Yesterday, I received a message from a former colleague at the international school I used to work at in Korea. Sophie had just flown into Singapore that morning for the AMIS High School Honor Band and Orchestra Festival hosted by my school. She had let me know that one of my old students was there for the festival. We agreed to meet up today during their lunch break. I had gotten to the auditorium before her and I saw a sea of Asian students. I heard students speaking Korean, but I couldn’t spot my old student anywhere. So I went back outside the auditorium to wait for Sophie.
When she got there to meet me, she texted my student. As this tall, Korean student walked up to us, and greeted us, I couldn’t believe it. Now he was a senior in high school, reserved, and much taller then me. The last time I’d seen him he was in 5th grade, much shorter than me, and he never stopped talking! The boys in my class that year loved insects, especially stag beetles, and they would bring them to class (in plastic containers of course) all the time. He even remembered how our class was called Team Inspire.
Sophie shared with me how HJ had been doing research on insects in a lab and really pursued this passion throughout high school. He also casually told me that he was waiting to hear back from Harvard, even though he had already gotten into another Ivy League school… This was a pretty unexpected encounter, considering that this festival was actually supposed to be held in Korea originally.
As I reflect on the work we do as educators, we’ll never truly know exactly the impact that we make on the hundreds of students we worked with through the years. However, it’s these chance encounters and connections that we keep with former colleagues and students that shine light to our journey as educators.