Several former students, whom I met today during my department’s international picnic, came to me said, “We miss you, Mr. Kim.” I must admit that it is always pleasant to hear when my students who previously took my course say this. It is even more so when I hear it from motivated students. I, of course, greeted the students with a friendly joke, “Oh, thank you. Do you miss me or my teaching?” They smiled and said, “We miss both. Oh, no. We only miss your teaching.” They laughed and I joined them.
I teach international students at the University of Central Florida (UCF)-CMMS. I love teaching international students. I was once an international student. I learned my English and prepared for the TOEFL and IELTS tests to get in the regular program to obtain degrees I wanted in Australia and USA. It was very challenging, or I should say, “No fun at all.” I had to deal with the daily pressure and stress of “I have to learn English and pass the test.”
On the other hand, it motivated me to work hard and get involved in outside class activities including hanging out with native English speakers. My most memorable and yet challenging activity was to go out with native English speakers because I could not understand what they were saying and laughing about. It was also embarrassing. I could not say a thing. I would just sit and enjoy my soft drink or munch on my snacks.
I like to share my experience when I teach my class. Every time I tell my story, I see all students listen with their full attention. I can tell without a doubt they are saying, “Yes, you speak my language.” I share this to motivate them to jump start and successfully achieve their academic goals.
Since I still meet many students not only saying, “Mr. Kim, we miss you,” but also, “Mr. Kim it is you. You taught me what to do and I did it. I have now passed my English test. Thank you very much.” Overall, I am grateful that they passed their English tests, and I am so thankful for them. Yet, it is most satisfying to hear they were able to press forward, perhaps because they identified with my story that they could succeed.