The following is an example of one of things I’ve learned during my time living and teaching in China.

“Button, button, whose got the button?”

When I arrived in China at the end of August I didn’t really know what to expect. Having never been abroad the decision to move — not visit, move — abroad was a little like jumping into the deep-end of the pool. During those first few days in China it was hot and humid. I wore shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops. It was heavenly.

As we were driving through the heat of the city I noticed a man with his shirt up over his belly. The only time I’ve seen men with their shirts tied-up has been for Halloween or in movies. Never in real life. So this was odd to me.

Then I saw another man with his shirt up over his belly. Then a second and third and a forth man! What was going on here? Heat was going on here. It was hot out. The men wanted to cool down.

On a walk one afternoon I saw a man approaching on a scooter with his shirt up and over his stomach. That wasn’t new. In fact, I was used to seeing this act now. However, as he passed I saw something — or rather, didn’t see something

This Chinese man didn’t have a belly button!

Obviously, I did the next logical thing: got out my jump to conclusions mat. Using the pinpoint accuracy of the mat to help me reach the proper conclusion I learned that all Chinese men don’t have belly buttons.

For roughly a week I was convinced that the men in China didn’t have belly buttons. I didn’t know how or why, but I thought they didn’t have ‘em. Until I saw a man with a belly button. That helped clear things up a LOT.

Upon researching the idea that people don’t have belly buttons, I learned that it’s a thing — some people don’t have belly buttons.

Look at all you’ve learned already today! That’s something to get excited about!

…and so is this:


Michael VenskeMICHAEL VENSKE is an expert mistake-maker whose faith and enthusiasm cause him to leap without looking. One such jump landed him in China where he’s currently teaching kindness, compassion, and the fine art of physical comedy.

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About Michael Venske

Since 2012 Michael Venske has been teaching English in Zibo, Shandong, China. When not in the classroom he's busy writing his next solo performance endeavor chronicling (mis)adventures in The People’s Republic of China.
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