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The Lesson I Learned

Every time I step into a classroom, I get a feeling of new beginnings and excitement. I am not sure if it stems from my happy childhood, or from my days as a high school teacher, but just the thought of getting a classroom ready for the first day of school awakens my senses.

And so it was that I stepped into a classroom once again just this month to speak to 3rd graders at NOW Academy in Koreatown.  Ms. Matsui’s classroom was just as I would have wanted to see it.  Every space on the wall was filled with student artwork and projects.  Colors beamed from every corner.  The kids were huddled in the corner sitting on the floor, and as I walked in, they were silent—Their big curious eyes looking back at me wondering what I would be like.

I sat down in a small chair in front of them.  Each child sitting attentively watching my every move.  I said hello.  I told them my name and that I was happy to be there with them.  Instantly, a few of them started to raise their hands as if they couldn’t contain their questions any longer.  That’s how my talk began and ended.  I never had a speech, rather it was simply a conversation with a group of young minds who were like little sponges.

We talked about my job, my childhood, the importance of loving and caring for animals, and even my dating status and age.  They didn’t let me get away with anything.  Honesty was key here.  Believe me, I can still hear the surprised gasps when I told them what year I was born. Ha.

Something beautiful happened that day.  I began to realize the kids were asking me the questions that we should be asking ourselves….What are your goals? What advice do you have for the younger generation? What is the best thing you have ever done?  Do you volunteer?  Who are your role models?    

I am sure Ms. Matsui asked me to come there to help inspire the kids in some way, but what happened was THEY inspired me!  In the short hour I was there I realized I want to slow down and listen more.  I want to look into people’s eyes and really hear what they are saying.  I want to be as interested in something- anything as the kids were this day.  I want to hold hands, hug, and love the way these little guys and girls did with me even though I had been a stranger only minutes before.  It’s a lesson I learned in the classroom that day, but something we can all aspire to learn in life, if only we take the time to try.

Thank you 3rd graders for reminding me….

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