Free lunch or bad karma

Some of my adult students give me little presents when they leave my class to ‘take a rest’ or when I go back to America on vacation. Usually nothing expensive, but very thoughtful. Has anyone else had this happen? It think it’s sweet, but am I supposed to return the favor somehow? Do my adorable students secretly resent me because I never invite them out for coffee or bring them souveniers from america? Have I acquired some kind of negative guanxi balance that will come due when I least expect it? Am I thinking too much?

Almost every one of my classes has taken myself and my wife out for lunch or tea, at the end of the course. Some students have given me cards or small gifts.

I’ve learned that they are the ones apparently fulfilling the cultural obligation, and I’m not expected to do anything in return. This is tough to take, because it goes against my grain, but actually responding in kind only complicates the situation.

Thank them and let it settle. Sure, maybe bring them a little something from the US, that would be good. But you don’t need to give them something every time they give you something.

I have often gotten gifts and have been taken out to dinner on many occasions from students. I usually return the favor buy opting to buy drinks or dessert after. I usually treat my classes to ice cream and drinks. So i think it is mutual thing. I think students feel honored to show their teacher how much they appreciate their teaching. I think this is all fine as long as it isn’t anything too expensive.