10 June 2020

Dear Mai laoshi,

Thank you for your guidance, support, and faith in me. If it were for you, I will not be where I am today.

It was the summer 12 years ago when you picked me up at the airport, little did I know that my life was about to change forever. I was over-excited and probably asked about thousands of questions on the ride back to Carleton, and you just patiently smiled and answered all my questions (in perfect Chinese). Everything seemed so new, fun, and wild! And of course, I missed my first meeting and class with you, but you just gently brought it up without any harsh tone, that’s when I realize that’s the mentor I wanted to be one day. Then soon I visited your office again tearfully asking for advice about taking classes (I failed my first week of the French class, hard!). Meanwhile, I must have been the most unpredictable language associate you had, having all the wild ideas of teaching because I was too bored to do the lab classes I was assigned to do (is it called Can-8? I don’t even remember!). You even let me teach a real class when the parents came to observe during the family weekend (that’s a really bold move I have to admit). Besides seeking advice about teaching and learning (the Writing System Course I took with you is hands-down the best class ever!), there are also many many heartfelt conversations about life, relationships and pursuing my dream career. I remember the time you sat with me going over the teaching plan for my Smith College job interview, to this day I still can not believe how much support you lent me and how much faith you had in me. You truly inspired me to be an educator that not only tries to excel in teaching, but also be there for the students with my whole heart.

Even after I left Carleton, you were there for me from time to time – you attended my wedding, you showed up to my presentations at the conferences and even found time to have a walk or meal with me (sorry you always had to run to catch your flight!). Though we have not talked in a while, I think of you often, especially when I found myself using many techniques and activities that I learned from you (the money bargain activity has always been my students’ favorite, thanks to you!).

Thank you for all the love, wisdom, and inspiration that truly changed my perspective of what it means to be a teacher, mentor, and friend. You not only made a huge difference but also touched a lot of lives along the way. Hopefully, our paths will cross again soon and I look forward to hearing what amazing thing you’ll do next!