Chris


Chris is another memorable Spanish student of mine, but not for the reasons you might think. “Chris” is merely a sexually ambiguous pseudonym that I’m using in order to hide his identity. Oops! I revealed his gender. Okay, he’s a he. This blog entry would be so hard to write since we don’t have a gender neutral pronoun in English. Anyway, he was in my Spanish class for one whole semester, but I only saw him exactly six times during the entire semester that consisted of 58 total days. I never saw him before, nor since, that semester. In the beginning of the semester, he e-mailed me that he was having personal problems and that’s why he was missing so many classes. In fact, he never even showed up to class once. This was the third week of the semester and I still had no idea what he looked like. Then, he e-mailed me telling me that he suffered from anxiety and he was taking prescription medications. He attached an image of the letter from his psychiatrist asking me to excuse his patient’s absences, which I did. When the first exam came around, I e-mailed Chris reminding him to come to class in order to take the exam. I normally don’t do this for students, but I was concerned for him since he was in counseling. He responded by asking me not to ask him anything about his absences when he finally showed up to class on exam day for the very first time of the semester. He didn’t want to create a scene in front of the class because all of the attention would cause him emotional stress. He came to his first class late and I handed him the exam, but he avoided eye contact with me and he was forced to sit in the front row because all the other seats were taken. I could tell that he was extremely uncormfortable. He was tall and thin and extremely pale. His hair was dyed black even though it was naturally black and when he bent his down his hair would fall over his eyes. His lip was pierced and he had tattoos on his arms. Oh, yes, he was dressed completely in black. Well, he finished the exam before the other students and left without a word. I only saw him five more times: on exam days. He would e-mail his compositions and tell me about his ongoing therapy and how he didn’t feel comfortable sitting in classrooms with other students. His exam grades suffered because he was missing all of my wonderful Spanish lessons. Then, one day, he e-mailed me thanking me for being so tolerant with him. Every e-mail that I read from him always implied that he would soon start attending class regularly. But one e-mail absolutely floored me! He told me that he wanted to be a teacher! But I wondered, “How?” He didn’t feeling comfortable sitting in the classroom as a student, so I couldn’t imagine him as a teacher when all eyes would be on him. And that reminds me: we never made eye contact the entire semester. Well, he finished the semester with a D, but he would have gotten a much better grade had he actually shown up with a little more consistency. I wonder if he ever became a teacher.

Please don't ask me to speak in front of the class!

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.