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Expatriate teacher's goal: have fun
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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 fun."

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 was overjoyed.

"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 wife.

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 said.

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)

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