As a new grad with my first job, I remembered how happy and fun it was to teach my group of students with my enthusiastic colleagues. The students were happy to be in class (unlike a lot of my high school practicum students!). As an experienced professional 20 years later, I was really impressed with the new building, the technology, the library of resources, the professional development, and the ELL expertise of my colleagues.
In one of my classes, there were three Korean teachers working to improve their English. I remember having a conversation with one of them during the break, and he paused and really looked at me and said "you are so kind." He seemed so appreciative that I realized that he had probably had unkind teachers in the past. I never forgot that kindness was a very important quality for ELL teachers as their students are in a new country, learning a new language, needing to take risks but afraid to make mistakes.
The final lunches are very memorable because the students are very emotional. They arrive dressed in beautiful clothes, you present them with their certificates, and even after a three-week course they are crying, hugging you, joking around and taking pictures with you and their classmates until you finally have to tear yourself away, go home, and make dinner. You realize how big an impact this experience has had on them and you hope what you have taught them will help them when they go home.
I have learned so much about other countries from my students (Japan, China, Korea, Mexico, India, Saudi Arabia, etc.), but I especially love the moment when I look at them and I no longer see their country or remember what I heard about their country, I just see a young adult who is brave and funny and a little stressed out but excited to be here and open to new experiences.