That means Happy Teacher’s Day in Bahasa. I heard a lot of it in the hallways in our school yesterday. So did other staff; in fact the lunch room tables were loaded with goodies of all kinds. Students that I taught last semester gave me flowers and cards, and one of my classes, the one pictured here, brought me an enormous cake and insisted on taking a class picture. We were all delighted to take a moment to celebrate our progress as a class together.

I really do enjoy teaching in Asia. I like the curriculum; the opportunity to finally give expression to my life-long love of literature and subtleties of the English language. I like the climate and the opportunities to see a part of the world I had previously only read about. I like being able to support my wife’s important ministry in Cambodia and South-East Asia. But mostly I like the kids.

Asians have not forgotten the importance of family and respect for their elders, including their teachers. Over time this translates into self-respect, for as these kids work hard to please their families and teachers, they grow in competence and ability and see themselves becoming the people they themselves want to be. That joy of accomplishment can be seen on these young faces in the picture.

I have just finished marking their final essay for the term on a thesis they will have to present to their peers and then defend for thirty minutes. They are understandably nervous about the challenge. But I have read their essays, and they have nothing to worry about. This is excellent work, by any standard. Instead of satisfying the requirement that they provide support from nine secondary sources in addition to the two novels they have been asked to compare, many of them have far exceeded that requirement. I have one student who has over twenty citational references from an astonishingly wide range of disciplines.

Marking seventy of these essays is tedious and time-consuming and has occupied every waking minute outside of the classroom for the last week. But it has also been very encouraging to see the growth in research and writing ability that these students display in their work. We only get them for a year in our program, and that year is crucial in their success in university in Canada. It is hard work for all of us. But the students’ genuine respect and appreciation for all that we do for them as teachers is a great encouragement to us to keeping on doing our best for them. It was for me a very Happy Teacher’s Day! Thanks to all my students for making it so.