I now refer to them as Action Jackson and Cool Joel — attributed to the fact that whenever they present their speeches, Jackson would always be animated and energized whereas Joel was just too cool for school–calmly sharing his side of the story with that quiet yet strong demeanor of a real man.
As a teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of different students throughout the years. I’d have to say I’ve been rather fortunate as I’ve really come to appreciate ALL of my students in many different ways. It’s been quite exciting to see a strange mix of personalities in one room.
While I love all of my students equally, I’d like to give special mention to two young boys who’ve kind of uplifted me during one of the most trying months (teaching-wise) I’ve had in a long while.
First off, I was just asked as a favor to tutor these two boys for one month as they were just staying for a brief break from their school in China. Being a person who could barely say no to anything, I had agreed. I was kind worried as I knew I already had too much stuff on my plate at the moment. At times, I just felt like not going… I was missing out on dinners with friends and sometimes, I was just such in a bad mood from work that all I wanted to do was go home and sleep it off. Nevertheless, I managed to find time to spend two hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with them. I had made a commitment and that was that.
Lo and behold, each day, these two kids managed to bring a smile to my face. I surely didn’t expect it but they kind of changed my opinion of young Korean kids or young boys in general. Jackson and Joel are probably two of the nicest, smartest, and most respectful guys their age today. I don’t say this because of the way they would talk to me. I say this because of how they simply treated every person they met. Sure, they could have just been acting, but hey, I saw how they acted in front of kuya, around each other, and even to me. What’s even more amazing is how open they were and how generous they were of their ideas from the first day I met them. They seemed ready and excited to conquer the world. I’ll never forget the day I asked them how they could be good Korean citizens as young as they are and as far away as they are form their homeland. Without having to think hard, they quickly talked about how they must show their culture with pride and dignity and how they hope to change the way foreigners view Korean students in different countries. They were quick to admit they get a bad rap and how their experience in China kind of made them realize the power they had to change this. Since they were the only Koreans in their school, they could show the good things they’ve learned from their parents and teachers when they were young children in their own country. I was quite impressed by their level of maturity. Most wouldn’t even care.
Lastly, I loved how they seemed to slowly share a bit more of themselves every single day. I wouldn’t ask for it, but they’d let me hear their favorite songs. They’d ask me questions about life in general, and would even share secrets with me. I found it quite endearing that they trusted me in such a short amount of time. Our classes were often focused and we would accomplish a whole lot, but in between those serious moments, I found a lot of joy helping them find a voice to share their thoughts to the world.
Thanks Jackson and Joel! I truly learned a lot from you. I hope to meet you again soon. ♥