Our 9th annual Women’s Symposium was just completed this past weekend. It was a fabulous experience for all those who attended as presenters from America, China, India, and Europe. The students were delighted in being able to present their project presentations as well as being assistants to the guests. It truly is a pleasure and an amazing opportunity for the women of the academy to assist and translate for our guests. They make friends with foreigners and open doors for future opportunities. I was so proud of the compliments they received for their unending service, professionalism and availability to do anything they needed them for. We definitely have an elite group of men and women in the academy that stand out like no other.
On Saturday evening we had a mother’s reception (previously known as the mother’s tea). At this event the students invite their mothers and families to attend and stand on the stage and acknowledge them for what they have done for them throughout their lives. It is purely an emotional evening full of mostly tears but also laughter from stories shared. Oh, the stories shared were something else.
One of the men from the academy invited his mother to the stage. She was a very shy, humble woman that was obviously uncomfortable being on the stage. He told stories of what a bad child he was, always getting into trouble, he took someone’s motor bike and broke it. His family had no money to fix it so while he was at school his mother fixed it and had him return it when he got home from school. He held up her hands that were rough, weathered and thick and said she had hands like this because she loved him and worked hard in the fields every day so he could have what he needed. She did not even finish primary school, but now he is in college because she supports him. The whole time he spoke she looked down to the ground and when he told her he loved her and handed her a carnation she smiled and gave him a hug.
A woman from the academy invited her mother to the stage and said she did not get along with her when she was at home. In fact, she did not think her mother loved her that she loved her brother more than her. Since being in the academy she realized she did not communicate well with her mom. She asked her to forgive her and would be willing to communicate more with her and let her love her. They embraced, tears in their eyes and said I Love You.
I pretty much cried throughout the whole evening. As I sat next to another one of my students we shared tissues and cried together. We heard one story after another of the hardships so many of the families have had over the years just trying to feed their children. Many of them were raised by their grandparents because their parents had to work in the city. They are so appreciative of their parent’s hard work and recognize how much they do to make sure their children get an education.
Once again the things I appreciate about these students are their eagerness to learn, their appreciation for their education, the kindness they share, honesty, vulnerability, generosity and willingness to take risks and step out of their comfort zone for growth. It is a great place to be and I am getting very sad to be leaving in a few days.