Mr. Sai is a British teacher who teaches environmental design at my university.
By the time they reach university, most students have lost the attachment they had when they were young to their teachers, replaced by respect and a strange sense of distance. The teacher is no longer a teacher, but a professor, a teacher. of course there are exceptions. As long as you meet a cheerful student or an enthusiastic teacher, this sense of distance will be broken. However, Mr. Sai is not very active, and I am not a cheerful student. To me, Mr. Sai, has a feeling that the friendship between gentlemen is as light as water. From his core, Mr. Sai has a bit of dry humor, a bit of childishness, a bit of academic rigor, a bit of humility and humility, coupled with his enthusiasm for the design discipline, these are his strengths. In short, Mr. Sai is an extremely real Mr. Sai in my heart, and he is a very lovely person.
Mr. Sai’s name, if translated into Chinese, is Samuel Payne. There are a lot of repetitions in the English name. If I write it out for now, if he knows it, he won’t blame me. In fact, the only time I remember him showing any signs of anger was correcting the pronunciation of his name to us. On the first day we met him, we read Sam or Sam recklessly for the entire class. He corrected me, my name is Samuel, not Samuel. I completely forgot what his expression was like at that time. Now that I think about it, it may have been serious. I was born to be afraid of teachers, but I don’t remember it at all, and I don’t want to remember it, because I know him well enough now, and he is strict but not serious.
We called him Samuel, not the teacher, not Mr. Payne. When Chinese students learn English from an early age, the first lesson is addressing them. Therefore, I know that the most correct and rigorous name for Mr. Sai is Mr. Payne, but no one calls him that, and I guess he is not used to it. I’ll call him Samuel. If we were just passing by each other and I saw him but he didn’t see me, I wouldn’t say hello specifically. Every time this happens, I just shout from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Sai. “Sir” is the title that the Chinese used to call teachers in the past.
Mr. Sai has been teaching us for a year and a half. However, from the time we met him, it was more than half a year before we actually met him. He was always on the other side of the screen. Samuel, who appeared on the screen with only half a body, is already a permanent memory, and it is destined to be a very unique memory for me. How old he is, I can’t tell. I can’t see clearly whether he has wrinkles or whether he has gray hair. He might be in his forties, or in his thirties, or in his fifties, who knows! Forgive me for using such unreliable language to describe him, because this is the real Mr. Sai who is engraved deep in my memory.
In fact, at that time, there were two Mr. Sai in my heart. One was on the screen, frozen and blurred; the other was in the chat column, fresh and vivid, made up of flowing words. I got along more with the second Mr. Sai. Because Mr. Sai on the screen only appears in class twice a week, but Mr. Sai in the chat column can appear at any time. He will answer your every greeting, sincere, boring, and ridiculous. At most, answer slower. After all, there is an eight-hour time difference between us. So I often calculated the time to find him, and I left him a message at twelve o’clock in the middle of the night. In class, you said that the dispersion of light would be very interesting in a model. I thought about refraction and reflection, but they are all regular. What if the square shape becomes a model that is needed for this course and is worn on the body?
He said it’s your bed time, you should rest, I won’t tell you. I will tell you my thoughts tomorrow at eight o’clock China time. Please believe me, it will definitely work.
Of course I believe him. He would never say, “You did a great job,” in the exaggerated, open language that I thought foreigners and Westerners should have. Mr. Sai will only say, please keep doing it, I will help you when you need me. The next day, he actually told me about the idea of putting the sun in a box at eight o’clock, which is midnight British time. In this course, I finally made a physical model of small hole imaging, which was greatly inspired by Mr. Sai.
I often feel that in Mr. Sai’s heart, I am also split into two parts, one is the blurry shadow on the screen whose face cannot be seen clearly, and the other is the old-fashioned person in the chat box who “greets” him every day. And strange model. Until one class, I suddenly received a private message, of course from Mr. Sai. He said, I see you and your model, please keep doing it. I was shocked, he recognized me. I had little hope that he would recognize my appearance. I was a bit fat at the time, always wore a pair of bulky black-rimmed glasses, and never dressed myself up like other girls. Coupled with the lack of imagination and weak professional ability, I have low self-esteem from the bottom of my heart. Although, because my English level is good enough to communicate with him, I am more active in class. That was just an act, not me. Mr. Sai suddenly sent me such a sentence. I was a little excited and panicked. I still don’t believe that he remembered me from that time. What he remembered was the model in the chat column. I can’t be wrong.
