A.J. is tall for a Korean girl. She’s pretty and tomboyish and the first time I met her she was glaring at me from the back of my Global English classroom. Glaring death. I don’t remember if she had her arms crossed or if she slouched back in her seat, but that’s how I picture it now. For the first few weeks of class, she was what my mother calls a sourpuss. Her death glare met me when I gave directions, when I elicited responses, when I happened to be within 10 yards of her.
Unfortunately, my instinctual reaction to any student who is not happy to be in my classroom is one of instant animosity. You don’t want to be here? Fine! I don’t want you here either! I don’t remember if I was cool or aloof, but that’s how I picture it now. Despite her decent comprehension, I had to drag answers out of her: “my mother is worker;” “my father is worker;” “my hobby is sports with friends.”
I have several students like A.J. this semester and, aloofness aside, I find that I’m drawn to many of them. I liked A.J.—almost immediately. She's the only girl student I have that likes sports and even if that emotion is distaste for my class, there’s a warm place in my heart for visible Korean emoting. I was curious.
I was looking forward to her midterm where I can pry a little; a one-on-one conversation about family and introduction stuff can explain a lot about a student. Maybe I could solve the mystery of the death glare.
A.J. came into her midterm.
I smiled and said hi. She looked nervous when she sat with her purse on her lap; she wasn’t glaring.
And that’s all I remember. I have no idea what her parents’ jobs are or where she’s from or why she chose Child Welfare as her major. I have no idea what her grade was, how the midterm went. None whatsoever.
I have no idea why she came into class today with all kinds of spunk. I have no idea why she sits up straight and volunteers answers or even asks questions about words she wants to know. I have no idea what changed to make her actually smile after class and say “See you later!” None whatsoever.
I like to think she woke up a couple days ago. She sat up in bed, frowned, and said, “The hell with this not being awesome stuff. I got this. I’m tall and I’m smart and I’m going to rock the world.”