Thursday, June 9, 2011

From Hitler to Harvard: A Recent Success

Joyfully, happy tidings have rolled into town of late on the back of the beautiful weather. My student, the one who once confused "Heil Hitler!" with the phrase "great praise," has made some serious moves in life. No longer exhibiting any anti-Semitic tendencies due to some serious Come-To-Jesus chats we had, she has done something no other student from Hovd has ever done: get into the United States Student Achievers Program. This is a highly prestigious program that selects a handful of rising 11th grade students, in this case 13, from the whole country to preen them for attending university abroad, specifically in America. Unfortunately, my student will have to attend extensive monthly meetings in UB, meaning that though she loves life here in our little town and is the only family her mother has in Hovd, she will have to uproot and move to the city to live with her sister. She is both thrilled and terrified at this whole turn of events. Ten of the students selected are from UB, 1 is from one from the second richest city in the country, leaving just my student and another kid who hails from the countryside, a place where the academic rigor is nonexistent. But though it will be difficult time both emotionally and otherwise, I have every confidence in her. I just hope that the Harvard Fever that presides over so much of the education system here does not go to her head. I keep trying to tell her that Harvard isn't the best place on earth and she should look for what's right for her. I don't know if she fully believes me.

Though I know this it's selfish, I was happy she got in because it makes me look like a rock star. In Mongolia they say "good teachers make good students," a mentality I have some serious issues with. But in in light of her success I look awesome and the Ministry of Education seems pleased; it feels good to have a little validation. However, on a much more genuine, personal level I am thrilled because I thought myself more of a mentor to her than a teacher and now she will find new, better mentors. Having these professionals whose job it is next year to make sure she goes far in her education both academically and geographically makes me feel great because it's a job that I so badly want to do for her but can't. I have neither the expertise nor ability to guide her though this process. In the Shirley Temple movie "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" her warden tells her "I taught you everything I know" to which she retorts sadly "I guess that just wasn't enough." While the old man in the movie was comically miffed, I am okay with this maxing out of knowledge. I am happy if my student grows out of me. Handing her off to people who can take her to the next level feels wonderful, and I have found a deep happiness from this sustainability. In all fairness, it should be a natural progression, to send a high achieving and precocious student on to college guidance counselors. But sadly here in the developing world, that's a pipe dream for most. I am so supremely happy I have gotten to guide my student to the next step; she is a young woman I am lucky to know. Look out, world, here she comes.

1 comment:

E in Atlanta said...

What a wonderful feeling! Just wallow in that glow and keep us posted on where she ends up. Good job, Lara!