Today, as I do most Sundays, I went to church. After the service, there is always an elaborate coffee hour for people to socialize and catch up on the week’s events.
I noticed one of the older members of our church, Irina, sitting by herself at the edge of the room. She was smiling and happy, just taking in the scene of people buzzing around in front of her.
I already knew some about Irina. She was born in Moscow, and her early childhood was spent in Russia. Additionally, although she doesn’t look a day over 80, Irina recently celebrated her 98th birthday.
I decided to take the opportunity to go over and ask her how her week was.
Every time I talk to Irina, I am fascinated by her. She has a way of making you feel calm, peaceful, and content. She told me of how she immigrated to the United States when she was 5 years old and how she remembers trying to learn English. She now knows Russian, English, French, and German (she studied for a year at the University of Vienna).
She had no shortage of questions for me, either! He first was, “How old are you?” She nearly didn’t believe me when I told her I was turning 24 in a little over 2 weeks. Her response was, “And here I am talking to you like you’re only 13! You look so young!” (Story of my life… I’ve been denied drinks countless times at bars.)
When she asked what I’m doing and what path I’m on for my life, I explained my masters program and my internship. She was elated to hear that I was going into education, and even more excited to learn that I had strong interest in 1st grade.
She told me that I need to read poetry to them, and have them even memorize some poems. She said that to this day, she can still remember the poems that she was taught in school during her first year in America. She even went as far as to say that she plans to find some of her European fairytale books and poems over the week to bring with her to church next Sunday, “So we can read them together,” she said.
She brightened my day so substantially. I have such a respect for and awe of the older generation. There is so much they have to offer, a vast amount of knowledge and wisdom. I love taking any possible opportunity to talk to them and see what small advice they can offer me that day.