The Saving and Repairing of a Struggling Child

by Iwen Cheng from Managua in Nicaragua

“Are you aware?” A woman, around her early forties uttered. 

 “Aware of what?” The other person perked up, voice laced with curiosity.

 “That child. She’s a foreigner and has no knowledge of Chinese speech nor characters whatsoever. Yet, her parents say they’re going to enroll her in the nearby school,” The woman continues “in fifth grade.” 

 With that last statement, the other person's eyes go wide. “That late?! Every other child has already learned how to read fluently, and that takes a lot of time…To start now, isn’t that impossible?” She whisper-shouted. 

 “That’s exactly what I thought, isn’t it too late? Will she even make it?” The woman once again voiced. Something close to concern was twisted and shoved into the sentence, not really serene, yet not ill-intended either. 

 Foolish people, one might say, because right on the brown colored piano bench, the child who those hurtful words were directed at was listening in, not a single word escaped from her, and not a single one went to her heart. They weren’t wrong on the statements, except that in reality she did in fact know Chinese speech and understood what they were saying. It wasn't her first time receiving the doubt of others, but never had she heard someone so openly express their thoughts. Other people had, at least, the decency to keep their thoughts to themselves, even if it was all reflected in their eyes. It didn’t matter anymore, as that was years ago, time had forgotten it, even if the now seventh-grade student didn’t. Sometimes the feeling of being abandoned, given up on, criticized, and the soft whisper of surrender all comes back to her, as it’s all still vividly engraved on her memory. Perhaps that was the main reason why she admired her seventh-grade teacher so much. Because, unlike other people, she did believe in her and gave her hope.

 My seventh-grade teacher, who was attentive to every single one of her students, quickly realized that I was below the level of a native Taiwanese. On the end of the first day of school, my parents received a call of concern from my teacher. Her voice calmly explained her observation: how my Chinese understanding wasn’t good; how I lacked the ability to read fluently; my sometimes weird pronunciations…she pinpointed every problem I had without missing a beat, which surprised my parents and, especially, myself. 

Sensory skills are quite precious, a trait worthy for a hero. How could a hero fight without understanding its opponent first? I still remember the feeling of amazement and shock that coated me that day. I think that was how she earned my respect, but that was it. At that time I thought that it was just a temporary respect, and that eventually she would turn her back like everyone else. I never would have imagined that she would become one of the most important figures in my life, that she would teach me the significance of setting goals and help me achieve them. Imagine how surprised I was when she didn’t judge me based on how difficult my situation was, never treated me like a troublesome existence. Instead, she saw me as a person, a human that was capable of learning. That’s another thing that made me admire her so much, she never judged and always saw potential in every student. It wasn’t strange how she, eventually, became a hero to me. After all, she had taught me life lessons that I still carry till’ this day.

 Persistence. It’s a clear yet easily ignored hero trait. The ability to never give up, also the trait that I wish for, and lack. My teacher was a persistent teacher, she never gave up on me. Which was something I'm quite grateful for, even if that meant that I had been banned from giving up. She was always checking on me and my progress as well as my struggles and questions, advising me wisely. Even if I failed, she used those failed attempts to help me improve by pointing out what I could've done better and what I did well. I remember how once I had to miss school for a family emergency, I ended up missing a bunch of classes. I felt guilty. I knew it would be in my best interest to not miss any classes, but that was, for me, a rare opportunity. An opportunity to take a breather, inhaling venomous air as time added more to my debt and more weight to my heart, encouraging me to run away. Either if I wanted to or not, running away was not an option, it never was. The fear of upsetting my parents was what kept me from falling into such temptation, even if that meant forgetting to enjoy everyday and every moment. At that time I was so submerged in my thoughts and assignments that I didn't notice what I was sacrificing. Looking back at it, It was inevitable, and honestly it wasn’t a problem, It just affected my productivity. But to think my teacher pulled me out of that void without me noticing. It was expected since her teaching skills were remarkable. She replaced that emptiness with the joy of achievement, the importance of self-control, and how to keep yourself from temptations. She had me explore everything myself, like a newborn crawling around in order to understand the deepest secrets that this world offers. I still remember how she would stay with me after school to study, that’s where I found out that I concentrate better at school. 

 They say it is essential to know yourself in order to succeed, I can definitely agree to that. As I kept finding more about myself, I kept improving. I will never forget the first time I got a passing grade on Chinese, my most struggling subject, which was also the reason why I earned eye-bags despite my young age. It definitely sounds like a silly deed, but for me, it was, and still is worth celebrating. The bubbling feeling that grew inside my heart, how my lips forcibly turned upwards without my consent, the urge to jump up and start cheering. It is something I will never forget about, and it was all possible thanks to my teacher. If I’m honest, everyone of my classmates liked her as our teacher. Another trade my teacher had was that she was quite humorous. People would always joke around with her. Once, she announced that for the people that didn’t get good grades on the next test, she'd draw a pig on the back of their hand. Almost immediately, me and a group of friends asked her If she could draw it now on our hands. We didn’t see it as punishment at all, in fact, it was an honor. She was dumbfounded and unfortunately changed it from a punishment to a reward for us…Needless to say, we never got it due to the covid-19 pandemic. What a shame. 

 Furthermore, I can’t imagine why my teacher decided to take me under her wing after being shown how difficult the path was. She said she did it because it was her duty, and I truly admire her sense of responsibility. I didn’t mention it but my fifth and sixth grade was a nightmare, although if I had to do it all over again, I would. Because those experiences, teachings, and feelings all made me the person I am today. She has proven to me that righteous people still exist, and has played a big role in my life. She taught me with patience and understanding. People doubted, and I understand why. I wish we could learn to control our words, but unfortunately the tongue is treacherous. Even so, just to humor that lady and answer the question she has once asked. “Will she make it?” Well, I am happy to say that yes, I did.


Page created on 9/28/2022 3:19:26 PM

Last edited 9/29/2022 8:37:20 AM

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