People usually have three chances to meet a good person who can influence their lives: parents, teachers and friends. One such person was my homeroom teacher, Ms. Kwon. She taught math in high school. She taught me about learning on my own and having an independent mind. She spoke plainly regarding my bad habit of being late and my attitude of depending on other people. I knew it was good advice, but that hurt my feelings. Sometimes, I was crying on the table while putting a blanket over myself. It has now become a sweet remembrance to me. When I think of university life, I think about how it is affected by Ms. Kwon and how I have achieved many things relying on myself. I taught some elementary students who can’t afford to go to a private academy and volunteered for the jazz festival. I have been to the Philippines to study abroad and I was in the USA. I would like to tell you about my high school life, which provided my turning point.
The sky looked down at the race track of a small high school in the countryside. The sun let out its warmth and tiny fragments of sand shone. There was only one girl who started to run to school. It was too late to go to school for the start of a day. When I entered the classroom, every student was staring at me and the homeroom teacher was angry.
“Hey, Seran Oh! Why on earth are you late for the first day of high school? You are the only one who has been late since I started teaching in the school,” she said.
I felt shame at my being late. At the same time, I felt strange. This was the first time that I had seen her. I asked her after she gave me a lecture, “How do you know my name?”
“This is my class,” she said. “Before you entered the high school, I already had a picture of you and memorized your name. As you know, it’s quite difficult because a picture and a real appearance are so different. It took time, but I was interested in you.”
I was surprised at her interest. That was the reason I respected and believed her even though she spoke directly. We started our relationship as a teacher and student by accident.
The next year, she was again my homeroom teacher, who in addition taught mathematics. As time went by, the math level was higher than before, but my level of understanding seemed to be stopped at one point. While she was explaining probability, I didn’t understand anything and just sat in one corner of the classroom. I wanted to confess my difficulties and get advice on how to be better in class.
“Ms. Kwon, I can’t understand what you are saying in class. It’s so tough”, I said.
She replied, “You don’t make an effort to make yourself better. You just want someone to do everything for you. You should do it yourself.”
That hurt my feelings, so I decided to do my best. At that time, we had homework about probability. It was a problem about give-and-take using white and black stones over three times. I calculated one by one. It took more than one-and-a-half hours.
Next day, she asked who solved the problem. I raised my hand. The only one who raised a hand in my class. I solved the problem in front my classmates. I hoped to be praised by her. She said nothing and only wanted me to be better. That reminded me to work harder in math and try to learn from her.
The next year, she was my homeroom teacher once again when I was a senior. Actually, since I entered high school, I have never spent a semester without her class. She was the sole person who knew me very well.
One day before I had an exam which would decide if I would enter university, she hugged me heartily.
“Probably, you will have good points,” she said. “You have guts. Don’t be nervous and afraid. You can do it.”
I seemed to be crying, because this was my first word of praise from her. I thanked her very much. In that way, I finished high school.
When I look back, she was a great teacher. Although she seldom commended me, I have learned to study on my own instead of relying on sympathetic teachers. Like a mother bird, she has taught me how to fly without her help.
Oh Se-ran, Department of Division of Advanced Materials Engineering