Asking myself, I am one of the students who “greeted” Mr. Sai the most. The reason is probably that I am a relatively slow person. I couldn’t figure out the professional direction and the homework requirements. I don’t understand why he draws an axonometric drawing instead of a perspective drawing, why he wants planes, why he doesn’t want light and shadow, why he never says, what should I do, why I just have to do it again and again, and overturn it again and again. This course, without a specific direction, has no possibility of getting it right in one go. Once he asked me to go to the roadside to find four pillars to draw. I drew it and sent it to him, and got a few links and a bunch of text. The general meaning was that there was no need for such detailed description. He wanted something flat, with a condensed structure, and without perspective. I erased the details and sent it to him again, and he said, look at what I said earlier. So I changed it a day and got the same text and link as a day ago. He is not trying to deal with me. I guess there are too many people who have made the same mistake. He saw it once and forwarded it once, but he has forgotten how many times I have looked for him. It was a week before I understood his request and transformed the details into geometric shapes. I don’t know how many times he sent me the same message during this period! I said, teacher, please read the previous dialogue, you will laugh. He laughed when he saw it.
Too many similar things have happened. For example, he asked me to use two pictures to layout twenty pages, and I chopped up the pictures and arranged them. He said, just use the complete picture. I zoomed in and out of the picture. Don’t change the size, he said. I finished twenty pages in a daze, and he said, pick one, pick the one you like best. I know that we often go to a lot of trouble on a seemingly simple thing, because Mr. Se will not tell you what you should do. I know he’s guiding. Sometimes, his rigor can be annoying. This is a very contradictory feeling that I can’t explain.
I’m used to Mr. Sai appearing on the screen, so I hope he doesn’t come over, really. When he is away, I can choose to ignore his strict requirements. The mortise and tenon structure he wanted, I didn’t make it delicate, so I could retouch it; he wanted it to be a tight fit, so I fixed it with glue, and when I took the photo, I couldn’t tell that it was a fool’s errand. If I don’t understand my homework, I can leave him a message. I’ll ask nonchalantly, and he’ll answer nonchalantly. After more than ten rounds, I can always understand. If he is on the other side of the screen, I will not be afraid of him. If he comes, I may be afraid. I am afraid that when I do not do well, when I make stupid test models, he will be watching next to me. But, he finally came. The moment I saw him, the stop-motion animated Mr. Se and the text-filled Mr. Se quickly merged into one. I think that when he saw me, he would also compare those clumsy models and the lines that had been corrected time and time again with this silly girl in front of him. Because I know that Mr. Sai is a very smart man.
Mr. Sai is not as tall as I thought, his eyes are bluer than I thought, and I still can’t tell his age. From then on we had the opportunity to talk face to face. The first “formal” conversation with Mr. Sai, to express it truly, unfortunately, still happened in a dialogue box. If I really wanted to face him, I wouldn’t be able to say so many words. That’s a letter, handwritten. I wrote it in English, which is already poor, so now I can only roughly translate it:
Hi Samuel, sorry to bother you. This is the first time I communicate with you this semester. In fact, I should be the most anxious among all my classmates because I don’t really like design. I am an extremely quiet person after class, although I am cheerful during class. I want to study history in the future. But I know that I chose design at this stage, and I don’t regret it. I must try my best to learn. Sorry I talked too much.
The assignment this time was to find and analyze a favorite meeting space in school. I searched all over the school but couldn’t find one that I was really satisfied with. I finally returned to my original idea – the lawn for drying quilts on the first floor of the dormitory. I often sit there and read, there are connected corridors, columns and benches. What I’m afraid of is whether it will be too spacey, whether it won’t be interesting enough, and whether my ideas will always be rigid and rigid, and whether it will have an impact on the later stages. Now that all my worries are over, can you give me some advice?
When I wrote these words, I had already finished the analysis drawings and sent them to him. I knew that Mr. Sai would point out some problems and new directions for me to do, but he didn’t. He told me something else.
He said, I think it’s good that you have more sensibility, and it might be of great use in the future.
He also said, if you like history, do you like architecture? There are many ancient buildings in China.
I said, maybe what I like is just reading and summarizing literature.
He said, it seems that, unfortunately, our research is not in the same direction.
Perhaps, it was the first time I talked to him about something other than design, and Mr. Sai was very curious. He asked me about my feelings about literature and history, which are different from design. Later, when he communicated with me again, his perspective also changed.
