REUNION (AtoZAprilChallenge)

a-zchallengeAlthough I currently face many frustrations in my work, I love the teaching that I do. I get great joy from helping people express themselves. In my current position, that often means encouraging students to discover ways to express themselves in English, even when they lack the confidence to try. For example, I often hear students say, “Teacher, my English is poor.” I finally realized that I heard it far too often, and many of the students who said it actually had English speaking ability that was quite good. So I finally challenged them to change what they said, AND I made them rehearse it with me before they got away. Now, I have them say, “My English is pretty good, and it’s going to keep getting better because I will keep practicing.” It’s great to see their faces light up when they go through rehearsing that response.
One of the biggest joys of teaching is when a former student goes out of their way to visit me. This was the case last Friday when I had a reunion with Jessica, a bio-technology student I had in a required English class three years ago. She was a junior at that time. She is now completing her Master’s degree doing work in cell biology. She will graduate in June and has just completed the oral interview for continuing for her PhD.
What is especially touching about these photos is that she brought her graduation garb from home because she wanted pictures of me with her. She told me, “I didn’t get any pictures with you when I graduated from Ming Chuan, so I want to have a graduation picture with you now.”
When she posted the above picture on Facebook, she wrote the following:
Last Friday, I visited my favorite teacher, Deb Kraklow.
We haven’t seen for a long time.
We prepared pasta salad for our dinner together.
I am very pleased to be able to see her again because she always gave me encouragement and gave me a chance to speak English.
We chatted about our lives and I explained what I studied in my graduate school totally in English.
I was afraid to speak English before.
But now, although only in simple sentences, I can tell her what my research is.
If I had not met her, I’m still a girl who afraid to speak English.
I really appreciate her.

And I really appreciate Jessica. I couldn’t believe it when she told me during dinner that she wanted to try to explain her research to me in English. Jessica’s research examines the link between type I diabetes and osteoporosis and explores alternative treatments methods that could someday help treat both diseases. As you can imagine, explaining all of that in English is quite a challenge, but we worked together to piece it all together, and it turned out great. She was excited about it, and I encouraged her to think about trying to pursue writing her research in English as well to get even more exposure. I can’t wait to see if she tries. Of course, I’ll be willing to help her if she does.

One more fun fact. Because of her Facebook post, a couple other students have approached me about a reunion. I only taught English to the biotechnology majors here for two years, but it’s a special group to me. In a few days, I may be sharing another reunion experience I had a year and a half ago, with a group of biotechnology students from my first year here. In addition, I have a couple posts planned for next month that tell about my birthday celebrations in Taiwan. Two of them feature biotechnology students. AND Jessica is already working on a plan for my birthday next month.

Even without the birthday plan, I will always have the lovely memories of a week ago when Jessica visited me and shared an evening of reminiscing and research. There are many students who will always be part of my life, and Jessica is definitely one who will always have a special place in my heart.



26 comments on “REUNION (AtoZAprilChallenge)

  1. The memories of adored students are wonderful, aren’t they? When I run into one, I can never get over how grown they are! But I am always happy to find they’re just as pleasant now 🙂
    I hope Jessica will always stay in touch with you!

    • Thanks! I’m pretty sure Jessica will keep in touch. She was actually disappointed when I told her I would be returning to the US in another year. She wants to invite me to her wedding. But that won’t happen for about three years. I told her, she could still invite me. I just can’t predict whether or not I can make the trip. But just the possibility made her happy. 🙂

    • I just ran across a picture that Jessica had taken of the two of us and other other student back in 2011 when she was in my class. It’s so fun. 🙂

  2. What you’re doing is amazing! I am applauding you right now for your work and dedication. I would love to see my favorite English teachers from high school and let them know that I am an author now. They always supported my writing and I think they’d feel proud knowing they helped me. 🙂

    • It’s rewarding because I learned a while back that it’s important to let people know how much they help you while you still can. As a result, I’ve had some interesting encounters with teachers. Often, my notes or visits happened on a day when the teacher needed a boost. And my message just showed up. The Friday reunion with Jessica was much like that. I was having a horrible day, and her visit changed the whole perspective. She also had some new networks that are proving to be helpful in dealing with the issues I had. The investment that people are willing to make in education and growing is amazing. It makes up for those who just go through the motions for the sake of a degree.

    • Thanks, Christy. I really love helping people find what they’re passionate about and then going for it. It’s always exciting when the connection is made. I’m so happy to be part of it. Even though there are often aggravations, stories like Jessica make it all worth while. 🙂

    • Thanks, Janna! I really do love teaching and helping people find the spark that excites them and then motivates them to fulfill their dreams.

    • Thanks, Silvia! The really fun part is that she is now planning a zoo trip for us along with two other students from that class. I will get to catch up with them as well.

    • Thanks! It’s interesting, too, how it just takes a few who really get it to make up for the number who really don’t care and just want to pass the course. Then a “Jessica” comes along and reminds me why I do it all. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. This post really made me smile. Yay! for Jessica and for you. Congratulations on making such a difference to your students.

    • Thanks so much! Those special students always seem to know the right time to come along and touch my heart. There is nothing quite as wonderful as seeing their dreams and passions come alive when they realize that something is important to them. Even though she had many classes before, she was never really motivated to speak the language until we had class together. When she was able to describe her research to me in English, I was so moved.

    • Thanks, Elaine! Sometimes, the non-teaching tasks get to be a bit much, but when I can spend time with students and help them make discoveries about life and about themselves–well, there’s nothing quite like it. 🙂

    • I have to tell you, Charlotte, I’ve seen it work both ways. As a student, every time I took the time to let a teacher know that they had made a difference in my life, it was so moving. And now, as a teacher myself, I can attest to the power of letting someone know when they have an impact. And that impact goes beyond teachers. I’m a firm believer in letting people know. Continued success to you in all your endeavors. 🙂

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