step back. Then she started dancing like a mad woman with bare feet and her hair flying in all directions. Everybody was just thrilled! After she left after just one dance, leaving us to enjoy the frenzy.

Not only do my teachers surprise me, but they also give us warmth.

One afternoon before history class, I felt a bit sleepy so I just put my head down for a short nap. When the bell rang, the history teacher came over. She gently stroked my back and said "Tired? I understand. It must have been tiring to have classes the whole day." My heart just melted.

When I first came to the States, I thought that American students were extraordinary in their clothing and their behavior. But after seeing the teachers I realize that we are just sweet lambs in front of these maverick adults.

Thanks to them, I love my school, the photography class, the art class, the math class, the principal's office, the history class, the cafeteria and the library. My teachers are just so wonderful.

*Zhou is an 11th grade student at the West Windsor - Plainsboro High School South, New Jersey

Read the original article in Chinese.

Photo - John Rudolph Mueller

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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