This I Believe
I teach English to people from all around the world and I have the best job ever. I believe this because of the people my job brings to me and because every day I go to work looking forward to what the day will bring.
Let me introduce my students. Xin is a woman in her 40’s who is from China. She has been here for 7 years and met her American husband during that time. Xin followed her ‘big dream’, came to Florida, moved to New York and then to Seattle only months before the terrorists attacks. Xin is not unlike the Lucy Ricardo character from that 50’s series: she makes us all laugh with the drama of her facial expressions. She can give you a glance with her eyes popped out like the bad guy on Roger Rabbit while her pursed lips at something distasteful put the lemon to shame.
Not to be outdone, Carlos has a dry sense of humor, telling everyone he’s from Guatemala and then slyly laughing when they believe him. Carlos is really from Mexico. He gets red-faced and flustered when asked to speak in front of class; his tongue-tied feeling is amplified by the fact that English is not what first comes to his mind. Still, he tries and we all encourage him. On one evening field trip to the museum I had the honor of watching him with 2 of his 4 daughters. Carlos is most certainly an excellent father, guiding them and standing with them as they go through life.
Bao is another man in our class. He’s almost 70 and has retired after a life of spooning out meat from sea urchins and, before that, fighting as a South Vietnamese soldier. He doesn’t hear or see well and he struggles to work with computers. One day, almost in spite of me, he learned to open the Internet, type in ‘yahoo.com’, and sign into his email. I felt triumphant but honestly it was his incredible accomplishment.
And the woman I try to emulate in her patient respect of Bao is Pong Song from Korea. Pong Song will always defer to him, never embarrass him and is ever helpful. She brought her 3 children here to get a good education in our public schools. Yes, here. She studies English to improve herself while she raises them, cooks fine meals and cleans in a way that I cannot begin to live up to.
The verb tenses of my students are imperfect. They pronounce ‘rice’ like ‘lice’ and sometimes we cannot understand each other at all. But they care deeply about each other, these four. And I care deeply about them. It is because of them that I believe I have the best job. It is because of their friendship with this American and with each other that I also believe we can have peace on Earth.
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