I'm in the process of a big "de-cluttering". I'm having great fun throwing out mountains of old files from my filing cabinet. Good stuff a lot of it - but long forgotten and hardly ever referred to. But in my cursory glancing at things I have carefully filed I came across one thin folder of pages written by former students - not assignments - more like personal notes to me. Some triggered lovely memories, others I couldn't quite place. But this one stood out as worthy of publishing. I remember this student well and followed her progress for several years after she left BCNZ (Bible College of NZ) where I was one of her lecturers. If I knew where she was now I would love her to know her words and truth are still valued. I won't name her but here's what she wanted to tell me in 1987:
Mid-term Exams '87
make me feel
small and ashamed
shallow and dumb
I want you to know I'm not slow,
that I love my classes
I do learn and soak up so much of what you teach
In my mind and heart - deep inside … many secrets unfold -
the discoveries I make…
I love learning.
If I could let you take a peek inside of me, just see and understand that within I hold lots of interesting precious things…
My vocabulary is so small that it hasn't a chance of covering everything I "feel",
and I don't know how to use our English language to express
everything I've learned, to write out what I've come up with
I sit here in this exam after working so hard to learn
feeling small and ashamed
you will read my paper and think I'm shallow…
and the spelling! … she must be slow… and look at the way the
ideas and thoughts are so disjointed…
you will think that I haven't grasped all the wonderful truths in the lessons
you've been teaching.
don't treat me like I'm slow
don't talk to me as if I can't reach your level
you'd be surprised
I'm not slow… well not in the sense of intellectually slow
don't judge me by what I put on paper in exams
Exams are good I know,
they help to crystalize all your many thoughts and new discoveries
they help you get your mind sorting through and registering
all the many things you've been storing away
they are good
I'm glad we have to sit down and study really hard
I just don't want to be misjudged as a person
by how well
I can write out my thoughts and what I've been learning
on a piece of paper.
I wrestle with words and sentences to fit my ideas.
Sometimes my head seems to buzz with the weight of too many
problems that seem to have no solution.
I read once that the older one grew, the more complicated and
involved one's feelings became, and sometimes they were quite
opposed to one another.
So dear R.G. I remember you with warmth and respect. I never thought of you as dumb or slow and I'm sure you would be surprised to know that something you wrote 27 years ago counts as a treasure. What's more I think you have expressed something many others would identify with - and expressed it beautifully.