Wallace (a.k.a. The Man)

This post is about Wallace. Wallace (a.k.a. The Man) has been the nicest person I’ve come across since I’ve been here. This guy is truly amazing. Wallace is Chinese, so that’s obviously not his real name; it’s Wei. Some (if not all) Chinese people who work in English will find themselves an Anglophone name. Is it a matter of seeming more credible in their own eyes or those of their business partners? I’m not quite sure. Some might think it’s funny, but for me it really is… weird, to say the least. I perfectly understand that some people might have trouble pronouncing Chinese names, but hey, it’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? Well, that’s just my opinion. Back to our guy.

So Wallace is the foreign teachers’ supervisor here at Shandong University and he takes care of basically EVERYTHING. Airport pickup, accommodation, medical exams, applying for a residence visa, buying a cell phone, opening a bank account, payment, finding you another job, name it, he’ll do it or if he can’t, he will send someone over who can. You got a question? Ask Wallace. This past week I asked him: “I need an adaptor plug for my computer and other stuff, where can I find this”? He brought me to a shopping mall to buy one. Sometimes we walk by a vending machine and he asks: “Are you thirsty, Charlie”? No thanks, but that’s very nice to ask. He would still buy me an ice tea bottle with Avril Lavigne on the label.

Wei is 34. He has a wife and a 19-month-old baby girl named Jane after an ex-English teacher from Medicine Hat, Alberta. This guys works all the time. He has had a sore throat for a while, even though the temperature averages about 30 degrees Celsius everyday with humidity. The evening after my arrival (last Friday), he told me after dinner: “Charlie, I’ll call you tomorrow so we can go open your Chinese bank account. If I call you later, it’s because I’ll be sleeping in the morning, cause I’m exhausted”. Please get some rest, my man! We finally went to the bank… on Sunday afternoon.

That’s Wallace. A man who works too much to make sure we all adapt nicely to our new environment. A guy who works harder than us, and for less than us. An employee who receives orders telling him to treat us foreigners better than the people themselves. Wallace is a friend, a second father to us all. Xièxie Wei.

Lac Houle 049Charles Paquin is currently participating in the CE Teach in China program

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