I love looking at the facebook posts you send. I like to see the new pictures that keep me up on what you’re doing in your life, but I think I enjoy it even more when you repost an old picture because it gets me to thinking of how we were.
The Way We Were is one of my favorite movies, and most of you know that I often teach English Thru Film – partly because I love movies. Anyway, in this Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand romance, the two meet years after going to college together. And they reminisce about how much each of them has changed. Great movie. You should see it.
And it reminds me of you, my students, and how you make my life worth living.
Those of you at CSUSM may have noticed the posters all over asking WGYLM – What Gives Your Life Meaning? It’s an interesting question isn’t it? I’ve been pondering it all week. I’ve asked my Speaking class to consider this question as the topic for their next talk. And I’d encourage all of you to consider it – if just for a moment.
My first thought was my family. My second thought was my students. In so many ways, you give my life meaning. You have given my life meaning for the last 20 years when I left a high-powered (and high paying???) business position to begin teaching ESL.
My very first class was a crazy mix of cultures and creatures. One man was an Israel Jew who celebrated his 50th birthday with us. Shalom! Next to him sat a young Saudi Arab who wasn’t old enough to drink – even if he’d wanted to. Inshallah! Around the table sat several ladies. One young Japanese girl was engaged to an American. A Korean woman of the same age was very traditional and would not have dated an American for all the tea in China. Speaking of, one woman in her mid-twenties was from the People’s Republic and bore herself very regally. Her father was some very high official. And next to her sat a slightly older woman who had immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan and was busy raising a family here.
By all accounts, we should have been at each other’s throats, but we weren’t. We laughed and teased and struggled together. I’d hosted many exchange students who were the first to show me that culture didn’t matter all that much. And these folks in my first class proved it. I’d long suspected that we, the human creatures, are much more alike than different and they showed me how true that is as you continue to do – every day. Sure, I know it’s fun for the Brazilians to hang out with others from Brazil, but I saw how many cried when several of their Japanese friends went home last year.
Yesterday, at the International Fair, we came together to share our differences. What a concept. What fun.
It’s true that I am a child of the 60s when our motto was “Make Love Not War.” And I suppose to some extent, I’ve held onto that, but it has been you - my students - who have taught me how very precious relationships are. How special each moment can be. And I’m writing this to thank you – publicly – for the privilege of being in your lives even for a moment. And I hope that you will always remember me and the way we were.