“I’m so lucky to have meet you”
She said in a card.
She’d made it and decorated it herself, having painstakingly cut out a pop-up Christmas tree and pasted it to yellow construction paper. The card was in a small, handmade envelope, which was taped to what would turn out to be a box of Russel Stover’s chocolates, covered in cheery snowman wrapping paper. “Just a small thing…for Christmas!” she said, when she handed it to me. She dipped her head respectfully and put the box into my hands, and, giggling, ran back to her seat. I smiled, said “thank you,” and continued class, vowing to read the card later.
I could not have imagined the beautiful and heart warming words inside.
This student, who’s first language is not English, worked tirelessly throughout the semester to try and improve her writing and understanding of literature. Though she did not choose to speak out in class very often, she did make friends and found ways to participate in class without being the center of attention. Quiet, shy, and humble – and incredibly smart and gifted. She occasionally made a few English slip-ups here and there, but didn’t give herself nearly enough credit for her mastery of the language. “You taught me so much, about more than just literature. I learned about the society, too,” her card added. She only wished, she said, that she could do more to improve her language.
Ironically, the quirks in her speech were the parts I loved best about reading that card. That card reminded me that my job, which doesn’t pay me enough to afford all the things I think I deserve, does give me a strong sense of pride. I love my job, and it is seeing reminders like these – that what I’m doing has affected just one kid – that makes the small paycheck worthwhile. Incidentally, I got quite a few gifts this year – and many of them were from kids who were paying way more attention to me than I thought! There was the mini-cherry pie, given to me by a student who remembered how surprised I was at the tastiness of a pie she’d made for class, and that I declared that anything “mini” was automatically cuter. There was the traditional fan from the family of a student who would soon be moving back to Korea. And there was the Starbucks gift card from a kid who remembered how excited I had been about the new Starbucks built next to my apartment. Now if they only remembered this much about iambic pentameter, I’d be set!
As to the card/chocolates gift … I gave the chocolates to my husband, but I kept the card for myself as a reminder that what I do matters.
Now, to go couch-diving for spare change….