The Gift of a Teacher

The Gift of a Teacher

PEACE POST … Just in time to for Back to School
– a story about an AMAZING teacher and the student she helped find his voice.

Celebrating expressions of Peace
(formerly ‘ThreeLinesAndACircle.com’)

It took 20 years for this author to reunite with the teacher who changed his life

By:  Vanessa Romo / GPB/PBS/NPR

Talk about a storybook ending.

Author Jamil Jan Kochai searched for more than a decade for Susan Lung — the second-grade teacher who had changed his life over 20 years earlier. And on Saturday night, in one of those “life is better than fiction” twists, the two were finally reunited at one of his book-reading events.

“I pretty much learned how to read and write in English because of her, and if it wasn’t for Mrs. Lung, I don’t know what would have happened to me,” Kochai, who still finds it difficult to call his former teacher by her first name, told NPR.

“I feel like everything that I’ve done up to this point — all the success that I’ve had, the fact that I’m a novelist today — it all started with Mrs. Lung all the way back in 1999, when I was 7 years old,” he added.

Kochai is the author of 99 Nights in Logar, a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel. He is currently promoting his second book, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories. His work has been published and praised in many of the nation’s most esteemed publications. But for much of his early life, he could hardly speak English.

The writer was born in a refugee camp for Afghans in Peshawar, Pakistan, and his family moved to California when he was just a year old. At home, they spoke mostly Pashto and some Farsi, so by the time he reached first grade, Kochai said, he was at a total loss.

As a result, he said, “I associated school and learning with punishment and with exclusion.”

He fell further behind during the summer of 1999, when the family spent several months in Afghanistan.

“I fell in love with my parents’ home village in Logar, but pretty much everything that I learned in first grade, I ended up forgetting by the time the summer was over,” Kochai explained.

 

The magic of Mrs. Lung — and all the devoted teachers out there

Then came Mrs. Lung, who quickly realized that Kochai was deeply struggling at Alyce Norman Elementary School, both academically and socially.

“I could see he was sharp as a tack, but it was hard for him,” Lung told NPR.

“Not only did he have to deal with forgetting all the English that he knew, but he had to deal with the kids who couldn’t understand him.”

The two got to work, meeting for one-on-one lessons nearly every day after school. By the end of the school year, Kochai said, he was winning reading-comprehension competitions.

Thinking back on the experience, Lung said it’s not an especially unique situation.

“There are many thousands of teachers doing the same thing all over, and they’re doing it for the love of it. Not for any kind of kudos but because we have a passion for it,” she said.

Lung added: “It’s just incredible to see their literacy grow by leaps and bounds. To see when they’re able to communicate with their little friends, which I think is a big part of learning English or any other language.”

 

The problem with not being on a first-name basis with your elementary school teachers

Lung and Kochai lost touch at the end of their year together. Kochai’s father got a job in another city and the boy moved on, albeit with a voracious new love of reading and writing. By the time he reached high school, Kochai’s parents encouraged him to find his former teacher to thank her. But despite his efforts, he failed to track her down.

“Part of it was that I didn’t know her first name. She was always just Mrs. Lung to me, so when I called places to ask about her, they couldn’t find any records of her,” he said, laughing.

But Kochai kept trying through college and afterward. Still, he came up empty.

Then, while promoting his first novel, he wrote an essay for Literary Hub magazine touching on the transformative impact that Lung had on his life. Lung’s neurosurgeon happened to read it, and during her next visit, the physician asked the now-retired educator, “Did you ever teach at Alyce Norman Elementary School?”

It was Lung’s husband who ultimately found Kochai. “He found me on Facebook and reached out to me out of the blue,” Kochai said.

They made plans for a phone call that same night.

“I finally got the chance after all these years to express to her how much I still thought of her and how much she meant to me,” Kochai said, adding that he also managed to get both of his parents on the call. “She was just the same Mrs. Lung. Just as sweet and kind and warm as ever. And we were all tearing up. It was a really emotional, lovely night,” he said.

It was the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and they promised to meet in person as soon as things returned to normal. But as life does, Kochai said, one thing after another seemed to get in the way, and the reunion never materialized.

 

Reunited and it feels so good

“Again, it was my husband who had the idea, to go to the reading on Saturday,” Lung said.

Lung’s husband had seen a Facebook post about Kochai’s new book and suggested they make the drive to a reading in Davis, California.

“I had no idea they were going to be there,” Kochai said, sounding absolutely delighted.

“I don’t know how I didn’t see her before, but Mrs. Lung was sitting in the front row. I mean, it had been 20 to 22 years since the last time I’d seen her,” he reasoned.

They hugged and he gushed, and she asked him to sign her copy of his first novel.

“And I got to leave a little note for her explaining how much she meant to me. And it was a really lovely evening,” Kochai added.

They exchanged numbers again, and now they’ve made a new plan. “We’re going to have a big family dinner next week!” Kochai said.

