That I have not mentioned my uniform-clad students as of late does not mean that their militaristic shouts and cries have faded from the early hours of the morning. I did not feel it deserved mention. It has become so commonplace that I forgot it was noteworthy.
What birthed this amalgamation of words one calls a blog post was a small encounter I had earlier in the week.
I had abstained from photographing their drilling for some time. It was too militaristic for me to feel comfortable snapping away at. And it should. Among the ranks of blue, there are dots of green. These are men and women sent from the military to drill the students. Think ROTC except much, if not all, of the student body is involved.
However, one day last week I felt unusually confident, and I wanted to document what was taking place some hundred feet away from me. There was a group of students rather close to the fence, and the act of photographing seemed more innocent the closer I was to the action.
With a wry smile, both to disarm suspicion and out of fear that I would soon learn what Chinese water torture felt like, I approached the fence and took out my phone. I made no attempt at subtly. Let them know, them being the dots of green from the actual military, that I have nothing to hide.
I snapped a couple photos before a shout went out, and my bowels turned to water.
I had not recognized them uniformed in blue, but the group standing feet away from the fence were my students. I have not gone into much detail, but I am idolized; I am adored. Within moments of the first cry of teacher, all discipline vanished. The students were waving; they were screaming and shouting hello‘s; they were students again.
I was rather taken aback. And so, too, was the dot of green that stood an inch to the left in the topmost photo. You cannot see him, and I did not see him either. His camouflage worked as intended, and I did not notice him standing beside me a few feet off of the track.
But I heard him.
I shook slightly when the first student shouted, teacher. I did not shake when the dot of green woke from his utter shock at the total collapse of discipline. Like a whip, he moved up and down the line screaming and spitting in their faces. I was petrified. Forget shaking, I could not move. I was convinced he was going to shout, “Capture that foreigner!”
The students forgot all about their smiles within an instant, but I did not have the mind to leave. I could not leave. Eventually the dot of green turned to face me, and he wore such an expression of loathing that all I could do was smile because I knew I was about to be arrested.
While I may be on a list somewhere, the man turned around without barking an order for my detention.