I still remember the day that popular girl cried in front of my PE teacher in middle school. It was a windy day in Fall, dust was blowing from the ground, mixed with leaves, kept brushing against my legs. Beijing's Fall is strikingly beautiful, the city is surrounded with mountains covered in red and gold leaves, clouds seem so high in the sky, and every once in a while, a team of traveling birds would fly toward the south. Even the air smells different in Fall--it's a mixture of fresh fallen leaves, burning branches, thin air, warm wool, and a bit dust...it's a smell I am still trying to discover in today's perfumery.
On that particular day, my young, just-out-of-college PE teacher called out this girl's lies. Here is the story: every time we had PE, some girls in my class would use "the friend of the month" as an excuse to get out of running laps. I was never keen in running, but I never had the guts to use that excuse to skip running. I was too embarrassed to tell the teacher--and the rest of the class--my monthly cycle. The girls who were excused would sat on the bleachers, chewed gums, gossiped, and checked out boys, while I tried hard to catch my breath with every single running step, with the taste of dust in my mouth.
Some girls would use this excuse every two weeks; they thought being a man, our PE teacher would never know. Especially this girl, she would use this excuse every week.
They thought wrong.
I assume that my PE teacher finally got fed up, so when this girl walked up to him again in the beginning of the class and presented her lame excuse, with flashed red cheeks--either from anger or embarrassment--he said, "Look, I know it is impossible for any girl to have period every week for a month!" She stood there and cried.
I don't ever want to make my students cry, even if they present me with some of the most lame excuses. But toward the end of last semester, a young man cried in front of everyone in class.
We were going over Persuasive Speeches and I divided them into teams to put together an informal team presentation. Each team drew a speech pattern they had to follow, and they all had one specific purpose for the speech: to persuade Professor L that our Communication class is the best among all six. Pro. L was observing my class, so they thought this would be a fun topic for practicing persuasive speech.
The class had great energy. So far, the speeches were great--inspirational, humorous, or even somewhat exaggerating. Then this team got up and started their presentation. Following a Narrative pattern for their speech, R began. "Once upon a time, there was a young boy named A from Sweden, he left home and came to America, by himself, to attend college," then he pointed at A, indicating the next part of the speech. I was eager to hear from A about his personal story.
"When that young boy arrived in America, he didn't know anyone, didn't have any friends, he was alone. On the first day of registration, he really didn't know what classes to take. He needed 3 more credits and saw that there is still room left in a Communication class. So he took it and didn't think much of it, he wanted to use it to fill his credits," A slipped his hands into his pockets, his eyes moistened. "little did he know he love this class, he looks forward to it. Not only he made many friends in this class, it has become a family." His eyes turned red, tears were rolling out of the corners. The entire class went silent, then quickly followed by various "aw's" and sniffling. Prof. L was wiping her eyes, too. I stood there, my heart was touched and wrapped with warmth; the memories of myself when I first came to the U.S. rushed to my mind...I tried hard not to cry in front of the class.
It's time like this I once again ensure myself that I have the best job in the world.
Have you ever witnessed someone shed tears of joy?