In the meantime, Lung has some homework: “I am part of the way through his first book and I just got his second book at the reading, so I’ll be reading that when I’m finished.”

be kind . be grace . help others

be PEACE

The Magic of a Hug

The Magic of a Hug

Stroke victim regains the power of giving hugs

CBS Sunday Morning

After a massive stroke eight years ago, Kevin Eubanks, of Paragould, Ark., lost the ability to use his left arm – and he has missed hugging with both arms ever since. Now, four occupational therapy students at Arkansas State University have gotten together to invent a piece of adaptive equipment to allow Eubanks to hug his grandchildren again.

Happy Father’s Day!

be kind . be grace . be there for each other

be PEACE

Investing in our Youth – One Woman’s Mission to make a Difference

Investing in our Youth – One Woman’s Mission to make a Difference

Full disclosure this amazing woman is my relative and I couldn’t be more proud of the work she is doing to support the youth in her community.  Her drive, creativity and compassion is inspiring and hopefully a catalyst for others to follow suit. 

Heidi Maxie is more than just a math teacher. She’s seen as a “guardian and protector” of students at her O’ahu school, able to see beyond the surface to their deeper needs. She’s also a builder of bridges to her community, who in turn have all stepped up to support James B. Castle High.

Read the full article HERE

be kind .  be grace . support each other

be PEACE

Free Mom Hugs

Free Mom Hugs

Free Mom Hugs is a beautiful organization started by one amazing Mama with the goal of supporting her son.  From that initial mission she has created a movement that has expanded across the nation and is helping bring love, peace and support to many people.

 

Sara Cunningham began her journey of becoming an advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community through her relationship with her gay son. She founded Free Mom Hugs in 2014 and since that time many parents and allies across the country joined the movement to accept, love and support the LGBTQIA community.  Free Mom Hugs became an established 501(c)(3) non profit organization in 2018 to fight for human rights for all.

Click below to support their efforts.  Oh- and if you’re a hugger be sure to order one of their awesome shirts to wear with PRIDE and help spread the love.  

Here’s one more inspiring video 🙂

Be kind . be grace . support each other

be PEACE

Investing in our Youth – This Young Man’s Inspiring Invention Helping Amputees

Investing in our Youth – This Young Man’s Inspiring Invention Helping Amputees

On a personal note:

I’m sorry for my long pause on ‘Three Lines and a Circle’ posts.  To be honest I’ve been overwhelmed by the news of the world and wondered if it was even worth my time and effort.  That being said – I realize that NOW more than ever it is important to keep profiling and highlighting stories from this beautiful Earth that bring awareness to the actions and efforts of people trying to forge ahead in this world with LOVE, GRACE, HOPE and PEACE.

Please enjoy this latest post.  Investing in our young people and encouraging them to grow in their creativity, education and emotional strength is crucial for the future of our world.  We all live here and it is the responsibility of us all to ensure our young have what they need to protect themselves and future generations.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

This High Schooler Invented a Low-Cost, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm

Full Article:  Smithsonian Magazine / Margaret Osborne

Ten years ago, when Benjamin Choi was in third grade, he watched a “60 Minutes” documentary about a mind-controlled prosthesis. Researchers implanted tiny sensors into the motor cortex of the brain of a patient who moved a robotic arm using only her thoughts. Choi was fascinated by the concept, likening it to something out of a Star Wars movie.

“I was really, really amazed at the time because this technology was so impressive,” he says. “But I was also alarmed that they require this really risky open brain surgery. And they’re so inaccessible, costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Years later, when the pandemic hit in 2020, Choi—a tenth grader living in Virginia—suddenly found himself with ample free time. The lab in which he’d planned to spend his summer researching aluminum fuels had shut down. But the documentary he had seen years earlier stuck with him, and he decided to use his spare time to build a less-invasive prosthetic arm himself.

In his makeshift laboratory on the ping-pong table in his basement (where he sometimes worked 16 hours a day), Choi independently designed the first version of his robotic arm using his sister’s $75 3-D printer and some fishing line. The printer couldn’t build pieces over 4.7 inches in length, so Choi printed the arm in tiny pieces and bolted and rubber banded it together. In total, it took about 30 hours to print.

While most brain-powered  prosthetics require invasive surgery, Choi’s uses a pair of electrodes and a custom algorithm to move the arm with a combination of brain signals and head movements.  Choi’s invention, which recently earned him funding from MIT, costs just $300 to produce.

“Maybe this sounds a little cliche’,” Choi said.  “but you can really help people I think through engineering, through technology.”  

Be Kind

Be Love

Be Well

PLEASE continue to donate and support the charities, non-profits, and community groups that are working hard to make a difference and address problems and issues that ring true to your heart locally, nationally and abroad.

In addition to local and regional groups, here are a few of my go-to’s:

Subscribe

What's NEW, Fun Stuff

& Peace Posts

Whoohoooo! You've successfully subscribed!