“Well, let us do the presentation next class, and this is our first time to do it. The topic is to talk about a kind of disability. Please be careful.”
When I heard this instruction, I felt nervous. What kind of disabilities did I need to choose? How could I do that? I asked myself. This was my first time to give a speech in the IEC class which was taught to international students. I had no idea how to speak and how to prepare it. When I studied in China, I had never done the presentation in the class. We focused on writing and reading in China, and we spent a lot of time preparing for the written exam. Therefore, Chinese teachers didn’t pay attention to our speaking abilities and listening skills. That is why I felt anxious when I heard that I would do the presentation in the front of the class.
Because the presentation was due in two days, I lose my confidence. I sat down to write the draft but I had no thoughts and ideas to complete it. However, what I needed was not just ideas but spiritual support. So, I called my mother. She told me that I could’t sit still, and I needed to do something. Furthermore, she said that I could not give up and I could not do something before I tried it. After I talked to my mom, I also decided to send an Email to my teacher for help. Several years later, she responded to me and gave me some suggestions, such as: relaxing myself, writing down what I thought and organizing my thoughts. I just followed her instructions. Then, I collected and selected my information about disability. Two days later, I had prepared my presentation completely. In the class, although I was still nervous because of my poor pronunciation, I was full of self-confidence about my presentation details. Along with music, I used my computer to show some pictures about my topic. Finally,I did my presentation successfully. This experience showed me that to be academically successful, students need to believe in themselves. They need to know where to get the emotional and spiritual support, as well as academic help, when they need to regain their self-confidence.
From my experience, I learned that you can’t go on well in life until you let your past failures and heart aches go off. Because of cultural differences and languages, I always lose myself in academic life. However, I found my spiritual support, namely my mom and my teacher. They gave me encourage. Therefore, believe in yourself as a light to illuminate my life, gives me self-confidence.
Believing in yourself is also useful in other academic aspects. There is another experience that I had in the US which cannot forget. This involved finding my own voice. One year ago, I took an economics class. When the professor asked some questions in that class, everyone could answer the question at anytime. They just wanted to show what they thought and what ideas that they had. As for me, I was shy. I did not like to answer in class, because I had never done so in China. In addition, I was an international student. I always acted as a listener in each class. Not only was my habit, but also my spoken English was not very fluent. In this situation, I had no self-confidence to answer the questions by myself.
Once, my professor asked a question about the Chinese economy. All students in the class did not know the answer except me. For that question, I knew the exact answer, but I could not speak fluently, so I just said a key word in a low voice. At that time, the professor heard my voice, and he point at me and wanted me to speak loudly. Suddenly, my face went red when all the classmate looked at me. Actually, I felt a little afraid. “No, you have to stand up, this is a good opportunity to build yourself.” I told to myself. Although I had no confidence, I had to overcome this difficulty. Therefore, I just said clearly what I knew. After my answer, my professor gave me applause. I knew he wanted to encourage me to take part in the class, and practice expressing my own opinion. I was also quite pleased with myself. After this experience, I changed my habit and tried to answer more. I tried my best to answer questions that were asked by my professor, and I attempted to discuss with other American students. After that, I found that my spoken English had an obvious progress. Once I was able to find my own voice, my self-confidence greatly increased.
Both those experience were memorable for me. Although I was shy to speak my opinions, I changed myself and practiced to speak a lot. Because of my professor’s praise, I became more and more self-confidence. Although my spoken English was not fluent, I believed that I could speak quickly and clearly likes other Americans through my exercises. In China, I developed a bad habit that I never stated my own opinion in the class. However, I challenged this bad habit after taking this economics class.
In America, I became more and more self-confident when I gave a speech or communicated with others to regain my confidence. Although I faced many obstacles here, I tried my best to overcome the challenges. These difficulties would improve my abilities in many ways. In addition, being a listener is a way to improve myself. However, being a speaker is a good way to collaboratively study with your classmates, and this is important part in our academic life. Furthermore, finding spiritual support helpful, but we still have to learn how to become independent. A part of self-confidence comes from finding a supporter.
Especially, for international students, we have to learn that nobody can helps us, we need to do everything by ourselves and believe in ourselves. Spiritual support that others give, helps me to gain the self-confidence that I need to become more independent. All in all, I think that no matter how terrible problems we face are, we need to believe in ourselves. This is the most important lesson of my academic study in the United States.