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'Opening Doors' - UT Austin A: Person Who Influences You


RRRakolnikov 1 / -  
Oct 20, 2011   #1
Person who influences you (Grandfather chosen),

Opening Doors
An old laminated paper with an aphorism in Chinese on it is taped to my wall. Though it is worn out and faded, I kept it with me because of its origin. The aphorism was written by my grandfather as an encouragement, and it said "The Door to Learning is Understanding." Whenever I have trouble understanding a new concept from class, I ask myself "Where is my Door?" It immediately reminds me of my grandfather, who I dubbed "XX," and how he opened the first Door for me.

XX came to the United States to visit my family when I was ten and he decided to teach me Chinese. Every day, I would come home, throw my backpack into my room, and join XX at our Formica dining table, where he waited, reading the Chicago Tribune. For the first few days, I struggled, desperately trying to memorize the exact strokes and the forms of each and every single word. XX quickly noticed my frustration and told me to put my pencil down. He illustrated the origins of simple Chinese characters such as "water", telling me how it started as a drawing of a crooked creek and then evolved into its modern from. Then, he told me how the more complex characters formed, such as the character for "eat," which incorporated the character for "mouth." I listened with rapt attention, and my new-found interest in the origins of Chinese characters broke down the wall blocking me from learning. These Chinese characters became easy to understand, with their own identities and stories. Learning, XX said, is about understanding a concept, its origins, and its applications. It is never about memorizing.

In his mind, XX only taught my Chinese; in reality, he taught me much more. I have benefited from the idea of understanding material instead of just "learning," which helps me tackle tough tasks. As a Teaching Assistant for the Pre-Calculus and Calculus classes at my high school, I have had many opportunities to teach students what my grandfather had taught me. Last year, a freshman came up to me in Pre-Calculus with a furrowed brow and pursed lips and told me he was struggling with the trigonometric properties they were learning. I sat down and showed him how to obtain the trigonometric identities from basic concepts, and he smiled, saying only "I understand." I smiled too: this was the same way XX taught me to learn Chinese.

XX's proverb has proved invaluable to me through the years, mainly because of a hidden meaning in one character that I cherished the most. When I visited XX in XXXXX, we headed into a shop and I rushed in front of him to open the door, for which he thanked me. His thanks were absolutely unnecessary. I may have opened the door to a shop for him, but he has opened the door to the world for me.

Note: XX denotes the little pet name I've given my grandfather (To show that we were pretty close)
XXXXX is where he lives.

beccalevesque - / 45  
Oct 21, 2011   #2
In his mind, XX only taught myme Chinese; in reality, he taught me much more.

Last year, a freshman came up to me in Pre-Calculus with a furrowed brow and pursed lips and told me he was struggling with the trigonometric properties that they were learning.

I smiled too; this was the same way XX taught me to learn Chinese.

This is good. you wrote of the person who influences you, how he influenced you, and the manner in which you applied the influence.:)


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