Lessons from My Students

One by one, my ESL students trickle into the classroom, gathering for their late night class.

Some arrive by themselves, quietly say hello to me, sometimes adding a shy smile and a gentle nod, and go straight to their usual seats. Others I can hear even before they enter the classroom – lively exchanges of the latest news in roaring and unconfined voices speaking foreign languages, interspersed with loud outbursts of happy laughter…

Gradually, everyone settles down, the conversations die down and all eyes focus on me. I smile to these beautiful Souls and ask them how they are doing this evening.

Just before beginning the lesson, I notice one woman standing next to her desk in the back of the room. “Are you still deciding whether to stay or to go?” I ask her jokingly. She doesn’t respond, so I add more seriously, “Why aren’t you sitting down, Anna?” “I can’t sit. I hurt my back three days ago and can only stand or lie in bed right now…” She stands for the duration of the whole class – one hour and twenty minutes – while students are learning about English grammar…

My ESL students’ commitment to their education, their children and their better futures as well as their modest, quiet and humble nobility, dignity, class and devotion often leave me speechless and in tears…

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

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