Community and Faraway Family


#sol17- October 3, 2017

A few weeks ago I got an email from the mom of one of my students. Until that point, it had always been the dad who emailed, as he is the stay at home parent. She was letting me know that her husband was going to be back “home” for three weeks helping take care of a family situation. Living here in Kuala Lumpur, Canada is very far away,  but thanks to technology the father and son were able to keep in close touch.

This student loves to chat and often works his way to the front of the line at the end of the day so that he has extra talk time with me. Yesterday he was a little disappointed- his dad was supposed to be home on the weekend, but had to extend his time away.

Then last night I got an email from the mom- her husband’s father had died, he just did not recover from the heart surgery he had recently had. She let me know that her son would be in class today, but that they would then be flying to Canada and not return until after our October break. She said that she would work with him a bit on schoolwork while away.

In my response, I, of course, started with expressing my condolences. I let her know that I knew that family time was the priority at this time, but promised to keep her son informed. I also let her know that today if her son wanted some quiet time during any of the recesses he could just stay in class.

First thing in the morning he came on up. “Was it the grandfather that you write and talk about so much?” I asked.

“No, this was my other grandfather- he was my oldest grandparent,” he said and after expressing my sympathy I showed him how to access his email, Google Drive, and Google Classroom on a computer that he had not previously used (as his school computer stays at school). I promised him that I would write him from time to time and keep him somewhat up to date on what was going on.

As the day went on he kept dropping hints to his classmates that he was not going to be at school for awhile. “Are you sure you do not want to say anything?” I asked.

“Okay,” he said, “at the end of the day.”

Then in the next minute, he said, “Okay, you can tell them now.”

After I told the class the reason he would be missing many students commiserated and told him stories of their grandparents who had already died (and in some cases their unedited versions of how and why they may have died).

It was heartwarming to see the natural and open way the students spoke to him and the relief he seemed to feel after sharing his news. We will miss him over the next three weeks, but I know that the students will welcome him back when he returns. Although his biological family is in Canada, his school family is here for him too.



*** Former student, Zhi Hong, keeps slicing.


4 thoughts on “Community and Faraway Family

  1. Denise Krebs

    What a sweet slice of life for you and your student. I’m glad he wanted to share with his school family, and that he received comfort for doing so. I know how it is to be away from your home country, and close to your new “family” in a new place. All the best to you and especially to your little friend. (By the way, you might need to check the middle of your post for some repetitions, or are my eyes playing tricks on me?)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s