Over my years of teaching ESL to adults, I have received a lot of little gifts. Some sit on the my office window sill and book shelves.
The Polish doll came from a long-ago student who was upset after he spent a lot of time on his essay and didn't get the result he hoped for. When I asked him if he thought I'd been unfair, and offered to reread the work, he calmed down. We had a heartfelt conversation about the situation, then chatted and laughed about other things. At the end of the term, he thanked me for my teaching and gave me the doll.
Why have I kept it there so long? Perhaps it serves as a reminder to speak from the heart, even when that feels challenging. In my work, the words I must say are not always what others want to hear.
The felt camel came from a friend who was teaching in Quetta, Pakistan. She bought it at a camel market. It reminds me of the words she said to me early in my teaching career when I was feeling insecure. Was I doing it right? Were my teaching methods correct? Judi's frank green eyes looked into mine. "It's all right," she said. "You are enough."
The ceramic figure is a South American musical instrument, an ocarina, and the Afghani doll I bought with my daughter at the annual Hycroft Christmas fair. We liked her face.