Ever since I was young, I’ve had a great relationship with people who were older than me. I’ve always loved visiting my grandparents’ home, something that plenty of my peers despised. I’ll certainly never forget the time when my grandma whispered in my ear that I was her favorite grandchild and the feeling of guilty satisfaction and pride that welled in my heart. Later, when I moved to America in middle school, I was on texting basis with the majority of my teachers in each of the schools I attended.
During high school, I discovered my love for the nursing home. I found talking to and interacting with the residents naturally easy and comfortable, and it wasn’t long before I started traveling to the home twice a week to provide company to the senior citizens. Whenever I walked into the toasty nursing home, the residents’ faces melted into crooked smiles. I loved how they called me “Jackie Wacky” and “Honey,” how I always had to assure Audrey that I’ll always love, how Carol snuck me the centerpiece after I told her I loved flowers, and how Ken always asked for a kiss before I left.
Walk by Tommy Trojan, pass Mudd Hall, cross Exposition Boulevard and in front of you is the California Science Center, where the Space Shuttle Endeavour is on exhibit. This giant bird of a machine, the first to carry humans in a re-usable spacecraft, completed 25 successful space missions and was brought to Los Angeles from Florida, piggy-backed on top of a modified Boeing 747. From LAX, it was another mission to safely get the Endeavour to the Science Center: 265 trees had to be cut down (they will be replaced), 67 traffic lights were removed to accommodate the shuttle, more than a 1000 police officers and 200 fire-fighters had to assist the 12 miles route on surface-streets from the airport, and at times it could only move inch by inch making sure no structures were damaged. After two days, on October 14, 2013, it reached its retirement home here, in our backyard.
In the summer of 2013, I had a really exciting opportunity to teach English to university students in China. Never in my life had I expected myself to get in front of a large classroom of international students and be able to instruct English through various methods of teaching. Before the trip, I spent countless hours constructing fun yet engaging lesson plans, planning out skits and lectures, and preparing myself professionally to assume the role of an instructor.
When I arrived in China, I was able to share with the students that I was also of Chinese descent, thereby enabling myself to instantly build trust with the students. Throughout the course of the summer semester, I was able to notice the improvement of the students’ verbal and written English as they were able to respond more quickly, examine their English competencies more critically, and read their papers more analytically.