Shengliver’s Note: Will the boy hold onto his dream?




WMM is a teenage boy in one of my two classes. He comes from the city of Danjiangkou. I was not his English teacher for the first term of high school. He joined us in the second term.




The boys and girls around WMM say that he suffers from a condition called mysophobia. This is a rarely used word in English. I check it out in a reference library. According to the library, a person with this condition has a morbid dread of dirt and germs. He tries to keep himself as clean as possible. He may wash his hands 20 or 30 times a day. Some medical workers may suffer from mysophobia.


The reason his classmates describe him this way is not that he gives excessive attention to his personal hygiene. On the contrary, he is dirty. He does not wash his feet often. So his dorm mates protest loudly against the stinky feet both at dorm conferences and in classroom discussions. The boy whose bed is next to WMM’s says that he has trouble sleeping because of the pong. “It is revolting,” the boy complains.


Aha, the teens are using IRONY here. WMM is not clean at all. The opposite is true. I have kept an eye on him since I was informed of his eccentricity. Indeed, his school uniform is soiled and his hair unwashed and tangled. His desk is a pigsty. It is littered with pens and pencils, books, morsels of food, toilet paper, pills and all the stuff you can imagine there could be on a student’s desk. And a desk in a Chinese classroom is not a dinner table. It is small.


One day, while walking by him down the aisle, I paused and took a deep breath to sample his body odour. Good lord! It was anything but pleasant. I, together with his classmates, have been trying to pressure him to change. Of course we are friendly and humorous. He is amused too by our comments. Recently he has been washing his feet every evening. It is summer anyway.




We have got two class clowns. Apart from Mr Zhang Yuncheng, Class Clown No. 1, WMM, Class Clown No. 2, has brought laughter to the classroom.


He need not say anything to amuse us. When he stands up to answer my question, both I, the teacher, and some students will fix our eyes on his face. He is born with a clown face. His mouth is shaped in a funny way. Even when he is not talking at all, you may find his mouth is moving, with the upper lip and the lower lip being pushed in opposite directions. This facial expression never fails to bring forth laughter from the audience. Does he move his lips in this manner on purpose? No at all. He is born this way. His lips twitch involuntarily.




WMM is ambitious. A lot of his classmates believe he has too high an opinion of himself and therefore laugh at his ambitions. Nevertheless he announces in his English journal that he takes himself seriously.


I am not a small man. I am a gentleman. I know someone looks down upon me. They don’t know the real me. I am a great boy. I am bigger than Albert Einstein the scientist. I will be the best scientist in the world. After I die, the whole world will remember me. I will ignore those guys who put me down. I just say little and do much to prove that I am right and that they are wrong.


He has made proclamations of this nature a number of times in his journal. Each time I read his words, I give him a thumbs-up and say that he is great. There is a great man in the boy. He will be.


One day a scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences came to deliver a lecture at the school. WMM raised his hand and put a question to the lecturer. He asked, “Is the English language important for a Chinese scientist?” Of course the answer was positive. Then WMM made up his mind to improve his English. “My English is not good enough, but I will study harder because I will be a great scientist.”




A number of boys are popular among the girls, but WMM beats all the other boys in popularity ratings, I bet. He is helpful to the girls.


The students have no access to drinking water in the classroom, so most of them will go and get boiled water from the water house for drinking in the classroom. The girls wouldn’t take the trouble to travel to and from the water house. And here is where WMM plays a big role. Every day he is seen shuttling with a lot of drinking bottles between the classroom and the hot water house. Hard work. Yes, it is. But his helping hand has won the girls’ appreciation. They chat with him during the 10-minute toilet break. WMM is in heaven when he is chattering away with girls.


One anecdote amuses me a great deal. A girl shared with me what WMM did one day for her. The girl had to catch up on her maths homework during the breakfast break. She asked WMM to buy her a simple meal at the canteen and bring it to the classroom. A favour WMM was too happy to do.


But a school rule says that no meal is allowed into the classroom building. Every day at mealtimes, the students on administrative duty will stand by the building entrance and check. If a student is caught breaking the rule, he will be named and shamed and his class will lose some points in class rankings for his violation of the rule. After that, his class director will lecture him about discipline.


Then how did WMM solve this problem? He had to pass the students on duty. Well, the girl revealed that WMM carried two hot cakes under his clothes and walked by the students undetected. The cakes were very hot, the girl said, for when the cakes were produced from under the clothes and handed over to the girl, they were still hot.


"Thank you, WMM!” the girl beamed, well aware that the two cakes must have burnt the lad.




WMM is a good Chinese teenager. Imperfect as he is, he is lovely. I wish he would never give up his dream of being a greater scientist than Albert Einstein no matter what others might say about him. A dream is what it takes to drive a child forward. Believe in yourself, WMM. You are a great man and you will be a great scientist. Shengliver trusts you!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. SunshineChain
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 00:26:22

    Yeah, a dream is what it takes to drive a everyone forward.

    I do agree that he is a good boy for he has such a warm heart.
    And I do believe that those who have a dream and hold on fast to it will surely succeed sooner or later.


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