Over the last few months the English Language Support Unit at the Anglo-Chinese School has had a string of teachers out of action for various reasons – which has mean that Anna has been called on to plug the gap. Although sometimes teaching long days she has relished the opportunity to use her teaching skills as well as getting to know a large group of 16-18 year old students from Mainland China, Thailand and Vietnam.
One student rejoices in the English name of Ariel. She chose the name because she likes the Disney character from the Little Mermaid. She doesn’t realize that the name originally is Hebrew and means “lion of God”. Ariel came to Anna and asked for extra help with her English. She is under a great deal of pressure from her parents to rapidly improve her English in order to re-take her English O-level oral exam back in Hong Kong next month. She needs to improve on her C grade from last year in order to follow the career trajectory mapped out for her. Ariel comes from a wealthy Cantonese family and is the only child, now far from home and boarding in Singapore. Anna asked her about how things had gone on sports day knowing that Ariel excels in sport. Her eyes lit up as she described her races - she had done well and won an amazing four medals for the events she had participated in. Anna warmly congratulated her and asked her if she had phoned to let her parents know. At that point Ariel’s eyes filled with tears and she nodded before blurting out, “All that my mum said to me was, “Why are you wasting your time at sports? You should be studying!””
Anna simply sat and listened as Ariel told her of a life that was filled with all the comfort, convenience and privilege that money could buy but was almost completely starved of parental time and affection, despite the fact that she was an only child. She loved her mother dearly. But in order to set up her own successful business as well as establish her sister’s business, her mother had left the house each day before Ariel was up and came home at night after she’d gone to bed. Even as a tiny girl, Ariel persuaded her maid to let her stay up past 11 pm night after night in order to catch a glimpse of her mother – in vain. Eventually Ariel said, through sobs, that she gave up trying to spend time with her.
Now that she has left home and is away at boarding school, her mother has realized that there is a vacuum where a relationship should be and insists that Ariel phones her four times a day. “But I have nothing to say”, she cried, “I feel I don’t know my mother at all”. Please pray for Ariel. She is not academic at all, yet her parents have very high expectations that she will do well and get into University – and what she seems to understand at the moment is that good grades are the only way to gain their approval. She is longing for love and acceptance. Anna has given her a parallel Chinese-English New Testament which she has promised to read during the holidays.