My First Tutoring Gig… in the Age of Zoom

My First Tutoring Gig… in the Age of Zoom

The first week of shelter-in-place, an old friend of mine who lives in Beijing reached out to me and asked if I was interested in a part-time gig teaching English. A friend of hers was looking for an online English instructor for her 7-year-old son, who was out of school for the rest of the year.

At the time, I had no idea how my life in quarantine would be shaped. I was supposed to be working on a grant and a paper as part of my day job as a scientist, but I’d already wasted a few days lying on my porch staring at the clouds. I remembered a theme from one of my favorite books, Gao Xingjian’s Soul Mountain : even when living under a cruel, authoritarian regime, the oppression of loneliness often outweighs the oppression of society. In quarantine, all the excitement I previously had for the PhD I was going to start in August had faded, simply–I don’t know–because I was alone?

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