Here I am on a Friday afternoon during winter break with a long to-do list staring me in face. Instead of tackling the list, I feel compelled to write something so here goes…
I don’t want to use names or specifics here but I hope I can convey the lessons I learned and my thoughts without such details.
It was late 2011 and I was about to do a presentation (on reflection as luck would have it.) The RPSIG (KOTESOL Reflective Practice SIG) had three presentations in the same room and I was the 2nd of 3. A few of us were heading to the room to check it out and set it up. After all, we had an actual banner that we wanted to put up. I was pretty mission-oriented and focused on finding the room and setting up. I was in a group of about 5 people. With us in the elevator was a young (read: younger than me) looking guy. Let’s call him Larry. One member of my group started talking to Larry and discovered that Larry was presenting at the same time as me. Again, I was pretty focused on checking on the room and basically just exchanged pleasantries. One member of my party was extremely kind and welcoming to Larry. I must also mention that the member who was most friendly was also the most experienced and decorated among us and is someone I consider to be a mentor. It was noticeable to me that such an experienced and well-known person was showing such kindness to and taking such an interest in a stranger. Larry actually came to at least 1 (and maybe 2) of the presentations in the RP room that day.
Fast forward to about 3 months later>>>
Larry started coming to RPSIG meetings and Larry came to be someone I consider a friend. He was also an active and insightful participant. I found him to be a deep and critical thinker and a welcome addition to our monthly meetings. I also felt that he was sharp, empathetic, humorous, and committed to professional development and helping others. I am happy I had a chance to meet him.
Fast forward to about 3 months after that>>>>
The RPSIG was having a special 1 day workshop with an internationally recognized speaker on RP. The workshop started with all of introducing ourselves one by one by saying our names an were we worked. After about 30 of the about 35 people had introduced themselves it was time for Larry to introduce himself. He introduced himself by saying, “My name is Larry and I work in hagwon” (private language school). His dry delivery to hinted that he was saying much more than his name and his employment situation. My interpretation of this self-deprecating self-introduction was that his job was not as “good” or prestigious as the other jobs listed. A further bit of speculation on my part hinted that perhaps Larry had been judged (or at least felt judged) previously by others based on where he worked.
Current time (which is about 7 months later)>>>
Larry is an MA student in Applied Linguistics at one of the best graduate schools in the world for this. I guess he just finished up his 1st term in grad school. I suspect he will finish in a year and will have many job opportunities and will do great things for the field and for his his students. I also happen to have revisited his blog lately and it is filled with great ideas and deep thoughts. I saw some pictures of him on Facebook and it seemed like life was treating him well.
I am thankful I am lucky to have such a great mentor and role model. I am also thankful I met Larry.
I hope I am not shirking my responsibilities as a blogger if I leave it to you, the reader, to think about the “moral” of this story and what lessons you might want to take from it.
Now back to that to-do list.