The Vanishing English Corner
As dusk falls on your campus, you approach the crowd of Asian students practicing English. A few eyes turn and light up to see a foreigner – you wonder if they mistake you for a celebrity. Instantly you are mobbed by a dozen students clamoring to ask you questions: “Where are you from?” “Are all Americans really like the TV show Friends?” “Do you want an Asian boyfriend?”
During training, we had tried to prepare our teams for what to expect. Now the night arrived when we would attend our very first real-life English corner. My team met beforehand to work out any nervousness, and pray for God to send us the right students.
I could sense a nervous excitement and anticipation. We showed up ten minutes late to the English Corner, but no one was there. Did we get the right time? Are we sure they meet in front of the Science building? At least 5 different students last week had told us it was held here.
After waiting a little while and asking every student nearby if they spoke English (they didn’t), we split up to find the real English corner. Maybe we just had the wrong location. Duke and Buckeye headed to the basketball courts. Sydney waited in case anyone showed up at the original location. Enrique, Cozy, and I started walking around the campus.
“See that gazebo full of people? Let’s check it out!” Enrique and Cozy followed me over to a group of about ten students crowded in a gazebo. “Hello, do you speak English?” I asked. “Do you know if there is an English Corner here?”
They giggled nervously, “No, this is a Chinese corner!” One guy with excellent English stepped forward to help us. It suddenly didn’t matter if we found the real English corner or not; God had planned something better. We spent the next hour talking with this group – most were philosophy majors, and 4 of them spoke great English. As I connected with one of the girls, I looked over to see Enrique and Cozy excitedly talking with their new friends and exchanging phone numbers. They still have not attended a real English Corner, but I decided they are pretty amazing at creating their own!