holding a space for truth, beauty and love so that another can see their own truth, beauty and inner power that comes from knowing themselves as love. In this space, a person can step into even more of who he/she is and be empowered to fully be themselves.
Why I Teach TOEFL
I didn't teach TOEFL because it's about a test. I taught TOEFL because I got to be a part of someone's life. I got to learn about their goals. I saw their fears. I saw their dreams. For me, this was a great honor.
On the surface level, I demonstrate how to strategically move through this test. That’s important. But, what else is happening in this exchange between us? What is really going on beneath the surface?
I once had a student in my class from Saudi Arabia. She needed 90 points on the TOEFL test so she could apply for an MBA (Master’s of Business Administration) program. She told me she needed an MBA so that she could gain business experience. Her dream was to open a fully equipped gym for women in Saudi Arabia. It all began when she was a young girl, secretly gathering her friends together in her uncle’s backyard so that they could play soccer. It wasn’t acceptable for women to play in public. They had to keep it a secret. Her dream was a revolutionary idea. She dreamt of freedom.
TOEFL isn’t just a test. It is a bridge to something greater. Perhaps it is a bridge to the place where your wildest dreams become reality. It is about your growth. It is about your idea that started as a seed. Now you are watering that dream seed, so that it can grow into something that is even bigger than you imagined.
There are students who do not yet know what their dreams are. I honor you too. I am here for you. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at the age of 18 or 20 or 25. Even now, I am sometimes uncertain. That is okay. Life is uncertain. Remember what you were doing at age 5 or 6 or 7. Were you dancing? Singing? Were you playing in the dirt? Building castles in the summer sun? Remember your essence. Remember your passion. Your dream seed starts there.
Also, please know that I recognize that many students are forced to take TOEFL. Your parents, who are concerned for your safety and stability in this world, have told you that you should go into business or become a lawyer or a doctor. You may not be interested in any of those fields, but to please your parents, to fit in with social norms, you start to consider. In order to get into a university that offers such programs, TOEFL is required. On top of that, the English language is the predominant language in this age of economic globalization. I am well aware of the violence of colonialism and imperialism in our present day and historically. Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s right that students who wish to study in their own country be required to take the TOEFL. I don’t think it’s right that people are forced to study English just to get a job. I feel sad and sick over this situation. So, for the student who feels angry and confused about why they are forced to take TOEFL, know that I am here for you as well. Together with you, I want to change the world for the better.
You might say that there’s nothing we can do to change the world. I hear that a lot. Do you want to know what I did? First, I listened to my students from all over the world. I listened to them exchange stories. I watched as they connect with each other and discovered that though their traditions may be different, their human hearts speak the same language. I shared the stories of their traditions with my friends. I shared their stories of civil war in their country and economic instability. I told my friends about my students’ strength. Then, I wrote readings and lectures about how our bodies are capable of miraculous healing. I wrote about how the universe is spectacular.
I write about the mysteries. I write about how powerful human beings really are. If I'm doing anything less than that, then it isn't worth doing.
So, on the surface, it might seem to be about the test.
But for me, and for others who are seeking, TOEFL Land is about the tree of life.
It’s about the dream seed.
It's about growth.
It’s about stretching.
It’s about going far beyond what you even thought possible.
It’s about thriving.
It’s about you observing your own courage.
It’s about you stepping into the next more powerful version of yourself.
And for me, meeting you at this moment in this stage of your life’s journey is everything.