It wasn’t until I graduated from elementary school that I realized that my grade three teacher, Mr. Ed Gascon, had become one of the most important people in my life. When I first started school, I was afraid of speaking English. I feared that others would make fun of my mistakes. But Mr. Gascon helped me to break this barrier by giving me counsel which made me become who I am today.
Whenever I needed Mr. Gascon’s guidance, he would always give me the same advice: “DO IT!” At first, I was disappointed with the paucity of his words. Compared to the other students, I felt that he always seemed to be in a hurry to give me his advice. However, I had no idea how much those words would impact me as I began my life’s journey. Mr. Gascon’s advice commanded me not to be afraid. His words magically gave me the courage and strength to conquer tasks I found were difficult to accomplish. For instance, I have always shied away from speaking to people because of my incompetency in English. When I first started school, my gut feeling was that I didn’t belong with my “brilliant” classmates. During the few occasions I had to speak, my stomach would feel the “butterfly symptoms” and my mind would go blank. I couldn’t remember at all what I had said. I felt so frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t express myself to others. I often cried and told my parents, “I’m just dumb. I want to give up studying English. I’m sick and tired of this language and the only thing I want to do is to go back to South Korea.”
My parents would reassure me that I wasn’t dumb and I only needed more patience and courage. Then, like magic, I could see those two words clearly in my mind’s eye and hear Mr. Gascon echo them, “DO IT!” This was the catalyst that gave me the courage I needed to put aside all my fears and prejudices and tackle the barrier.
Now, through constant practice, I am no longer shy to speak English to others, but rather take the initiative to interact with others first. I will never forget Mr. Gascon and his words of advice that has molded me to become who I am. Even now, whenever I am faced with difficulties, I would always recall upon in my mind the voice of Mr. Gascon speaking to me his words of advice: “DO IT!”
Yoon, Hyung Tong