Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moving Speeches

This week in class, the sophomore students gave short speeches about their prized possessions. While the majority of the speeches were about cellphones, bracelets, and notebooks, there were a few speeches that stood out. Hearing about one’s students’ early brush with rejection, and her most deeply treasured possession, a sweater, deeply jolted me and reminded me of hardships I can only imagine:

“I have two elder sisters. But my parents like a boy much more than a girl, they don’t like me very much. What’s worse, my mother didn’t want to raise me, and she wanted to send me to others. Fortunately, my grandma decided to bring me up, and then she took me to my aunt’s home. My aunt took good care of me, and her children treated me very friendly. We got on well with. I stayed in my aunt’s home with happiness, meanwhile, I owned a wonderful and meaningful childhood. I regarded my aunt as my mother. When I was five, because of certain reasons, I can’t stay with my aunt any longer. My aunt sent me to my grandmother’s home and gave me a sweater as a present. At the same time, she told me that I must study hard so that I could have a better education in the future. No matter when I meet the difficulties, I should try to overcome them. Don’t draw back. Where there is a will, there is a way. I kept these words in my mind and reminded of them now and then. The sweater was my favorite. I liked wearing it very much at that time.
Now I keep it in the drawer in my bedroom, besides, I keep a good memory. Thanks to my aunt’s courage and sweater, I work very hard so that I can enter the university. After I entered the college, my parents like me and they’re proud of me. I’m grateful to my aunt and her sweater.”

The most creative speech was about a pair of shoes. It goes like this:
“I regard a pair of green high-heeled shoes as my treasured possession. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to change something to make me look like a lady not a girl. So I decided to buy the high-heeled shoes. In my opinion, a person who wears high-heeled shoes makes her become more attractive and dignified.

“The heel of the shoes is only 3 cm, but, for me I really feel uncomfortable at first time. I remembered clearly the day I wore the shoes to buy tickets. There were so many people, I waited in the line almost one hour. I had no feeling in my feet. I even did not know how I got back. When I returned home, I took off my shoes and found that my feet were out of shape. All I got at that time was pain. Tears fell down. The pain lasted for several days. After this time, I think I can wear them walking naturally.

“Now the shoes were broken, lying under my table. When I met with some difficult problems or new things that I did not know how to deal with, I would look at the shoes. I cherish the shoes because I learned a lot from the experience. I realized a person who wants to change something, he or she must have a try and pay for something. Maybe the first time, like me, was not satisfied. But if you try, how can you know it.”

A lot of the girls wrote speeches about meaningful notebooks that they shared with their friends. Here’s an example from one student.

“A notebook is ordinary, however, when filled with memory between two friends, it becomes meaningful and special. To tell you the truth, I have one that belongs to my friend and I. In my eyes, the notebook is my most treasured possession.
It was on her 20th birthday that I finished my writing in the notebook. Half of the notebook remained empty. When my 20th birthday arrived, she sent back the notebook to me, whose pages were filled with her best wishes and secret stories, we completed the notebook together. In the notebook, we shared our own life experience with each other. Reading every word on the page, I had never felt so close to her deep heart like this before. Those stories written in the notebook remind me of every treasured moment we had experienced together. When I am down, and the world seems dark and empty, she lift me up in spirits and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. She get me through the hard times, the sad times, and the confused times. I placed the notebook in my drawer, and I keep our friendship in my deep heart. If I died one day, I will take it to the tomb with me.”

In fact, a lot of students ended their speeches with this rather dramatic and unrealistic sentiment, “If I die, I’ll pass it on,” or “If I die, I’ll pass it on to my child.” The “if” part of this sentence is the part that I find unrealistic. Of course, we’re all going to die. Is the problem with their understanding of life or a misunderstanding of how to use the “if” clause.


Anonymous said...

Those are interesting glimpses into the students, and the culture. I have heard various speakers say that in Greek there is a use of 'if' where it is used with certainty. In other words "If, and you know it is". Sometimes in English, too, you might hear an oath like "If the sun comes up tomorrow, then ____" where certainty is implied.

Perhaps there is a similar kind of oath or idiom in the language which is impacting the use.

Hope you have a nice weekend!


Drew and Rachel said...

wow. the sweater and the shoe speech. impressive. I think you must be good at drawing out the hearts of your students, portia.

sorry, I know I'm a chronic commenter on your blog. I hope you don't mind.