Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Worry, Darling, You're Doing Fine!

Mother in Israel has posted a funny story about her experience teaching elderly Russian immigrants in New York.
Years ago, I also taught English and Judaism to elderly Russian immigrants. I found them to be hysterical. They would comment on and argue about every little thing. I was very young then, and inexperienced, but Russians have a strong tradition of being respectful toward their teachers, so they always called me "teacher" and listened respectfully while I spoke. One day, I was having a lot of trouble explaining a concept, and one of the men got upset and started complaining under his breath in Russian. The other students immediately shushed him, and a lady in the front row smiled at me and said, "Don't worry, darling, you're doing fine!" Embarrassed, I struggled through the rest of my explanation. When I was done, they clapped politely.
At the end of the term, they brought me flowers and thanked me profusely for teaching them so much. Considering the fact they we all knew that I had NOT done a good job, it was unbelievably sweet of them.
The next day, I was gently "let go" from the job.


open the gates said...

Ah, yes - time to dust off my old Hyman Kaplan books.

Leora said...

Something about the others' responses tells me that you were a kind teacher and well-meaning, even if you were stumbling over the subject matter.

I once gave some tours of the North End of Boston, because someone got sick and I was available, and I had no idea what I was talking about. The kids had no idea that I had no idea, but their leader could tell I was unprepared. He was polite. (I was doing Make Way for Duckling tours, which were much easier to give because you just had to know the book).

Baila said...

You mean H*y*m*a*n K*a*p*l*a*n, don't you, OTG?


SuperRaizy said...

Yes, at times it did feel very H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N-esqe!

mother in israel said...

I never got flowers, but then, I didn't get fired either.

Gmar chatimah tovah.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Old story but fun nonetheless.

Have an easy fast everyone.

DYS said...

I have a really funny story from when I taught in a similar program years ago - maybe it was the same one.

Anyway, one evening, in the course of teaching, I happened to mention that I didn't eat meat (I'm a vegetarian). I should also mention that I'm not the thinnest of individuals. Anyway, after I mentioned my vegetarianism, these elderly Russian Jews looked at me in astonishment.

Finally, one older woman said:

"If you don't eat meat, why you so fat?"

Another woman glared at her and said "You don't say 'Why you so fat'!"

I thought she was telling her not to be rude till she (the 2nd woman) continued:

"You say 'Why ARE you so fat!'"

She was correcting her grammar. I was laughing too hard to be insulted.

SuperRaizy said...

mother in israel-
Well, la-di-da to you too!( :
Thank you
That is very funnny- and typical!