This life is beautiful, but very short

February 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Posted in ESOL, Favorite, Staff, Student Stories, Teaching | Leave a comment
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Who have you seen today?  I hope you exchanged smiles with at least one familiar face.  A family member, friend, coworker, someone you see at your regular stops at the cash register or bus stop.

Today, while in the halls of James Lee Community Center just outside the LCNV office, I ran into Pascual, one of my level 3 students from my teaching days that seem so long ago.  These days, I usually see him in passing as he totters to the Senior Center from the corner bus stop. He is a charming man, proud and intelligent; doing his best to compensate for a stroke that almost paralyzed his right side. He reminds me of a steadfast little tin soldier, always moving forward.  The semester I last taught him, he was going to graduate from our classroom programs. Our scholarship program wasn’t enough for him to afford Fairfax County’s Adult Community Education classes and he didn’t have use of his right hand for writing, so he stopped taking classes with us and has continued to do his best on his own.

Today, he stopped me on my way to the kitchen to define a few words he had scrawled on a paper napkin. He keeps reading, and today it was a Washington Post column on the economy.  He asked me to define “stunted,” “burbs,” and “cottage.”   It was a joy to see the “ah hah” moment pull light into his face as I answered his questions with analogies and gestures.  I miss teaching, I miss that one on one connection, and I miss learning from my students.  As we parted ways, he put on a paternal voice and said, “Thank you so much for everything.  And please remember, life is beautiful, but very very short,” as he pinched his able fingers in front of his face.  I couldn’t help but glance at the other frozen right arm, folded to his chest.  I couldn’t help but admire his constance and compassion.

These are our students.  People with amazing experience, capability and value.  These are people who generally can’t access resources of other educational organizations.  I take great pride in the being part of the LCNV community of partners, staff, and students who make our services possible; it is an amazing privilege.  Please consider volunteering, donating and referring a friend to our programs.  Thank you all and I hope you remember what Pascual said, “Life is beautiful, but very short.”

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

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