... in Jesus Christ on the blackboard

Published on 25 Dec 2020
A blackboard with a Christmas decoration across it

Among other things, I teach what is called English “Oral Communication” as a mandatory subject for non-English speakers at a university in a non-Christian country. I am supposed to use a certain text book, but am happy to put it aside and give preference to our personal here and now when appropriate, and Christmas is one such time.

Precisely because I do not subordinate to textbooks, I am always curious to see what the students make  of the content of classes and never more so than what Buddhist-Shintoists might make of Christmas. And among the students, there might be the odd one who previously attended a Catholic high school.

My lessons are simple, entailing the students brainstorming vocabulary, my glossing it, perhaps discussion on the subject, Q & A or whatever, depending on what they can manage in the time.

This year, as previously, the students’ key Christmas words reflected the commercial Christmas they know and live, including “Christmas Eve in a hotel with a lover ” (a custom  launched by the hotel industry), light-hearted American songs such as “Santa Claus is coming to town”, Kentucky fried chicken and “Christmas cake”, with whipped cream and strawberries, for the colour, Christmas being the start of the strawberry season here, even though it goes against the seasons elsewhere.

In my glossing of their words, among other things, I taught them the distinction between “secular” like “Santa Claus is coming to town...”, and the sacred, like the carol “Silent Night” which they all know in their mother tongue, and sang.

Since it came up in all my classes, I learned their word for “reindeer”.

And so, my last class of the year was about to finish, when a student walked purposefully up to the board, took the chalk and right in the middle, wrote, 

“Jesus Christ”, and Christ was with us.