Born into a traditional Christian family in Missouri, the United
States, Nathan Rooffener, in the eyes of Zhang Xu, his wife of 11
years, is an ideal husband whose primary goal in life is to "have
The 37-year-old seemed to have a special talent for having fun
even though he says he is a "shy" man and always "nervous" when
talking to adult strangers.
But facing kids, he says he is completely relaxed.
With five years of teaching experience in his home country,
Rooffener is quite busy in Shenzhen with about 40 classes each
week, teaching students aged from 5 to 15 at different schools. But
such a heavy schedule doesn't stop him having fun.
"I love being with my students," he said, adding that his
teaching methods were always accompanied by fun activities.
As Christmas approached, he took a box of candy to one of his
classes. "Say a word about Christmas and you can get a candy. No
repetition is allowed," he told his students. Of course, the class
"Have fun"is not only Rooffener's goal, but also what he expects
of his two daughters, aged 10 and 2.
He doesn't expect his daughters to have high academic records.
Instead, he just wants them to be happy, a sentiment echoed by his
Even when it came to the subtle issues concerning different
cultural backgrounds and living habits between him and his wife,
Rooffener said these were not problems. "She does things the
Chinese way and I do them the American way. That's all," he
Easy going, as Rooffener is, he does have his principles.
"Manners first," he said when talking about educating his
daughters and students alike.
"Many Chinese children are spoiled. At home, it's okay if you
shout, cry, scream, jump ... but outside, you should show manners,"
he said. His remarks were again echoed by his wife.
Having met each other almost 12 years ago in the United States,
the couple settled in Shenzhen because of Zhang's work. Rooffener
quickly became accustomed to Shenzhen "where everything is
growing." They bought an apartment a few months ago after deciding
to live here for the long term.
"Life is easy in Shenzhen. You can order home delivery any time,
which is much more convenient than the service in the United
States,"Rooffener said, seemingly satisfied with everything in
Shenzhen, including taxi drivers who are often at the top of
expatriates' complaint list.
"They are lovely, often chatting with me when I get in their
cars. Very funny!"he said.
(Shenzhen Daily December 26, 2007)