This is a true story that Vicky, a student I taught at Tianjin Foreign Languages University in Tianjin, China, wrote in response to that assignment. I share it with her permission.
By Vicky (A Student at Tianjin Foreign Languages University)
I always believe everyone has some things in his or her memory and keep them there forever. When he remembers it, he may be happy, sad or come out other kind of feeling.
In my memory, there is a letter that I still keep in my heart deeply. When I recall the letter or when I reread the letter, I always can’t help crying.
That was three years ago. I was a high school student. Most students studied hard and even stayed up all night studying, because in our country not all people can be given the chance to go to university. We must study hard (Can you imagine?) and everyone has pressure. Many of us wanted to go to a famous university, but others were afraid they may not get to go to university at all. We had a lot of homework and exercises to do (I know that’s different from American educational system.)
Everyday I came home tired. I had big pressure. I didn’t like that kind of life. I wanted to do what I was interested in, but I didn’t want my parents to know this because they wanted me to go to a good university and have a good future. I know all of that was good for me. I didn’t want to make them sad.
Once I failed an exam. When I came home crying, my mother saw me, but said nothing. I felt nobody cared about me. So many pressures around me. I was so disappointed. Then, the next day, I went to school as usual. I still remember what a nice day it was. The sky was blue and the flowers were so beautiful. On that day, something happened that changed my life, my thinking. After school, I received a letter. There was no name on it. The letter read:
I am a stranger to you, but we are schoolmates. I have watched you for a long time. I found you have your own ideas on some things and you have courage, self-confidence. In my mind, you influence me a lot and I believe you will go to a good university and have a good future. Please don’t lose your confidence. I want to be your friend, but I will tell you who I am after we graduate, okay?
A stranger cared about me. I couldn’t believe it because I thought nobody would care about me at that special time. It was an exciting thing. So I told myself I must rebuild my confidence and face up to the difficulties. I didn’t want to make the stranger sad or disappointed because he said I had an influence on him. I changed myself every day. When I woke up, I told myself, “You must be successful and smile to everyone!”
Since that day, I received a letter from the stranger every week. I looked forward to the day we would meet, but his letters encouraged me and brightened my life.
When the National University Entrance Exam was over, the stranger made an appointment with me. We would meet at my school gate. I was so excited and wanted to know who it was. When I got to the gate, I was so surprised to see my mother! She ran to me and said, “My dear daughter. I am the stranger!” Can you guess my reaction? My expression? I was crying. It was my mother who encouraged me with many letters.
Today, I still keep those letters. When I reread them, I feel so happy and at the same time I understand even if nobody cares about you, you still have parents. They gave you life, brought you up and gave you guidance. Nothing can replace the relationship you have with your parents because you have the same blood in your bones!