this week was teacher appreciation week. it gave me an opportunity to thank not just the amazing teachers at my children’s schools, but it was also a time to be grateful for the teachers that were the stepping stones of my own life. i can recall snapshots of my childhood where my teachers played key roles in getting me to where i am today, helping me to believe in myself and to not give up.
when i was about six years old, we moved from london to seoul. one day, my mum took me to an oriental art studio where i would meet an artist called soonyi oh, who lost both her arms due to a tragic train accident when she was only three years old. she painted with her toes and i would watch her apply each brushstroke very carefully and elegantly as the black squid ink bled through the rice paper. at the time, i think i was too young to truly appreciate why my mum brought me there every week to a studio full of old ladies which always seemed too quiet and boring. instead, i probably spent most of my time there letting my imagination run wild and being the bratty kid that kept disrupting the peace and quiet in the studio, but soonyi and her sister soon became like my big sisters. i have many funny memories of my time there, including a time when i found a watermelon inside the studio fridge which i so wanted to eat. for some reason, i was too shy to ask whether i could have some, so for the rest of my time there, i kept painting a picture of a watermelon again and again, one rice paper after another until soonyi got the message and finally asked me, “do you want to eat some watermelon?” that moment was probably the first time i experienced the sweet taste of successfully conveying a message through my art (oh, and ofcourse the watermelon was the best reward at the end).
in primary (elementary) school, i attended seoul british school in s. korea. i was a very energetic and enthusiastic child at school. i remember always feeling like i was very special instead of feeling different from my peers. i have mr & mrs price-jones, miss roberts, miss urion, miss jackson, mr evans, mr & mrs crossield, mrs maguire, mrs choi and many more to thank because their love, acceptance and passion to teach a (crazy) child like me was pivotal to developing not just my love for learning but they taught me to love myself for who i was. they also saw that i had talent in art, encouraged and supported me in every way and really embraced me to see myself as a gifted child. i loved my school and teachers and never wanted to leave.
the british school had no secondary school so i had to move to seoul foreign middle school. this was when things changed a bit where my adolescent self became a lot more quiet and introverted. the school was bigger than the smaller classes that i was used to at the british school, which was rather intimidating at first. it took me a while to adjust especially being the new kid at such a self-conscious stage in life. i began to see myself as “different”. one peer also told me, “i feel so sorry for you”, which i’m sure was said with good intentions, but it was the first time i questioned myself whether i was someone to be pitied. all the kids seemed to be set in their own groups – there were the cool kids, the not-so-cool kids and then the socially awkward ones who struggled to fit in any group – and i didn’t know where i belonged and suddenly i was left unsure of who i really was. however, the ones who brought light into my adolescent years were my teachers and mentors – mr & mrs roy, mr copeland, ms byrd, mr cook, mrs woo and ms schulte. they guided me throughout this awkward period of my youth where they openly welcomed me into their classrooms at the end of the school day to listen to me, and most importantly, just be present for me even at times when i didn’t even know how to express or process fully what i was experiencing internally. they were my true friends.
after middle school, we moved back to london so i could pursue my higher education there. i continued being a determined student driven by a goal-set mind to be the best student i could be so i could get into the best university. i’m thankful that my teachers at notre dame senior school never put a seed of doubt in my mind that i couldn’t achieve this. i’m thankful for sister faith, mrs cochrane, mrs jackman and all the other teachers who supported me.
next, i would never forget the warm smiles and invaluable support of dr dan moore, dr frank berkshire, dr lynda white, mrs margaret cunnigham, dr krysia broda, robert sternberg, gareth mitchell and mrs loretto o’callaghan at imperial college london who re-established my faith in believing that i was where i was meant to be and a worthy student.
and fast forward to today, i am immensely grateful for my parents, my siblings, my family, friends and fellow prayer warriors who are my spiritual mentors and teachers making sure i have my heart in the right place. your love and prayers keep me growing and maturing in my faith and in my relationships with others.
John 14:26 (NIV)
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
1 John 2:26 (The Message)
“Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.”