Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The boys of Xavier

I call them my Posse. The boys of Xavier, my former 7th and 8th grade students are all grown up and heading for college.This photo was taken after their graduation ceremony in St. Patrick's Cathedral. From the left is Arthur Wang who was accepted in one of the prestigious industrial science schools in Rochester. Hay Lee will be going to Polytech in Brooklyn, Yong Xiang who is a first generation immigrant received the Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship Award will be attending Notre Dame in Indiana and Lung Nin will be heading for Stony Brook. These boys were also in DK's class(St. Joseph School 7th and 8th grade) and they were the smartest and the funniest too. But most of all these boys are compassionate, kind hearted and sensitive. I almost cried when I saw Hay Lee looking for his mom when parents are suppose to stand to be honored by their sons. Hay Lee's mom could not understand English that much and Hay Lee was several pews away and figured his mom might need his help, it was a tear jerking moment. Hay Lee's dad passed away when he was young. So it's just him and mom. Arthur Wang's mom and grandmother were so supportive. Arthur's dad left for China when he was small. And Yong Xiang is his family's hope. Neither parents speak English and Yong Xiang had to translate for us constantly every time we would congratulate the parents for raising such a wonderful son. These boys also have part time jobs even if they are in school. With scholarship grants and monies they are to receive I hope and pray they don't get to work in college until they graduate.
Arthur, Hay Lee, Yong Xiang and Lung guys look six million dollars richer what with all your tux and a rose in your lapel. I am truly proud of you guys.

DK Valedictorian

I was a new teacher in St. Joseph School and about to become the 7th grade homeroom teacher. David Kong or DK as we would always call him sits in front of the class. He was quiet, usually he would utter things in Chinese which I could not decipher and just give a poignant smile while I figure out if it's deliberate or a jaunt sarcasm. Truth being, it was just an innocent smile.I know nothing about the class, I was hired towards the end of September of 2001. Their homeroom teacher had to leave and I was a replacement. DK was also an ESL student. English is not his first language at home. His parents were immigrants from China and he was raised in New York City with both worlds. The "chinamerica" way as I call it in an undertone. DK also had a difficult time figuring out math problems(probably because of the language barrier at that time), creating good sentences without the traps of run ons and fragments were tedious tasks for him. In a thumbnail 7th grade for DK was a struggle. But there was one thing he had that the rest of the class seem not to have,well--in a sort. DK always went the extra 10,000 miles and he was always there no matter what. He was never late, never absent. He always asked for help and was willing to stay for extra hours until he gets the lesson. These were the qualities I observed that made me reflect where he was heading...he will be great someday, I just had this gut feeling that he will. A year passed and he was off to 8th grade. I was still his math and science teacher. The moment I stepped into class and gave the first test for both science and math, it was a different David who handed me the papers. He was more mature, more organized and just focused. He did not graduate valedictorian of his 8th grade class but he was my golden boy. My incoming 7th and 8th grade classes were tired of listening about David this and David that over and over. DK was just so hardworking and he never gave up at all. He just knew in his heart that if he would set his mind into it, he will make it. And maybe, my other students will do even half of what DK has done. Four years after, I had a visit from David.Even if I don't get to see him for a long time, I always have a catch up news with his school work, girlfriends, heartbreaks and journeys in life. A month before high school graduation I asked him if he is graduating top of his class and he was honest and candid in letting me know that he was not so sure because there is another student whose GPA is so close to his. I looked at him without batting an eyelash and said "You will be the valedictorian, we will all just have to pray harder" and he just gave me that same smile I saw the very first day I caught a glimpse of that 7th grader. A month after,DK hand delivers a graduation invitation and he is class valedictorian. It was my first graduation attendance in St. Patrick's Cathedral. The air inside the church profusely blends with joy from family and friends and the anxiety of graduates. The best part of course was hearing David's speech and watching him receive all those medals.He even got an award for perfect attendance for four years. That is just amazing. As his former was an honor to be a part of his education sojourn. As a friend it is a treasure this friendship holds.