One Day,

I hope the world realizes that kids are our future and education needs both humility and grace…

My earliest passion within education really stemmed from the importance of education and the role it played in the life of my parents and their ability to immigrate to the United States. It’s always been said to me that your education is the foundation of everything upon which you can unlock opportunity and make a significant impact. I remember thinking to myself in high school that education was certainly something I was contemplating. However, I entered into my undergraduate years at Harvard thinking that I may not work directly as a teacher but impact the field in a broader sense. I took some really beautiful classes throughout my years of undergraduate education. I worked with a charter school administration, a nonprofit and many other facets within education but I missed talking directly to students and realized I wanted to be in the classroom.

At the beginning of this year and throughout college I began thinking a lot about identity and my own identity and the identity development of my students. I began to realize this need for both windows and mirrors within the classroom and the curriculum. At the time of this reflection, there was a lot going on in the world and I began to ask the following question: Who am I as an Asian American woman?

I did end up completing a teaching experience in Taiwan prior to teaching this year. My experience in Taiwan versus my experience in the states were quite different from one another. There was a difference between teaching elementary versus high school students. In addition, I was teaching English to elementary students in Taiwan which was more focused on phonetics versus completely creating and crafting a curriculum in World History and teaching it to 9th grade students this year.

This year was challenging. I entered this year after being abroad in Taiwan, and I think one of my main growths as a person has been learning to give myself grace. It is consistently still hard to do. Though difficult, I have realized that sometimes it is okay to breathe and tell myself I’m doing enough. Something I am also proud of is trying to set boundaries for myself and finding some semblance of a work-life balance. This is certainly an ongoing struggle but something I want to intentionally continue to focus upon in the coming years. I wanted to make sure I prioritized health-particularly physical health this year. I saw this really emphasized when I was in Taiwan because it was embedded in the culture there. I’ve tried to bring this culture with me wherever I go.

My hope for myself is to deeply impact as many lives as possible. Whether this impact is through direct service or broad level work, I hope to continue to find the balance within the breadth and depth of impact I hope to do. Finally, I want to give back in the way I have been given love.

In addition to life-balance my growth in terms of love and human relationships has been significant. This year, I learned to step into a role as a warm demander. I adjusted my view of love within all relationships as seeing love as high expectations for myself and other people. This has shifted for me because I now listen and empathize but also pair that with high expectations.

One of the most important lessons I learned from my students was to not make assumptions and take things at face value. I was also encouraged and amazed by the questions they had. Particularly in a history class, it is so important to be curious and open-minded. I tried to model this, but I think they pushed me to encourage this way of thinking as well. My students also reminded me to give grace to myself. Whenever I announced at the end of the year that I was not coming back, my students were so real and encouraging. Lastly, there were moments of embarrassment, liberation and vulnerability. They truly reminded me that vulnerability is incredibly important. I’m reminded that even though I strive to take care of them, I can let myself be cared for as well by their joy and their love.

Recently, I’ve found that I’m very drawn to the social-emotional side and identity development of students and so I’m hoping to take these passions with me as I move into the higher education space. Next year I will be the head teaching fellow for a course on Conflict Resolution entitled “Conflict in a Divided World.” I certainly want to disrupt more of the inequitable structures such as grading and testing. However, right now, those structures are not changing and so you begin to really think about how we can encourage students to be successful within these structures, while also challenging them.

This balance is sometimes very difficult. I also thought a lot about gender this year. I reflected a lot on my identity as a female and an Asian American. There were certainly a lot of discussions centered around language and dress-code and why things are acceptable and why they are not. In other words, where is there room in our education systems to grapple with these critical issues and have these discussions? I also thought a lot about access to higher education and thinking through the opportunities students have or don’t have within the system.

My hope for myself is to deeply impact as many lives as possible. Whether this impact is through direct service or broad level work, I hope to continue to find the balance within the breadth and depth of impact I hope to do. Finally, I want to give back in the way I have been given love.

People say they are our future
The next generation will change things
I cannot agree more or hope for more
I’ve never known love in this way
Wanting to see a child grow
To protect them from failure
To instill in them values of love, humanity and care
Is this what it’s like to be a mom?
Teaching has been so joyful
Contradictions that feel right to sit in
Because that is what life is anyway
Whether they like it or not
They will be in my life forever
I’ve never been more grateful to touch the lives
Of so many young ones
I feel so humbled to have been
Given witness to their growth
I’m realizing that this feels like purpose
It feels like the deepest joy imaginable
Knowing you can make an impact
Knowing you can make a difference
Knowing that you matter to someone else
I want others to always feel that from me
The deep care
The deep love
The deep sense of deserving this love
I feel myself starting to well with potential tears
But they aren’t there yet
I want the flood gates to open
I want my kids to know my care
I hope they feel my love
I love the heck out of them
It sometimes feels unsustainable
But then I remember that
I was a kid once too
And there were people
Who poured their love into me
Making me feel safe, empowered, confident and loved
It’s the most beautiful gift I could ask for
And I’ll spend the rest of my life paying it forward
To whom much is given-much is expected
Thank you to those who give and take and love
In a world that can be easier to close yourself off to
I always want to choose love and not fear
I want to live my life in wonderment
See the world as beautiful and strong
I want to make a difference