Thoughts from Kat:

My water bottle broke. The inner layer of glass parted from the protective exterior, and I was left with two, jagged glass cylinders. I examined the fissure––sharp edges that would too easily slit a lip or a finger—and artfully concluded, Well, shit. I turned to my homeroom teacher and asked, “Is there a glass disposal?”

She took the bottle from me and shook her head, “No, we can use this, I think.” She looked closely at the same break and detailed how to blunt the edges with matte and coat the glass with color, so that when the sun poured through, the glass would conduct the light.

My homeroom teacher is well encapsulated by this moment. Thoughtful and kind, she sees more than most people. Our first long conversation occurred two weeks after my arrival. I was lost, tired, and somewhat annoyed by the expansiveness of Yuanmingyuan. Each time I turned, the ruins grew and the fauna consumed my vision. Where were the other volunteers? Where was my class? Where was I? My homeroom teacher appeared out of the hazy summer heat and kindly rescued me from myself.

We walked to the lake’s edge and started talking about ourselves. I learned where she was from, about her family, and I shared the same details about myself. I told her the confusion I felt about my future, the uncertainty I felt about my choices, and her understanding comforted me. We were more similar that I first thought. Whether we were 7000 miles or a foot apart, we were looking in the same direction. We wanted to make our families happy, and we also wanted to improve ourselves. I admire my homeroom teacher’s vision as well as her tenacious desire to grow and grow and grow, until she can graze the clouds with her fingertips.

In class, she instills the values she cherishes in her students. They follow her example and are doggedly forward in all that they do. Regardless of internal quarrels, they are stitched together as tightly as family; an injury to one is an injury to them all. She also encourages the students to work harder, think further, and simply be more, and the students grow with her words echoing in their minds. They love her, and she is at the heart of the 7-2 family. I think that Class 7-2 opened their family to me because of her example. She cherishes people for all that they are and can be.

Her vision stretches farther than mine; my eyes still fall short. She’s the kind of adult I’ve always wanted to be, and I only hope that I grow up as gracefully as she.


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