Since the pandemic began, you have done great work and demonstrated great resilience. I really appreciate it. Above all the things, I am especially grateful for your empathy for the students at a time when they need it more then ever.
Let me share with you a story from my 20's.
In Taiwan, the Army would send troops to help farmers harvest. In 1996, as a military officer, I led a team of 15 soldiers on a harvesting mission to Chu-Shan, one of the poorest towns in the nation. During the mission, an old woman asked us for help. Her rice plants were covered by weeds and the grains were in horrible condition. Her family planted the rice in the spring, but unexpected illnesses took her son, husband and brother-in-law in the same month, leaving her alone with a farm too big to work on. She was ashamed of the terrible crops, and it took her a lot of courage even to come forward to us for help.
My team and I ended up going the extra mile and breaking several protocols for her, including delivering her rice to the wholesaler with a 2½-ton 6×6 truck, which was for military cargo only. Luckily we were not reprimanded when our commander found out, but we wouldn't have cared anyway. Like one of the young soldiers put it, "She could have been my mom. I would never forgive myself if I don't help."
To this day, I still remember the look in her eyes, a mixture of sorrow, helplessness and shame. It was her reality, but not her choice.
When I became a teacher, I quickly experienced the job's many stressors, like the frustration and disappointment when students don't do well or don't seem to care. But before feeling overly negative or making unfavorable judgments, I always recall my encounter with this unfortunately woman. I'd rather believe that many students are like her: They might have done poorly or don't even seem to care, but it is the result of their reality, not their choice.
Thanks for being there for our students. They can't choose their reality, but they have chosen Minneapolis College and they have chosen to trust you as their teachers. Let's continue to do our best for them.
Dr. Ben Weng