An Exceptional Gift

NA YeonAfter a frantically frazzling, yet entirely engrossing day of teaching “Good morning and How are you” to my beautiful, yet boldly barbaric fourth graders, I was greeted in the hallway by Na Yeon, my former kindergarten student who I absolutely adore.  I passed by her rather quickly today, since my schedule only allowed for a couple of minutes between each class to breathe, let alone go to the restroom.  She tugged at my coat as I walked by, so I slowed down my pace, as she changed directions and started to walk with me while rustling around in her pink, Hello Kitty backpack.  She pulled out a small, blue bag that read “Exceptional gift” across the bottom.  Inside was a pencil case and a folded letter.  Her infectious smile, doll-like hair cut and plastic, neon colored glasses (which change color on a daily basis) never fail to brighten my day.  She looked up at me with her porcelain white, seven-year old, innocent face, shoved the gift in my hand and fled to her classroom.

Sometimes, you go so fast and don’t realize what is right in front of you.  Sometimes, all you need is a little reminder of the simple joys that are present in life everyday.  Sometimes you need to slow down to realize those joys.  Sometimes, you might just need a little nudge to get you through the day.  And today I needed a nudge.  Na Yeon presented me with the most time appropriate “exceptional gift.”  I have acquired plenty of presents, pictures, poems, and portraits throughout my primal years of teaching and cherish every one (and also save every one of them) but one that is served unexpected, but just at the right time, is irreplaceable. The humorously lovely note was written by her older sister, my fourth grade student, Che Un:

Exceptional Gift

“From teacher Johanna

Hello, teacher my name is Na Yeon.

It’s pencil case is give you present.

I like you. And I love you.

To, Nayeon

(Beautiful picture of me as a ballerina with no hands or nose)

Teacher say Na Yeon is thank you I’m happy.

But teacher say not thank you Na Yeon is I’m Angry.

What’s your birthday teacher?

My birthday is May four give present”

I immediately left my desk, visited her to express my gratitude, so the random act of kindness didn’t turn sour leaving her angry!  And I certainly will be fully prepared on May fourth following her command she stated in the last line.  Na Yeon’s “Exceptional Gift,” her smile, her translated words, her love and her angelic display of affection helped me through the day, probably more than she will ever know or understand, and I thought to myself when leaving work today…

Oh yeah!  This is why I love teaching.  This is why I love my job.  And this is why I came to Korea.

“The soul is healed by being with children.” -English Proverb


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jt10s
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 19:54:36

    Aren’t students the greatest? It takes so little to please us as teachers. One student said he modeled his English accent after mine. Asian students are especially respectful, I find, which is why I love teaching in Asia as well… So, what exceptional gift will you give her on May 4? Tough act to follow!


  2. thaicurryinkorea
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 21:04:59

    I hope you remembered to thank her!! She gave you ample warning…”But teacher not say thank you Na Yeon is I’m Angry.” Ha!


  3. mase
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 02:27:31

    haha. that is great


  4. janet
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 05:26:04

    Oh so true, Johanna. The unexpected, little joys make life so special. You are one of my special joys! Just returned from Israel which was an adventure but pales in comparison to your escapades!
    Lots of love,
    Aunt Janet


  5. adormidesigns
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 06:44:53

    We need to celebrate MOURTH in a big way this year! What a cutie!!!!! You are the best teacher Joey! I like you I love you 🙂


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