As the weeks progress, my classroom humiliations don’t disappear so much as take on subtler forms. I arrive one morning during my second month to find two kids facing the wall. I ask Coach Zhang why. “They were being stupid,” he says. After several minutes, they receive the second part of their punishment: They are forced to drill with me.

Chris used to absolutely embarrass me at ping-pong, so this terrifically engrossing account of his training in Beijing is just delightful. Also, the picture.

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