Digging up old stuff can be really good for you. Dust and other nasty naughties aside, you’ll inevitably find a gem under all of them, just waiting to shine for us again. So it’s a little faded, but hold it long enough and it becomes a touchstone. It’s as if the entire experience got zip-filed into that little trinket.

SH was a student i tutored in english as a foreign language years ago. She hung somewhere between the precocious ends of sombre adolescence and trusting childhood, between a south korean background and the overwhelmingly american school she was immersed in; between a strong personality and the many roles she suddenly had to fit in a new land, new family, new school. Spirited and incorrigibly idealistic, she had a million reasons to forget half the homework assigned, which she always told in such regaling tales. Her mind was incredibly quick, and we could progress fast with each session.

Among all the students i had, SH was a remarkable balance of good humour and sensitivity. Even in the full flow of memories, we sometimes remember the not so happy more, so i’m sorry i didn’t reach her before she went back home. It helped me learn there cannot be halfways in the connections we make with other people.

And i did learn a lot from her. She introduced me to things that both horrified and blew my mind, like christian louboutin shoes, and fried mozarella. At the time, i justified such chatter as a way to practise the language (and indeed it was), but i am also grateful for her vulnerability and level-headedness made me aware of living itself; she had shared her days and frustrations with such insight and hope. Plus she really was the poet when talking about young promises of the heart.

I trust SH got from me something of value beyond grammar and vocabulary, as i had learnt with her.


One thought on “Learning

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