Why I Can’t Fit in My Pants Wednesday: My Students

February 3, 2016

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Last week, one of my students arrived at my nine o’clock class, and rather than pulling out his textbook, he pulled out a huge Tupperware full of these little, crispy donuts. He proceeded to pull more things out of his bag: paper plates, a carafe of Arabic coffee, the teeny tiny little Dixie cups that are used to drink Arabic coffee, and a sticky date sauce which he poured over the donuts. He was like the Mary Poppins of Arabic breakfast snacks. It was great.

This kind of thing is not at all uncommon in my line of work. I work with international students, people from countries where food is equated with friendship and care and respect and love. I teach them about participial adjectives and in-text citation. They teach me about Kabsa and glutinous rice balls stuffed with black sesame paste.

I once had a former student come up to me on campus and press a small box in my hand. “I’ve been looking for you all day to give you this, dear teacher.” Inside were Turkish pastries she had made herself, each a piece of art crafted out phyllo dough and pistachios.

The majority of my students are Middle Eastern. From countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Oman. Every time there’s another horrible terrorist attack followed by fear-mongering and hate, I worry about them. I worry that people won’t treat my students with the same kindness that my students have treated me with.

I want to invite everyone who has ever said anything fearful or hate-filled to come  into my classroom. I want them to sit down with us and talk and laugh and drink tiny cup after tiny cup of spicy Arabic coffee. I want them to see my students as I see them — as funny, kind, warm-hearted people, who sometimes, if you’re lucky, show up with donuts.

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I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On February 3, 2016 at 9:55 am Aimee McCrady said:

    That’s beautiful. Well said, Sally.

  2. On February 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm MomQueenBee said:

    Yes. I work at a college, too, and even though (sadly) our international students do not bring me food, they are warm and delightful. Thank you for saying this.
    MomQueenBee recently posted..Happy Birthday, Boy#4!

  3. On February 3, 2016 at 1:49 pm JessieV said:

    LOVE this. and yes, food is the language we all get along in!
    JessieV recently posted..Best Study Abroad Advice From One Who’s Been There

  4. On February 3, 2016 at 5:56 pm Priya said:

    The blog title made it seem like you ate your students. Trust me, you do not want to be THAT teacher 😉
    Priya recently posted..Ten Years Ago, I Predicted This

  5. On February 4, 2016 at 1:44 am Georgina said:

    Wow Sally! All the right words in all the right places.. Keep going !

  6. On February 4, 2016 at 3:02 am Leslie in Oregon said:

    YES!! (You and President Obama and I are in sync today!!)

  7. On February 5, 2016 at 6:14 am Claudia said:

    I’d be glad to come to your class. But then again, I already LOVE Turkish coffee and baklava 🙂
    Claudia recently posted..Great things to do in Argentina

  8. On February 5, 2016 at 7:24 pm Lorie said:

    This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing!!

  9. On February 6, 2016 at 5:06 am deb dench said:

    I have been reading you4 blog for years because you WRITE what you think, you are honest, and I admire your values. Keep up the great work!

  10. On February 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm Momtheobscure said:

    I used to teach ESL to adults. Reading your post reminded me of those great times and great food! No one should judge an entire group of people by the actions of a few.

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