The Gift of Teaching
I always loved school, but I never realized how much until I almost lost it. It was my senior year of college, and I was looking forward to graduating with honors and pursuing my dream of becoming a journalist. I had worked hard for four years, taking challenging courses, joining extracurricular activities, and making lifelong friends. I especially enjoyed my English classes, where I learned from the most eccentric and inspiring professors I had ever met. They taught me how to think critically, write creatively, and appreciate literature in all its forms.
But then, everything changed. In the middle of the fall semester, I started feeling sick. I had nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. I thought it was just a bad case of food poisoning, but it turned out to be something much worse. In the past, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach muscles don’t work properly and food stays in the stomach for too long. This condition caused me to develop a severe infection and septic shock, a life-threatening complication where the body’s organs fail due to low blood pressure. I had to be hospitalized immediately. The doctors told me I needed intensive care and antibiotics as soon as possible, or else I wouldn’t make it.
I was devastated. How could this happen to me? Why now, when I was so close to finishing my degree and starting my career? What about all the plans I had made for the future? I felt like my life was over.
But then, something amazing happened. My professors reached out to me and offered their support. They told me they were sorry to hear about my condition, and that they wanted to help me in any way they could. They said they would let me Zoom into their classes from the hospital, and that they would adjust the deadlines and requirements for my assignments. They said they would do everything in their power to make sure I graduated on time and with honors.
I was touched by their kindness and generosity. They didn’t have to do this for me. They could have easily said that I had to withdraw from their courses or take an incomplete grade. They could have focused on their own work and research, or on their other students who were physically present in the classroom. But they didn’t. They chose to care about me, and to give me a chance to continue my education despite my illness.
They also made me feel less alone and isolated in the hospital. They would chat with me before and after class, asking me how I was doing and what I needed. They would share jokes and stories with me, making me laugh and smile. They would send me emails and messages, checking up on me and encouraging me. They would even send me cards and gifts, such as books, magazines, puzzles, and snacks.
They were more than just teachers. They were mentors, friends, and heroes.
They also inspired me to keep fighting for my life. They showed me that there was still hope and beauty in the world, even when everything seemed dark and hopeless. They showed me that there was still something worth living for: learning.
They made learning fun, engaging, and very unique. They taught me about topics that fascinated me, such as poetry, mythology, drama, and film. They challenged me to think outside the box, to express myself freely, and to explore new perspectives. They praised me for my work, gave me constructive feedback, and helped me improve my skills. They also shared their own passions and experiences with me, making me admire them even more.
They taught me not only about English, but also about life.
They taught me how to be resilient, optimistic, and courageous in the face of adversity.
They taught me how to be compassionate, empathetic, and generous towards others who are suffering.
They taught me how to be curious, creative, and adventurous in pursuing my dreams.
They taught me how to be a better person.
They gave me the gift of teaching.
And thanks to them, I made it through the hardest time of my life. I responded well to the treatment and antibiotics, and I recovered from the infection and septic shock. I regained my health and strength. I completed all my coursework online from the hospital bed or from home when I was discharged. And finally, I graduated with honors from college in the spring.
I was so proud of myself for achieving this milestone, but I couldn’t have done it without my professors. They were there for me every step of the way, cheering me on and celebrating with me. They congratulated me warmly and told me how happy they were for me to have graduated against the odds.
They also told me how proud they were of me.
And that meant more to me than anything else.
Because they were not only my teachers.
They were also students.
And they gave me the gift of learning.