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a shared language- a mother's love
on April 10, 2015
I was teaching English in central China. I sometimes read simple stories to my class of mixed students, and since this book was written in simple English I knew it would appeal to both my advanced and basic classes, and they would all be able to sign out the book from my "library" to read on their own after I read it aloud in class. It's moving theme of unconditional and everlasting love I felt sure would appeal to all, and did it ever! As I read, I told them of the recent unexpected and early death of my own mother, and how much I missed her. As I read aloud I felt my l throat tighten, and my eyes fill up with tears. My students could not help but notice. At the end of story I gave my students a usual assignment - they were to think of the story and write about it in their journal. I asked them to reflect on their own feelings for their mother (it was near Mother's Day) as they were writing. As I was sitting in my room reading their journals I was astounded at the profound responses the book had brought about, and even the student with the poorest English skills found the words to write about their mother - living or deceases. Never, in all my years in China had I been given such insight into both the country and the people. They were graduate students in university, and many were coming back to school after years of education disruption due to the past 'cultural revolution' and the 'great leap forward'. As I read of mothers who went hungry so their children could eat, or who went without medical care so they could provide for their child/children, I cried. My students were usually not comfortable speaking aloud in English, and always reticent about making any comment that might be taken as a criticism of the government or policies, but this wonderful little book broke down all barriers and even the weakest student found a way to honour their mother. In reading their journals I not only learned so much about family life in China during difficult times, but I learned that love of mothers is something that is universal and binds all of us together in a way unlike any other. Mr. Munsch was able to touch the heart of China in a way no one else could, and I am deeply grateful to him. Mine were not the only tears to fall that day.