Here I am posting photographs some of the elegant gifts that I received today for Teacher Day. What makes this day different from similar days in the United States is that it is not simply a day for giving gifts to teachers, but rather a day in which students can express the significance of teachers in and upon their lives. There truly is a collective mindset here that, while not thinking about education in overly earnest or somber tones, nevertheless thinks about it reverentially. The difference may seem subtle, but it is real. For me “reverence” means not only respect for something, but also a deep sense of relationship that can also include ideas such as delight, joy, winsomeness, and even affection and love. One young lady three days ago came into the teachers’ office after school to ask some chemistry questions. Afterward, she was trying to express her feelings about her new Anglo teachers, but could not find the right words. The next day, she found me in the morning and said that she had first found the Chinese words she wanted, and then found the appropriate English words. She said that, “Deep within my heart, I want you to know that all you teachers have warmth and zest.” “Warmth” and “zest” were the words she had been trying to express. How does one respond to such words from a student, except to reply with words of profound gratitude? As faculty here, we are all wonderfully grateful for working with the students who are a part of this program.
One added thing I am grateful for, and this is that the students are very enthusiastic in their helping me learn to learn new words in Chinese, and to pronounce them correctly.