Monday, June 09, 2014

Big Yellow Taxi

Tonight, I've been in Facebook contact with three of my former students; sisters Annie and Emily and Michelle. All are from China and are giving their former teacher advice on teaching conversational English in Vietnam this summer! I love our Asian students...and I had plenty of them to love in my classes this year! A good number of our kids, like Michelle and Emily and Annie, are from China. I cannot imagine being fifteen years old, living in a strange country with people I am not related to, and going to school in a language that sounds nothing like my own. The following, from August of 2006, is about one of my favorite youngsters from the East.

I love test days. Designated test days in the Bible department at Westbury Christian School are Wednesday and Friday. This past Friday marked my first tests in all five of my Bible classes. On days of exams, my work is completed for the day before I arrive. The grading- that's another story but the administering is a cinch. This means I have very few pre-school duties on test days so Friday, I went down to the main entrance to our school building to say good morning to kids when they arrived. About 7:10 AM, a yellow taxi cab pulled up in front of the door. At first I couldn't tell who was paying the driver but as the passenger emerged, I saw that it was Emily, one of our Chinese students. As she came up the sidewalk, I asked why she came to school in a cab and she said that was the only way she could get here. Being nosy, I inquired how much the fare was and she replied that it was thirty dollars. I was incredulous.
"It costs you thirty dollars to get to school and back each day, Emily?"
Her answer?

"No, Coach. That's just one way. It's thirty more to go home in the afternoon."
I was floored. Sixty dollars a day just for transportation to and from school. If you multiply that out over the one hundred eighty days of a school year, you find a sum total of $10,800 in taxi fares or close to $4,000 more than one year's tuition. Like a number of our foreign students, Emily lives with a family in Houston. As we talked, I found that her guardian family has changed business locations, rendering it nearly impossible for them to bring her to WCS. All day, that sixty dollars stuck in my mind. Let me put it into perspective to my situation. Granted, I drive a Toyota and live very close to the school and my church but I spend only about $5.00 per week in gasoline. In a typical month, my total gas bill is roughly twenty-five dollars or five dollars less than Emily pays just to come to school one morning. I was amazed.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells two very short parables comparing the kingdom of heaven to treasure and pearls. In both cases, in verses 44-46, the character involved sold all he had to purchase the treasure and a wonderful pearl. The point is obvious; we will invest heavily, perhaps even exorbitantly, in return for something of greater value in the future. Emily is a terrific student. She and her family back home in China have been willing to pay the cab fare in return for her education. Knowing the sacrifice she makes to get here, I would not be worried about her being lazy with homework or failing to study for a test. And, there is good news! Being a small school, it is relatively easy to get involved in our kids' lives and the wheels are already in motion to make Emily's situation much more bearable. I hope it works out. Emily has displayed the level of her commitment to make her education her treasure and she will be rewarded. She told me Friday how indebted she feels to Westbury Christian. Emily has it backward: we are indebted to her for making us a better school.

Applicable quote of the day:
"The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become."

Charles DuBois

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Lang said...

Hey coach this is your favorite Bible student Lang WIlliams .... well i just stoped by to read and comment your blog ....
God is Love
Lang Williams

Jon said...

I cant believe she take the taxi everyday...
ps. miss your tests!!

Lisette said...

Thank you for all the words of wisdom and confidence you give me everyday!

-Miss Lisette A. NaƱez