During the course of life, you live moments that end up sticking with you forever. Instances of impact. Switch points. Seemingly meaningless occurrences that you end up replaying in your head over and over again for years to come. What's weird is that when they are happening, when you are living in that moment; you don't typically realize that you are experiencing something that you will keep with you for the rest of your life. And then, at the end of the day, you realize that you experienced something profoundly special. A moment.
Today, Dana and I walked down to see our kids after we ate dinner in the cafeteria. Jessie came up to me and started fishing things out of her pocket. She gave me a half-drawn picture she was working on and a pack of post-it notes. I tried to give them back to her, but she shook her head and closed my hand around them and said: "For you, Cheltzee," before scampering off. Her clear unconditional love for me, her 5th or 6th American ILP teacher that she's had over the course of her enrollment at this school, struck me so hard in that instance. It was a moment.
Later tonight, I decided to go say goodnight and tuck in my second graders. As I was walking to their dorm, I heard my name be called. Walter (who has lost his ILP privileges this week because he was misbehaving in Chinese class) came running around the corner and gave me the biggest hug I've received since being in China. It amazed me that a hug that powerful could come from a kid so much smaller than me. "FLOOR FIVE!" he yelled at me as he ran up the stairs, indicating that he wanted me to come say goodnight to him after I had seen my first period kids. It was a moment.
As I peaked into the rooms of my second graders' floor, I heard my name being uttered from a room that already had the lights off. Beth, Cassie and Haley were all tucked into bed, but had heard me talking from down the hall. I quietly walked in and said goodnight, and Beth stood up on her bed and held her arms open for a hug. As I wrapped my arms around her, she said: "goodnight, teecha cheltzee" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I melted into a puddle of mush right there on the spot. A perfect moment.
China, on the whole, has been an incredible experience so far. The culture, the teaching, the people, the places have all combined into an adventure of a lifetime. But my students and these little moments that make up my every day life; that's what is really changing and teaching me. Moments that will stick with me forever. Instances of impact. Switch points. Moments that define who I am and who I am becoming, for I am a kaleidoscope of moments.