We are nine days into school and it's been a terrific start! I have an ESL Bible class where 2/3 of the students are from Asia, with sixteen from China and one from Japan. I also have three 8th grade students from Asia, a first. A number of years ago, I taught a student from Japan named Rui Kitodai who you will read about below. I hear from her every so often; she is an extraordinary young lady! The entry below, from 2-15-06, should give you an inkling.
Rui is leaving us Friday. We have a number of Asian students at Westbury Christian School and Rui fits the description. She is Japanese and a sophomore. She and her brother, an intermediate school student, enrolled at WCS in August after their father came to Houston to do research. They were originally supposed to return home at Christmas but their time was extended by six weeks. What a nice family! Rui's mom can be seen selling cookies in the cafeteria at lunchtime with other volunteer mothers. She also asked for a Bible study at our congregation so she could better understand what her children were being taught in their daily Bible classes. After an initial culture and language shock, Rui has managed beautifully in Bible 10. Her English printing is flawless- she would have an A in penmanship if I graded in that area. Her written memory verses are inevitably perfect. She stays after class and has me correct and supplement her notes from that day. My corrections have dwindled nearly to nothing. Rui is very quiet but smiles unceasingly. She came in early today and had several gifts for me (a beautiful Japanese fan and a ornate handkerchief) along with a touching note thanking me for my help. We will miss her. In sports they retire jerseys; I'm going to retire Rui's desk for the year in 8th period Bible. It would not be fitting to have someone else sitting in her spot. I think I'll have the other kids sign a card, laminate it, and tape it to the desk top. It won't quite be the Lincoln Memorial...but it will be close!
I love our Asian kids. They have to work twice as hard to overcome language problems but they manage. They will spend an hour memorizing scriptures that English speakers can learn in five minutes. Many of them also take Spanish which means they have to translate from English to Japanese-Korean-Mandarin-Vietnamese-Thai to Spanish. I am in awe of their discipline. They are unfailingly polite and respectful. I have eight native Asian students in class. Their average grade is 97%, in spite of the fact that they have had almost no previous exposure to the Scriptures. I make only a few concessions. I let them use their translating devices on tests and quizzes. I also xerox a copy of Meg George's notes for each of them before tests- I realize it's not easy to keep up with me in the note-taking department. (Shoutout to Meg who had her interview this evening with HARVARD!) They also like holidays- I got Valentine's candy from almost every Asian girl yesterday!
And so, the clock is winding down for Rui. The reality is we will probably never see her again but we can hope. You don't have to be boisterous to make a solid impression on people. In his first epistle, Peter defines unfading beauty as a 'gentle and quiet spirit.' Rui has that down to an art form! Westbury Christian School, Room 258, row one, seat two- Rui's desk. It's about to become a shrine!
Applicable quote of the day:
My Tribute To Rui
"We shall meet but we shall miss him,There will be one vacant chair."
taken from The Vacant Chair (Civil War Song)
words by Henry Washburn, music by George F. Root
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org