Unexpected Lessons

Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?


The streets of Kunming, China are crooked and filled with potholes, and the ‘school’ was more of an abandoned building than a learning facility for children of full-time workers. Yet the children that sat on the dusty floor of my classroom were still so bright. I went with my church to this school the summer following my junior year to teach classes to rural Kunming children. While we did teach subjects ranging from English to Games, the school’s actual purpose was to provide these children with an adult role model. So curious, so innocent, and so sincere: you couldn’t help but love them.

In the morning all the volunteers would show up, fresh and full of energy. Our days were full: handing out name tags, hauling snacks, teaching class, washing hands, and giving out piggy-back rides. By the time afternoon rolled around and we cheerfully waved goodbye to our children, most of us were ready to collapse. And yet, after school our team would get together and have to design a new game or song to match the theme of next day. My skill set focused on the artsy things: making the picture for pin-the-nose-on-the-face, writing in the piano notes to a song about Thanksgiving or Honesty (we had different themes each day). These children had...

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