Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"I and my pupil" ~ Jane Eyre

"Hi Amy Teacher!"

This is my weekly greeting from Connie as I walk in the door, remove my shoes, place on slippers which have a Burberry pattern on them, and follow her into the kitchen.

Our tutoring sessions never begin with work. They begin with food.

I have worked with Connie for a year and a half now, and I can honestly say that it has become more than just tutoring. I know I have become a mentor to her, and its a responsibility that I am honored to have. She has come to rely on me for advice, and her trust is something I value a great deal. I trust that after she graduates high school we will maintain a kind of special friendship that so many students share with their mentors.

Connie's parents are hard working immigrants who came to the United States from Korea about twenty years ago. They both own businesses and are rarely home; I have a great deal of respect for them both.

However, because they are not around I have become an absentee parent of sorts. During the December vacation, I picked Connie up with coffee in tow for both of us and took her to the MET for the first time in her life. I needed her to see all that we spoke of as far as Renaissance paintings, but I also thought that seeing the Asian Art Wing was also very important. It was an enjoyable day for me because I know she enjoyed all that she saw and it was fun to pontificate all of the facts that my mentor at that age, my father, said to me.

Last year, Connie and I worked on a research paper that compared the Medieval knights to the Samurai, so my favorite part of the visit with her was when we roamed the Arms and Armor section. Our work came to life, and it was great to be excited over a part of the museum I never would have been excited over if it weren't for her and her deep interest in the Samurai.

I had actually never been to the Korean Art section in the MET, so our roles reversed for a half hour and she was teaching me about various aspects of the culture and its language.

After the museum I took her to sushi because, well, there is rarely a time now when we aren't together where we don't eat! I treated her to Haru and we shared a huge plate of sashimi deluxe.

I think that last year when we first met, Connie was surprised to learn my love of Asian cuisine, and since then I have been gracious to receive all kinds of amazing foods to try. At first I thought that she was just being polite, but now I realize I am the guinea pig for her food experiments on Saturdays! Its an honor, let me tell you! Aside from trying various foods in sushi rolls and eating onion pancakes, there are times we also eat cake from Taipan bakery, Korean tea biscuits, and pockee.

Everything about our session is delicious. She is so smart, and although she is exceptionally bright, she is so down to earth and very quiet and sweet.

But I know better than to trust that polite and demure exterior.

She has a wicked sense of humor that makes me spit out my barley tea at times.


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