Mr. Se said, Did you find that what you were looking for, your favorite place, was the boundary between two different spaces – the laundry room and the lawn. Those two pillars are actually the appraisers of spatial boundaries. We all like places like this, people like boundaries and they like to gather at the boundaries of space.
I said, thank you for telling me these rules. I always thought that design requires wild imagination, but I don’t have it.
Mr. Sai said that design serves people. Design is the most logical thing.
Our online communication almost stopped here.
That day, we drew an analysis diagram of a lesson, which was very realistic. But Mr. Se didn’t want it. He wanted real analysis, the angle of the sunlight, the direction of the flow of people. He wanted directional arrows and text, so he was disappointed by our delicacy, realism, and perspective. But he didn’t say that he was disappointed. He said, let me think about it again and what to do. Differences in Chinese and Western cultures and language communication barriers will cause some communication problems. Mr. Sai needs to find more ways to get along with us. Maybe it was in the first second after class that I understood what he wanted and his loss. So I redrawn it and sent it to him. Mr. Fortress knew that I didn’t do well, but he taught me very well. He doesn’t need to feel any loss.
From then on, I rarely left messages for Mr. Sai because I saw him every day.
Mr. Sai said, I know, your name is Ruo, right?
I said, yes. My classmates all like to call me an English name, but Mr. Sai doesn’t know it. He only remembered my Chinese name.
Mr. Sai said, we didn’t understand the program you performed at the party yesterday, but we laughed. What is that kind of performance called?
I said, cross talk.
right. But why are you different from usual? You are so quiet in my class, even though Mr. Duncan said you are very talkative. Why are you afraid of me? Why aren’t you afraid of him? He’s handsomer than me, right?
No, he is not as handsome as you. I am not afraid of you. You are very good.
I know, I’m fine. Mr Sai said.
I have definitely changed, I speak less and less, just in Mr. Sai’s class. I don’t need to pretend to be lively, I’m a quiet person, and Mr. Se knows that. Maybe, I haven’t changed at all, I just unconsciously showed my truest self. Mr. Se also often brings us his most authentic things that will never appear on the screen.
Mr. Sai was holding a cup of coffee in one hand and making a devil’s claw motion with the other hand, trying to scare me from behind. But he failed and spilled the coffee. He had no choice but to search outside, find a mop, and clean up the mess.
Why are you so quiet? Mr. Sai asked me as he mopped the floor.
This is my truest character. I said. Why are you scaring me?
This is also my truest character. Mr. Sai said, you are quiet, but you are also an excellent designer.
I’m not, I don’t like design.
But, I have to try my best to be the best I can be, because this is my major.
You always say that and I wonder why. You don’t have to do your best all the time, and you might as well, don’t have to do a great job. Mr Sai said.
There are too many naughty and reserved things in my personality, but Mr. Sai doesn’t have that. Mr. Sai is also rigorous and cheerful. He adapts to each person’s personality in different ways. I knew how to stand up when I saw him, so he stood up too; I knew how to salute and say hello, so he bowed to me too; when he told me about drawings, he stood and insisted that I sit down and listen. I said, I am also standing.
So, how about we sit on the ground? Mr Sai said. How could he come up with such a weird idea, but he won. Finally, we sat on the floor and talked about the drawings.
Sometimes I wonder if it is because I have weaker professional abilities that I have received more attention from Mr. Sai. Actually no. Mr. Sai gave everyone special care because everyone is special, including himself.
I sincerely hope that Mr. Sai can guide me for four years in college. In college, having one teacher to take care of me for four years is a luxury. At the end of the last semester, I felt that Mr. Se was likely to leave my course, so I wrote this sentence in English: Mr. Samuel Payne is not a passer-by in my life, but a very important person. Because he taught me design, he also taught me life. He taught me to be the architect of my life.
Mr. Sai came to our class again. He said, I am no longer the teacher in charge of this course, but I am still your teacher. I said, I hope you will be my forever teacher.
I know, you wish. Mr Sai said.
I am still in college, so all the memories about Mr. Sai are fresh. I wondered if Mr. Se would have blurred and disappeared if time had dragged on longer. So I wrote this article. But I know, absolutely not. I really remember all the teachers in my life and all the people who helped me. The longer the day goes by, the more fresh it becomes.
Mr. Se, Mr. Samuel Payne, Mr. Payne, you are my very good teacher and a very good person. I hope you won’t forget me, of course, it doesn’t matter if you forget. Because, I will never forget you.
Mr. Sai is a British teacher who teaches environmental design at my university.