If you plan to create something new, learn something you don’t know, change your life in any big or small way – I believe you must practice perseverance. To persevere is to remain steadfast and focused on your goal despite difficulties, tragedies and obstacles in your new endeavor and to persist in that steadfast focus when even faith may falter. In its essence perseverance is self-will – the ability to experience and understand what you did not know before.
In my ESL and Speech classes at Pierce Junior College, I have many wonderful students. They are people endeavoring to learn on an uphill slope. The demands put upon the adult learner are greater than those of the traditional high school to university student. My students may lack support, knowledge, training, and finances or carry extra burdens and duties. I tell them they are courageous, because they are. I tell them to persevere, as they may have done already, and that they will reach their goals. When I think of my students struggling willingly to learn how to do an oral presentation or the quirks of U.S. English pronunciation, grammar and idioms, I recognize my job is in part to acknowledge their perseverance. Perseverance comes from the soul.
Perseverance is not easy. For example, when my husband first came to the United States at fifteen-years old, he came illegally from Mexico. He wanted to live and work here. He wanted to become a U. S. citizen. He loved the United States, its culture, and its people. So on a dark moonless night he swam. He first had to swim against a tide that pulled him back to Mexico and the way he had done things before, after a while there was no tide and he drifted in an unknown place where he was unsure of where he was in the universe itself, then another tide pulled him in another direction and he rode it to the new shore – letting the waters move him farther from what he knew and closer to what he wanted, but didn’t fully know. Swimming against the tide was hard Mexico pulled him back many times and his faith faltered, swimming with the new tide was frightening he knew this new place would make many unknown demands upon him, but in that moment in the dark when there was no tide my husband traversed an abyss. Only his self-will, his perseverance enabled him to make the final commitment for the change he desired. He called upon that perseverance many more times in the years that followed. He learned how to speak English and worked in lettuce fields. He learned various trades and applied for his green card. Soon my husband will be a citizen of the United States. I am proud of him.
Sometimes I tell my students the story about my husband’s journey. I want them to know I understand what they must do to succeed. We all must know when we set out on such journeys – that perseverance is necessary. I also think our perseverance should be acknowledged. As a teacher, I am deeply moved by the perseverance my students exhibit. I think through perseverance, we connect with our souls.
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