Home travel The camera effect.

The camera effect.

December 5, 2012
Let’s talk about a phenomenon – a phenomenon so dang real that I’m surprised it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page all about it. (Side note. Wikipedia. How great is it, though? And when are people going to come around to it being a credible source for papers…? I say this like I don’t go in and change information periodically and facts on funny whims daily. Oh. Mark Twain wasn’t initially a woman? WHOOPS.) Anyway.
The phenomenon I’d like to discuss, is the camera effect.

Something wild happens to Chinese children when a camera comes into play. They just go NUTS. No matter how many times I bring my camera to class, it’s like the first time, every time. There’s the kid who involuntarily screams, like I have literally just showed up to class with a centaur or something of the caliber. This clues everyone else into the fact that there is a personal camera with full battery in the building. Note: This is like a bomb warning, or one of those gunman drills you did in elementary school where you’d just shut down and figure out the best place to hide. Except in this case, there’s no protocol. Just pandemonium. And rather than hide, oh, how you want to be seen. You’ll crawl over desks, classmates, ANYTHING, to reach the focal point of the picture being taken. It’s every man for himself at this point.

So, generally speaking, this first kid who screams in joy… he’s actually going to shut down and look totally miserable in the realization of the photo he begged for. He’s going to look extremely put-upon and also going to tap into Basic Acting 101 to feel what it’s like to have every childhood dream/dog of his, DEAD all in one single moment. And this seems to be a pattern. They beg for the photo, and then don’t even smile when it is taken… so… all right. FINE. Sorry I’m alive, kids. And the thing is, when you show him the picture after… he’s still going to be thrilled with it. 

The classic peace sign makes continuous appearances. Also, the begging for a photo and then looking dead, like in all the black-and-white textbook photos from prairie times, seems to stay a common theme.


Poses evolve from abrupt and irrational conversations about muscles and Americans being strong (probably brought on by the camera effect).
The first picture is never enough/some kids are always in the way, so a second picture is insisted on. It’s less enthusiastic and seems to fit the ticket much better. But why, though? It’s the same picture, but they all feel convinced they look SO much better.
Then comes the flashback to the part of the Thanksgiving lesson where we acted like turkeys. (Yes. THIS is the stuff they remember from my lessons.) So we forget about cameras and start taking turns “flying.”  Tickling gets thrown in and some nice candids ensue. 🙂
And then FINALLY one of the boys caves to peer pressure and agrees to – gasp – TOUCH the female foreign teacher in a picture. (This is fifth grade, people. All the compositions from the boys say, “I don’t like girls. I like boys.” Okay, then.) They all act horrified but once the first kid does it, then all my sassy boys want a hug and a piggy-back. They’re not as tough as they let on.
At this point, we settle down and have some semblance of a class. And they’re all giggly and over-eager from the camera effect for the entire half hour.
And then, when class is done, there is just enough battery left from their shenanigans to capture this:
The tiny, humble gift, or gifts, of thanks that always come. The little tender mercies that remind me just exactly why I am here, and just exactly how close my Chinese kids are to Heavenly Father.
I never knew tiny Anime cat erasers could have such an effect on my heart. But really? They do.

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1 comment

Andrea December 10, 2012 at 11:10 am

So darling!


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