The critical 69 years old lonesome catholic Ex-Navy Captain teaches english at university and also free of charge for young and old (doctors and professors), who are ambitious to learn. Joined a lesson and had a chat with him and his four students at my last day in Myeik in the evening. He teaches nearly 60 in his leisure time. His wife died early. By translating he also tries to mediate values, like why it´s good to make donations. He talks about the corruptive military system in Myanmar – the reason why he left the military service, retired. Mostly the students dream about going to foreign countries. Singapore or Thailand, because of the good relationship between them, to rise their skills and earning enough money to send it to the family.
They are asking me questions, well, more they had to, the Captain pushed them – Oh Captain, my Captain!
– Can you explain to me the value of time?
– You say “Sir”.
– Can you explain to me the value of time, Sir?
– Why are you travelling?
– Why do you have a beard?
– I saw you on the street today and i recognized that you are an honest and educated man not like many other tourists. That´s why I invited you to join the class. I very appreciate your visit. You are always welcome.
He also appreciates that he had learned, under the impact of colonialization, british-english.
– (…) like Obama. Not like today, the students learning burmese english, mixing up vocabularies and pronouncation is very bad. (…) Why? The government doesn´t want young people learning proper english, because they are afraid of loosing power and money by an educated youth. As I was a young, soldiers were soldiers, not like today, they are more business men, you have to pay but nothing happens.
I realize now that I didn´t asked him about his name. Julia, Diana and Cinderella, the boy, new in this class, didn´t had a name at this point. He gave his students english names, because they are shorter.
– Burmese names are too long.
Baptised himself “The Challenger”, appeared to me like a cartoon superhero. A master of puppets. A very calm, balanced and upright man with a big heart and a great vision.
– Everybody should be educated in Myanmar and should have the possibility to visit school, right?!
In another way, he has something of a dictator as well, like a visionary has to, waiting beyond his shaded glasses for efforts and answers. He is proud of possessing books like “In 80 days around the world” and “Gulliver´s Travel” and some catholic church literature in english.
– English books are very hard to find in Myanmar. The book sellers don´t know a lot about english literature.
Maybe that´s the reason why it´s not forbidden to read them.
His house is constructed like a typical traditional, made of wood, on stilts, downstairs the open kitchen, toilet and garage, all-in-one, the room upper floor he prepared like a classroom, with a small room next door for sleeping. Tables, high like your knees sitting down the floor, placed in a friendly rectangle. Teacher´s desk at the top, messed up with books, DVDs, scripts, a mirror and small presents, religious talismans of Father Bruno. The board behind him. He takes his mission very serious, always motivating his students to ask me questions. They were more afraid, on one hand about their english skills, on the other about the strictness of the Challenger.
– Julia (his most advanced creation), come on, introduce yourself and make the presentation why english is good to learn.
Julia starts after putting herself together with a hidden smile. Presenting. About a 2 minutes speech, By rote. It seems to me that Julia didn´t knew what she is talking about. But I was wrong. Chatting with her was a pleasure, Julia his the master´s beloved puppet. They had just to struggle mostly with self-confidence to talk and to make mistakes.
I really appreciate the 90 minutes. Impressive and the most authentic look behind the curtain until now.
– God bless you.
And first time in my life that I accepted the nonsense phrase, by heart.
– Hope we will meet again.
I really do.
What a perfect nightlife!
Leaving tomorrow back North again.