Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Definition Of Paradise

We took our final regular test of the year in my Bible classes yesterday, the final one until THE FINAL! It was actually the shortest we've had all year, an overview of the crucifixion and resurrection/ascension. I offered the chance to do some artwork in conjunction with our Honduras/Haiti project and many of the students took advantage to gain a few extra points that might make a decade difference in grade for the nine weeks; you know, a 79 to an 80 or an 89 to a 90. My ESL classes take longer to test for apparent reasons but most got through quickly yesterday, that is, except for Nichole. A freshman from China, Nichole is one of my hardest working and brightest students. Like many international kids, English can prove treacherous for Nichole and she asks many questions prefaced with, "Excuse me, please?" Wednesday was no different. After the other kids had finished, she labored on deep in thought until the predictable question came. I came to her desk and she showed me where she had written the word DISNEY on the top of her test. Then she wrote it DESNEY as if that might be the proper spelling. I was stumped to what she was getting at. As I recall, she flipped the test over to the back page and then it hit me. She had written Let's go to the ____________ together.  The last question on the last test of the years was this:
List the seven recorded statements of Jesus from the cross:

I realized what Nichole was attempting to do was recreate the words Jesus spoke to one of the thieves being crucified with him:
Today, you will be with me in paradise.

Nichole did not know how to express paradise so she came up with her own definition of paradise that made sense; a Disney park. That made perfect sense to me. Except for the writing of essays, our international kids are not allowed to use their translators so Nichole will, in the margin, use several sentences to describe her answers. Sometimes, she draws pictures for me as she did yesterday, using art to illustrate The Ascension of Jesus back to heaven. All I know is that if they ever do a Nichole paraphrased Mandarin-English version of the Bible, I'm first in line for after a copy.

Yesterday after school, Nichole stopped by my room to finish her extra-credit bonus work for the test. Before she left, she wanted to show me how she had divided her notes from our class on her laptop. Nichole then paid me as nice a compliment as I've ever had as a teacher while at the same time, enlightening me to a terribly sobering reality. She told me she sends her 7th period ESL Bible 1 class notes to her grandmother who teaches a Bible class for older Christians who don't know much about Jesus and her grandmother teaches from those notes. I asked her if she meant the notes translated into Chinese. Oh no, Nichole said; the Chinese translations are not good so she teaches them in English, my English. That kind of shook me. It's one thing to teach when you have give and take, questions and answers, with native English speakers mixed in. It's quite another to discover your words are the curriculum. I have no idea how long this has been going on but she related that her grandmother wanted to express appreciation in my helping teach others. I only hope Nichole can help translate the more difficult concepts and thoughts. She's got a gift for language.

Applicable quote of the day:
“You know it's a small world when you bump into friends you haven't seen since grade school on the It's A Small World Ride at Disney World.” 

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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