Thursday night was the last night of classes for this quad. With each group of students I have, I always think, “This is my favorite group.” I feel disappointed that we only had eight weeks together and feel a sense of pride that they feel the same about me when they ask if I will move to the next level with them. Sometimes in the past I have, but generally I just wait and see what level I am most needed because after seven years of experiencing a “favorite group”, I know it will happen again at whatever level I am teaching.
This quad the group was made up mostly of students in their early twenties. They came to each class ready to socialize and have fun as each one works hard during the day. Mayra, a beautiful young girl,organized a gift exchange for our last party. I was surprised when almost every student agreed to participate. They came to class dressed up for the party, each with their gift and a platter full of food to share. It felt so festive. As each gift was given, a hug was also exchanged. For me, I received a beautiful sweater from Maria.
Maria is around my age with two high school daughters. She moved to the states from Mexico 18 years ago. In those 18 years, she and her husband have worked hard to make a good life here for their daughters which meant sacrificing learning English themselves. Now that the girls are older and more self-sufficient, Maria is taking the time to learn English. She works hard at it and really wants to learn. She is always the last one to finish an exam, as she diligently goes over each and every answer. She has no extended family here and was sharing with me at the party how much she has missed her family the last 18 years.
The stories my students share about their journeys to the states and the lives they have led, always makes me reflect on my own and realize how lucky I am to have had such an easy life. Their stories also give me such respect for them because even though life has not been easy for many of them, they remain so positive about their futures. I am the teacher in this group, but I learn so much from them.