My Students' Voices
Carol Griffiths obtained a PhD in Education from the University of Auckland, specialising in Applied Linguistics. She currently works in Beijing, China as a teacher educator. She has had a number of articles published and she is currently working with CUP on the publication of a book called "Lessons from Good Language Learners".
The nail clippers
Farewell, my Achilles' heel
The three authors are all English Major students at Beijing Sports University in China.
Theorina E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sweets are sweet. But I had the most sour sweet when I was on the way to becoming a grown-up. The sour taste has stayed in the depth of my throat and has refused to be got rid of. It still tastes a little bitter. It is still memorable until now.
It was my fourth year in my primary school. Our school held an activity to get some donations from the teachers and students for a very poor primary school in a small county. After the meeting to collect donations, I was selected to be one of the student representatives. My mission was to send the donations to the primary school in that small county.
After the bus bumped all the way, we finally got to our destination. The actuality of the school was really unforgettable. The school was in poor condition. Three rooms only and a small garden without flowers and trees formed the whole school. There were no stairs, because all the rooms were on the first floor. Apparently the whole school was once flooded.
The students there were studying on the benches, but not chairs. Four or five students shared one long wooden bench with no backrest. Everything there was old and ragged. In such poor conditions, the students still fell in love with study and felt happy to acquire knowledge from the only teacher in their school. I had never known that there were so many people in such circumstances before.
Suddenly I felt ashamed of myself. I was so lucky that I was born in a good family, but I still complained about everything frequently. I was moved by the speaker from the poor school who showed her thanks to us for our donations. She expressed her true desire for studying with tears resting on her cheek.
At last, all of the representatives got on the bus and prepared to go back. The poor students warmly brought many sweets and held them up to the windows of the bus where we sat. They smiled like angels and used their enthusiastic voices to ask us to have some sweets. I couldn't reject their great kindness, so I smiled back and picked up one orange sweet. The sweet was sweet as normal, but I felt a bitter taste come out from it. Maybe the taste was from the bottom of my heart.
This orange sweet was eaten ten years ago. However, I still remember it. It was so special that it became an important part of my memory. It encourages me and inspires me to be thankful for my family who support me to learn, and people who help me and always stay by my side.
Sophie E-mail: email@example.com
Through my whole life, I will never forget one thing - the nail clippers incident.
I was brought up half by grandmother. My grandmother was a traditional Chinese woman. She was afraid of new things, so she used to clip her nails with wine bottle glass fragments. Hence she really suffered from the lacerating of the glass.
Once I used my mother's nail clippers and found them very useful, so I strongly recommended them to my grandmother. She was doubtful at first, but I showed her several times how to use them. She tried hard, however, she was too old to learn how to use them, and always, her fingers were not easy to bend. Finally, I began to help her to clip her nails several times a year.
In May, 2002, she got lung cancer due to long-term smoking. It was too late to control at that time. That summer was hard for her, and also for me. While she was struggling with the cancer evil, I was preparing for the high school entrance exam. I passed the exam with high marks and was admitted in my dream high school, but my grandmother was getting worse and worse.
Although I planned to stay with her the whole summer vacation, the high school required me to enroll earlier in August for military training! The morning I left my grandmother will stay in my mind forever.
She had hardly been able to speak for several months, her breath was so tight, but she still wanted to say something to me: "Can you stay one more day? Just one day?"
I shook my head hesitantly.
"Only one day? You have not---clip ---my--- nails ---this time."
This time I refused directly. I did not know why I was so firm at that time; I can not forgive myself even today. I went away from her as soon as possible and once on the bus, I could not refrain from crying!
One month later, just only one day after Mid Autumn Day, my grandmother passed away. She did not give me a chance to make up for my cruelty. That morning was the last conversation between us. That request was the last wish from her. I picked up the nail clippers from her belongings and from then on, I have never changed the nail clippers. So that whenever I clip my nails, I will remember my grandmother.
Lyssa E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to Chinese culture, Peking Opera, Ink and Wash painting, porcelain and Wushu will instantly flash into most people's minds. With the four symbolic treasures, Chinese culture has attracted a large number of people at home and abroad. Among them, Peking Opera is more like my grandma, witnessing my growth over the past years.
First, Peking Opera helps me blow my tension away. Before I had the first contact with Peking Opera, talking to strangers was the hardest thing in my life. I trembled and stuttered even before I started to talk. However, the moment I started to practise Peking Opera, nervousness was gradually no longer my Achilles' heel, let alone trembling and stuttering. I speak and perform freely in front of my friends and in public. The more I practice Peking Opera, the more confident and braver I become.
Second, Peking Opera provides me with a stage, on which I get acquainted with various schools of Chinese culture. At one time, my assumption was that practicing Peking Opera was going to be an interesting experience in my life. However, what I did not know was it would be rooted deep in my soul and shape my personality. For instance, from the play "Yang Men Female General", I have learnt that women should have the same social position as men, that only ability can protect the country, and that violent forces are not the only measure to deal with problems. In some other plays, I learn the important of benevolence and justice, which teach me how to better deal with human relations. Meanwhile, various characters and facial make-up expand my knowledge. For example, different colors symbolize different characters. Furthermore, as no other opera in the world could compare favorably with Peking Opera on this point, it is applauded madly by foreigners all over the world.
Influenced by my father, who is a professional Peking Opera performer, I started to practice Peking Opera at the age of three. At first sight, I was fascinated by the multitude of props and decorations, but now, Peking Opera has become part of my life. In recent years, with western civilization introduced to Chinese society, Peking Opera is no longer as popular as before, especially among teenagers, who would rather be immersed in American pop music, Japanese cartoons and Korean soap operas for the whole day than listen to Peking Opera for ten minutes. They believe it is out of date; the facial make-up is too complex; the rhythm is too slow; the tune is beyond them. Many people even predict Peking Opera will disappear in fifty years. This situation raises my concerns about its development, thus cultivating a sense of responsibility inside. I would like to do my utmost to save it from the precipice.
In Peking Opera, there is a traditional Chinese saying that "A minute singing on the stage, ten years practice off it!" Years' of hard training have given birth to my fortitude and broadened my horizon. I can hardly imagine my life without it. As one of the descendents of the Yan and Yellow Emperors, it is my responsibility to spread the unique Chinese culture to Chinese and foreign people with my specialty of English. I will devote my life to this sacred career.
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