In one word, how would you describe your Christmas vacation?
I gave each of my adult business English students a pale blue hashtag-imprinted post-it. The students kind of gave me a funny look, then took out their pens and began to write.
When they were done, I asked them to stick them on the conference room whiteboard.
“What should I write?”, I asked, thinking aloud.
“Wonderful!”, someone quipped.
“Not so sure…”, I responded, then thought for a moment. “Sure, it was wonderful”. I repeated the word as wonder – full for extra emphasis.
“Teaching moment!”, I realized. I can teach them about the many meanings of the word ‘wonder’. I laughed. It was wonder-full. Full of wonder. Wonder can mean awe, surprise, to be stunned, to be amazed, to be impressed by something bigger than self.
I then asked the group to choose one of the papers and interview the person who wrote it.
Once we had reviewed open and closed question formation with past tense verbs, we began.
My turn. “So, why was your Christmas vacation wonderful?”, the student asked.
I explained. It had been a wonder-full period.
My brother-in-law passed away suddenly on December 31 from cancer. Shock. Disbelief. Anger at apparent medical error. Pleasure and pride to hear of how his colleagues had honoured him at work by wearing bowties, in his own signature style.
“How is that wonder-full?”, you may ask. Three ways. Three words: life, language, learning.
Life. It’s precious, out of our control. You never know how long you have.
Language. The Saturday before passing away, Ben, my brother-in-law was looking through the photos of the trip to Switzerland he and my sister had taken last summer. My sister later shared some of the comments he had made about the trip. Those words became extra meaningful, and valuable, personal memories. Words are powerful.
Learning. I spent the first week of 2019 at my sister’s place. I realized firsthand how important it is to have records up-to-date, in order and accessible to get the legal and financial paperwork underway. I saw the cards and flowers and meals caring neighbours and friends dropped off, sent and had delivered. I witnessed my sister’s reaction to sympathetic calls and texts. I was floored. It was a sobering, yet essential, learning experience.
Throughout the year to come, we’ll all have our share of life, language and learning. To what extent we make 2019 wonder-full, will be up to us.
To varying degrees, our language class ended with us all reflecting on the following three questions:
- What can we do here and now to make the best of the life I have?
- What can I say today to those around me to encourage and help them?
- What can I learn today from what I am experiencing?
Whatever the following months hold, have a wonder-full 2019!
Any comments or ideas? Just drop a note below. I’d love to hear from you! – Claire