Oh Wendy


Two days ago, a very special student touched my heart and made me so proud. Today, I want to dedicate this post to her. Though she may never get to read it, I still want to express my admiration for her.

Wendy joined my SS group in March. The only feminine thing about Wendy is her name. She is an engineering student who sports a really short boyish crop and always wears a white shirt and a pair of black trousers. Despite looking all tomboyish, Wendy is very soft-spoken and quite bashful. She is the kind of worker who toils silently in the background, always present but never heard.

The first time I heard her speak at the presentation, I held my breath. All for the wrong reasons. Wendy stumbled over every single word, though everything was already neatly typed on a piece of paper. In my opinion there weren’t any difficult words at all, but still we could not make sense of what she was talking. She stuttered, stumbled, mispronounced, it was too long and painful for us to sit through her part.

I sat down with her to simplify her script and yet when I heard her again, it was not much better. I seriously contemplated replacing her with a more eloquent student. At this rate, Wendy was going to cost us our marks. But I held back. Why? I don’t know.

“Wendy, did you practise at home?” “Er, no, I didn’t have time, ” she looked at me sheepishly through those glasses with silver frames. “WHAT?! You MUST practise!!! Stand in front of the mirror and read the script. You can do it. I really need you to do this.” “OK,” she promised.

Before we presented in front of the judges, Wendy kept very quiet. I could tell she was very nervous. I patted her on the shoulders, and told her not to worry. Actually, I was the one who was about to soil my pants. I had yet to hear her since her last awful performance.

When Wendy went up, I inhaled deeply. And when she started, Wendy really took my breath away.

She made zero reference to the script in her hand. She was confident and the words just rolled out clearly and neatly off the tip of her tongue. Every single word. She memorised her part, she looked the judges in their eyes, and she spoke. In proper sentences, without any mistakes.

And this girl, barely a week ago, was my absolute worst speaker among my 30 students. She was someone who could not even string a sentence together. When it all ended, I told her how proud I was for her. Wendy really shocked me with her determination and effort.

When I saw her again on Friday to break the bad news to the defeated teams, I could not resist giving her a very big hug. “Wendy, can I hug you please?” And I did before she had time to object.

“Thank you, you made me very proud of you on Friday. Your speech was perfect.” I almost wanted to cry. When I let go of her, she had turned red and let out a toothy smile.

Thanks, Wendy, for allowing me to believe in you. For being you. For tolerating all my pushing and grinding. For showing me you are a real diamond who just needs a bit of polishing. For teaching me an important lesson in life. That all students just need someone who believe in them and that success truly comes to those who perservere.

See you in Hong Kong, Wendy! You may not know it, but you have made me a very happy teacher.

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One Comment on “Oh Wendy”

  1. Jeano Says:

    this is a very moving and inspiring account. I’m only beginning to understand the depth and emotion behind the SS preparation. Thank you for sharing this story. You told it as perfectly as your protagonist’s performance. 🙂

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