Little Sweet Victories

NoThere is a boy in sixth grade that knows how to say one word well.

He wouldn’t answer questions. He wouldn’t read. He wouldn’t stand in front of the class. He wouldn’t play games. He wouldn’t open his book. Had this boy not been so insistent about not participating I may have overlooked him entirely.

The harder I’d try, the more he’d resist. The more I’d engage, the more he’d shut me out. This kid was officially driving me crazy.

Then a Chinese teacher told me to stop worrying about the boy.

“He never tries. All the teachers give up on him. We don’t want him at our school. His parents have money. He can be at this school and we just ignore him.”

Everyone else had given up on the boy. Would you?

I met with my boss and she listened empathetically. The next day she met with the boy and learned he’s afraid of trying and failing. He thinks other students will laugh at him if he says words incorrectly.

For the next two weeks this boy’s fear of failure inspired our lessons. Over 600 students learned about failure and that we’ve all tried and failed in some way. Then the following week we learned about success. All the while reenforcing that if we never try, we never fail (or succeed). It’s okay to fail. When we fail, we learn and grow.

I can happily report that almost a month later this boy is doing great! By simply trying he discovered a good set of pronunciation skills and a new sense of confidence. He’s participating in class, smiling and talking to me around campus. I feel like I’ve won the lottery!

We’re here to help in any way we can and encourage each other to be our best selves. To let people know you’ve got their back if they try and fail. And it’s these little sweet victories that ultimately give our lives purpose, fuel us with passion, and prepare us for the next challenge.

What are some of your little sweet victories?

About Michael

Michael Venske lives in a third-tier Chinese city where he is chronicling (mis)adventures for his next solo performance endeavors tentatively titled: "The China Sketch Show" & "Art of the Chinese Selfie." He's the creator/performer of "Thumbs Up" which premiered at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C. and winner of the 2011 CTV "Hot Mic" Award. Michael knows how to use chopsticks, cook rice, and entertain children.
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4 Comments

  1. You are in very meaningful work, Michael, and allowing yourself to be used for good! You will never be forgotten by these students as one who cared enough to research a way to communicate. Blessings on you, dear one.

  2. I’m so proud of you.

  3. Thank you, Andrew!

    Did you ever get that finger painting? I can’t remember asking or hearing…

  4. Glennys, please remember that it was over breakfast when you told me how you and your family spent many years doing great works abroad. It was YOU who inspired me – thank YOU! May the circle of doing good continue to turn!

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