Friday, June 27, 2008

Goodbye, Evelyn

I met Evelyn when I started with the College nearly 11 years ago as an ESL instructor. She was dedicated to her ESL students -- an imaginative and enthusiastic instructor. Students adored her. Her co-workers adored her. She was there with support, ideas, or just time to listen. We shared stories of our students -- funny stories, heartbreaking ones, frustrating tales and tales with happy endings.

Since starting the noncredit program, I hadn't had quite as much chance to see her until she taught for me this past fall at one of our community sites. It was grand to get to see her again and chat with her on a semi-regular basis. Life was an adventure, and she loved it. She was a joyous spirit who touched so many lives in so many wonderful ways.

And now she has left us.

In a tragic accident at their home, she and her husband passed away last week. We are shocked and sad -- and for all of us who knew her, there is now a little missing place in our hearts where her kindness and laughter always were.

Goodbye, Evelyn. We will miss you terribly.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My love for Spanish

I fell in love with the Spanish language when I was in the fifth grade, and I started taking classes when I was 11. I was at a used-book sale at Barnett Elementary School and saw a Spanish textbook. I opened it and started looking through it and was transfixed by a picture of the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. What went through my 10-year-old brain was, “I must go there and see that and meet those people. To do that, I need to learn this language.” I bought the book, but of course made no progress with it at all.

(And when I did finally get to Spain nearly 20 years later, I went to the Alhambra. It was a beautiful day in May. The smell of roses and oranges hung in the air. The sound of water was everywhere from fountains and channels cut into the handrails of the stone staircases. Kittens followed me around looking for just one more bite of the ham sandwich I’d shared with them. Then, without really knowing where I was, I turned a corner and there it was, with sunlight pouring down on it – the Court of the Lions. Just like in the picture so long ago. I stood there and burst into tears.)