I descented from the great white north. The land of the polar bears and maple trees as the locals like to say, where water is plentiful and the winter’s are bone chillingly cold. Growing up I was referred to as a Banana by my fellow Communist countrymen from China or a Twinkie by my Canuck buddies. I thought living in such a harsh environment would have prepared me for what I was about to face, but boy was I wrong. I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I decided to enlist and join Cambly. From the description of the website, the responsibilities seemed like a piece of cake. I mean, just chat and have a conversation with someone who was eager to learn how to speak English. What could go wrong?
I remember the first day when I was thrust right into the action. The Cambly bell rang loudly, echoing into my ears through the earpiece I had wore. I eagerly clicked on the student who was requesting a tutor. Then all of a sudden the screen turned black. I waited in suspense as two windows popped out of no where. Then to my horror staring right at my face was the “STUDENT“. His glare was so intense that I felt it pierce into my soul. What was I suppose to do? My mind blanked for a few seconds but I quickly snapped out of my trance. I opened my mouth and the words “Hi, how are you?” came out. The student was able to understand me and asked me back the same question. I answered and followed it up with more questions to get the ball rolling but it was no use. His command of the English language was too poor for us to communicate effectively. I was quickly losing the battle. Then I remembered reading something on the resource page of Cambly, some sort of guideline and flowchart if you will. I quickly bounced back and started firing off basic questions to him. His eyes starting to dilate and light up. I looked at his remaining minutes. He still had a whole 60 seconds left. I continued to hammer and plough through relentlessly as the clock counted down. 5….4….3….2…1. I was able to push back his boredom long enough until his minutes ran out. I leaned back into my chair and wiped the sweat off my forehead and blew a sign of relief. I had survived my first shift!
I knew from that moment onwards that this war was not going to be easy. The students would come in all shapes and sizes. Some would be friendly and nice, while others cold blooded and cut throat. I knew I had to develop grit and thick skin if I was to make it out of this alive. This blog chronicles my journey from fresh out of the academy private to veteran ESL commander. I hope this blog will be of some use for others considering enlisting in Cambly.