I went to Seoul last weekend for the final Fulbright shindig dinner dealio. More on that in my next blog. But at the meeting, there was a plethora of speeches and presentations given – some boring, some interesting; some professional, some heartwarming. However, there was one speech in particular that really affected me. It was called, “Thank you, teacher”, and was an interpretation of what many of our students would say to us if they could, thanking us for what we’ve done for them over this past year. Inspired by that, I have decided to write my own version, coming from the other direction. Here is what I could say to all of my students, if I could. This is my thank you letter to them.
Thank you, students
Thank you, students.
Thank you for always waving at me and saying hello to me in the hallway,
even if you’re unbearably shy and never say anything during class time.
It’s nice to know that you know who I am.
Thank you, students, for giving up your precious free time during meals to spend it with me.
Thank you for always being so willing to share anything and everything that you have,
and for feeding me from your own plates when you think that I haven’t eaten enough.
Thank you, students, for putting up with me as I learned how to become a teacher.
Thank you for slogging through the bad lessons with me,
and for clapping after the good ones.
Thank you for coming up to me after class and apologizing for sleeping through it.
I know that you’re tired, but I appreciate you recognizing my efforts,
even if you were too sleepy to stay awake for it.
Thank you, students, for coming to talk to me in between your classes.
Knowing that you went out of your way, just to spend 6 or 7 minutes talking with me,
warms my heart more than you will ever know.
Thank you, students, for translating for me when the other English teachers were too busy to help.
Thank you, students, for telling me about your dreams, your hopes, your worries, and your problems. Sometimes I have a hard time doing that in my native language,
with people that I’ve known all of my life…..
I will never forget the courage that it took for you to do that in a second language.
Thank you, students, for trusting me with your secrets.
Thank you for telling me about your secret crushes, or forbidden boyfriends,
or days spent playing hooky, or arguments with your family.
You have made me feel like not just your teacher….you have made me feel like your friend.
And that has made all the difference.
Thank you, students, for somehow always having the energy to greet me with a hug and a smile, sometimes even with a running start, regardless of your 18 hour days at school.
You are an inspiration to me.
Thank you, students, for reminding me to smile when I was unhappy and frustrated,
and for calling me beautiful when I felt like crap.
Thank you, students, for also being my teachers.
Thank you for teaching me about your language, your culture, and your lives.
I am so much richer because of it.
Thank you, students, for showing me your special corners of Gyeongju.
Thank you for taking me to decorate cakes, and eat dumplings, and make cupcakes,
and take sticker pictures, and sing karaoke.
You showed me beautiful parts of your lives,
that I would have never seen without your willingness to share it with me.
Thank you, students, for giving up your precious days off to take me to dinner,
or go on day trips with me to other cities.
Those are some of my most treasured memories from my entire year.
Thank you students, for not only sharing your lives with me,
but being willing to hear about mine.
Thank you for asking to see pictures of my family, and asking about my life back in America,
and talking with my friends on Skype.
Your interest in my culture made me feel so welcome,
and I will forever miss your excited oooohhhhhs and aaaaahhhhs
when I tell you something interesting about my life.
Thank you students, for not forgetting about me on teacher’s day.
The flood of little notes and cards and gifts that I got from you simply made my heart soar.
I will treasure them forever.
Thank you, students, for writing random, “just because” letters to me.
I know that some of you spent an hour or more on each letter,
slaving over the proper grammar and drawing cute little pictures on the finished product.
The fact that you worked so hard for me did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Thank you, students, for teaching me how to be a better person.
Although I am the one with the title “teacher,”
you have taught me more than I could ever hope to teach you.
You have taught me about generosity, kindness, love, forgiveness, patience, and a host of other things. You have taught me how to accept and include people who are different from me.
You have taught me how to give more to people than I ever thought possible.
You are the reason that I survived this past year.
You are the reason that I am in love with Korea.
You are the reason that Korea is my home.
So, my wonderful students, as I prepare to leave Korea, let me say one last time….thank you.
Thank you, dear students. I will love you for the rest of my life.