Evan Shang

The Influence

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There are many people who influenced me throughout my life, my parents, friends, historical figures and so on. But one person, who I met while studying in China, was able to aspire me in finding one of my biggest passions – teaching. I hope this essay can give you some insights on my struggles in learning a new language and the spark to my flaming passion.

One person who has influenced and inspired me was my Chinese teacher: she inspired me to find my passion and helped me learn a new language. I was raised in Canada from a very young age, but under certain circumstances my family and I moved to China during my middle school years (grade 8 and apart of grade 9). As a result, I was enrolled into a public middle school in Xi’an. Attempting to adapt to a new culture, greatly contrasting to the one in Toronto, the most difficult task was learning the new language – Chinese. Although I was born in China, I did not become accustomed with the language before moving to Canada where English became my native language. From my early stages of being an ESL student to being a CSL student in China, learning a new language without any help is not easy.

While my classmates were reading poems by Li Bai, Confucius and Du Fu, I was at my desk reading a kindergarten textbook, once again, attempting to learn a new language. Thinking that I would never need to understand Chinese again after immigrating to Canada at the age of four, I had never considered deepening my own proficiency. With almost no background in Chinese, the journey was long, arduous and full of adversity. It took hours of practicing, stroke after stroke, character after character, before I began to understand maths and sciences. Despite that, courses that included more words than numbers continued to pose a problem.

Besides the fact that I was almost illiterate in Chinese, I was often invisible. Many teachers assumed that I would not understand despite their best efforts, so they never paid any attention to me. Yet, one teacher was different; she taught Chinese and she noticed me. After lessons, she would come by my desk and ask me if I had any problems and would suggest ways to improve my Chinese as well as coach me through various homework problems. Not only did my Chinese grow stronger, my knowledge in other areas of school also expanded. I could see in her eyes that she sincerely wanted me to learn and was motivated by her sheer love of passing on knowledge. She was my role model and I was aspired to become what she represented to me; a selfless, kind, and approachable teacher.

Thanks to the help of my Chinese teacher, in less than two years I grew more comfortable with Chinese and changed from the almost illiterate student back to a superb student. More importantly, with great influence from my Chinese teacher, I developed a sincere passion of teaching, though it would take many more years before I would be able to decide if this was the road for me.

Before I knew it, last summer, I was back in China. This time, I was teaching English.