Monday, March 10, 2014

Saying "Hello" After Already Saying "Good-bye"

"I have made my final decision and am going to accept the offer of OSU these days..." 

Joy filled my heart this morning as I read these words in an email from a former student.

Q's first year of high school coincided with my first year of teaching (at the same high school). We both learned how to navigate new waters that year.

At first, Q was a very quiet student. He seldom spoke up in class and disliked most lessons that involved class participation. Most of that was due to the cultural differences between the Chinese and American teaching style and the fact that I was probably his only teacher who encouraged class participation to such an extent. This was, after all, an Oral English class. How were the students going to learn if I did most of the talking?

Q eventually warmed up and it wasn't long before he was not only participating in class but had become an "Office Hours Regular." Soon, he was excitedly signing up for our English Club Parties and coming over to our apartment with his friends to sample Mr. M's famous hamburgers and try his first bites of Mexican food. We learned that he loved anything with cheese. Oh, did he love cheese. He consumed it with such glee that it made those bike or subway rides to the import store completely worth it.

My husband and I got to know Q quite well during our three years at that high school. Our first year was Q's first year; our last year was Q's last year (high school is only a 3-year experience in China). When we attended that class's high school graduation ceremony, we watched with glassy eyes as thoughts about how hard it would be to say "good-bye" to so many beloved students raced through our minds.

And now, my heart can't quite contain its excitement as I learn that I will, once again, get to say "hello" to Q! My husband and I will likely pick him up from the airport in August after his first painstakingly long journey from China to the U.S. At the airport, we will welcome him with smiles (and of course, a glittery sign) not just to this country, or to this state, but back into our lives.


Update: After posting this blog, I checked my email and received a message from another student to share her news that she, too, was accepted to OSU! If I can't go back to Beijing anytime soon, maybe I can just convince all of my students to come here.