Al Yonan and I shared an office with one desk, two chairs and jalousie windows – always open. We looked out on a lawn with one apparently dead stick sticking up in the middle. Nine months later, a leaf poked out, then a pod, then a fantastic beautiful flower – it was a Bombax. Then, it was gone, just the stick waiting for another year to pass.
My teaching assignment was the required Speech 145, AND, surprise – to teach all local students to speak Standard American English – like me, assuming that was what I spoke.
First, I had to learn in what ways the local students spoke “pidgin”, the local dialect. All students had to be tested – whew!
Trying to teach correct pronunciation to so many local students seemed a daunting task until I had the brilliant idea to recruit other students to help. I was allowed 5 teaching aids, girls who were planning to be teachers, to work with me. I taught them a course in Linguistics, and made sure they spoke perfectly.
Ester, one of the girls, went on to get a doctorate, and returned to thank me for her instruction. She got a job in California teaching English to Japanese students. She had the confidence to reassure a Japanese student that even though she was of Japanese heritage, she was speaking and teaching perfect Standard American English. Ester later became a Professor at Michigan State University, my alma mater.
I was pleased, and proud, to receive a merit wage increase for the innovative peer teaching program. The instructor I was replacing extended her leave, so we stayed on a second year.
Then Al moved to Oahu, the department expanded, and I was asked to stay on – hurrah!