Seeing Him, it’s Hard, to Not the Student. He’d Shaved His Head According to the Rules, with that Hint of Childishness in His Expressions, with that Scent of Naiveté about Him…………
- The Passionate Instructor Meeting Up with a Youth with Dreams
Even though I’d set out an hour earlier, the traffic still didn’t flow so well, I’d slowly, approached the Snow Mountain Tunnels, and I saw from my rearview mirror, Chang’s hands rubbing against each other, I can feel how nervous he was. This was, a big day for him, he’s getting married, and I, the “limo driver”.
Up to here, you must not know well, about my relationship with Chang………
Twenty-five years ago, he was in the second year of middle school, and I was his homeroom instructor, that, was the second year that I’d been teaching. Seeing him, it would be, hard, not to like him. He’d shaved his head as the rules dictated, with that hint of childishness on his face, with that down-to-earthness about him. As I’d stared at him, he’d always, scratched his head, with that smile, curling on his lips and it’s also because of his easy-going nature, that his classmates gave him a nickname Chang-Head (Chives), I’d told the rest of the class, to NOT pick on him because he was so easy going, then, everybody started calling him “Brother Chang”, and I’d called him that along with everybody in the class to this very day.
In those traditional days with seventy as the passing grade, writing took up seventy-percent of their total grade, Chang wasn’t at all articulate, and, he’d made less than ten points on his mock essay tests. The Chinese instructor came to me to talk about his grades, I looked at the page, not even written completely and taking away what he’d already said, there’s, less than half a page’s worth, and I was stressed out, on how to help me to become, more expressive too. I’d had an in-depth conversation with him, and learned, that his father is illiterate, that the pork stand at the marketplace was how the family survived, and his parents, always headed out, before light in the morn, to start on their busy day, they’d had little to no interactions, which made Chang so silent, but, watching his parents’ hardworking mannerisms, it’d made Chang learn how to be honest and down-to-earth too.
As I contemplated on how I can help him, there was, a vacant room at my rental place, I’d rented it from the landlord, to give Chang a home, and, I’d thought about how after the study hall session at school ended at nine, there are still, a dozen of students who’d wanted to continue to study, they could come over to study ‘til midnight. But, in the heat of the summer, without the air-conditioning, a dozen adolescents, crammed into that small space, it’s, NO joke, I’d installed a few lamps on the lanai, placed ice cubes in front of the fan, and set up the space into a comfortable study for my students.
As everybody was cramming hard, I’d added a few extra eggs to the extra serving of the school’s lunches, made it into fried rice, the group had, fought for the foods, like it was, something so delicious. As everybody went home, there was just me and Chang, I’d taken out the snacks, tried to get him to talk to me more to train his ability to speak. And, the hard work, eventually, paid off, he started doing better in his essays. And in July of that year, he’d gotten into Chenggong High School.
- Twenty-Five Years’ Worth of Student-Teacher Relationship Made Us More Like Father and Son
The college entrance exams that came three years later, I’d gone with him, to take the exams, hoped he could get into a good enough university. And, after the grades were posted, he’d told me, with great upset, that he’d not gotten into the school he’d wanted to get into. And, I’d, accompanied him, through a heated summer afternoon, he’d decided to retake the examinations, he’d moved in with me, and kept working on his studies. This year, he’d gone to the cram schools, and didn’t return until the midnight hours, and after he’d showered, it was, past midnight, and I can only use the small amount of time that we had together, to make some midnight snacks for him, to help him soothe his nerves by having a conversation with him. A year’s worth of hard work, and he’d, gotten into National Taiwan University.
Time surely did fly, twenty-five years passed, during which time, I got married, had children, went to Chang’s college graduation, his getting his master’s degree, to how he started serving his army term, shaved his head again, and shared with him, his joys of earning his doctorate. As my daughter was growing up and fell ill, couldn’t go to kindergarten, I’d once brought her to his home, asked him to babysit, and, my daughter started calling him, “Brother Chang”, just like the rest of us.
After we went to get the bride as we re-entered into the tunnel, the traffic flowed, much more smoothly now, and, came, a “thank you” from Chang, it’d, caught me off guard, but, I knew, that there was, this unknown sense of being moved inside of my heart. As we’d returned to his place, his father took my hand, thanked me for putting so much heart into his son, more than he had, how I’d loved Chang, as if, he were, my own child. I’d held tightly, to his rough, calloused hands, at that very moment, I couldn’t, speak, a word out at all……………
So, this, is the impact of a teacher on a student’s life, and, because this instructor looked out for this young man in his class, the student was grateful, and surpassed his middle school teacher’s expectations, and that just shows, how important the roles of school teachers are, they can help a student excel, making a huge difference, in the students’ lives, without even knowing it.