One of the prompts for this topic is “Tell a story about the most positive experience you’ve had as an expert in your subject matter.”
I’m not going to tell any of the stories about my actual professional experiences that were positive, but more when I had an adjacent positive experience.
In 2003-2004 I did a Fulbright Teaching Exchange. I swapped jobs and houses with a French teacher. I lived in her house in Strasbourg, France and she lived in mine. I taught English at her high school and she taught French in mine. In October of that year I met another American on a Fulbright scholarship who was studying Chemistry at the university with French chemists.
These Chemists became my Bestest Buddies in all of Strasbourg, France. When I talked about my job as a language teacher aux USA, they mostly just made fun of me in the way that only Bestest Buddies can. “You tell stories? We should go to her class and tell stories!” A
good great time was had by all.
When we came back aux USA, the American went to San Diego to work on his Ph.D. and one of the French chemists came to do a post-doc at UC San Diego. When I could make it down to San Diego we were once again Two Americans and One French Guy. One day the French chemist was telling us a story about how he had missed his plane because he had been locked in an elevator. Only he didn’t use the word missed. He kept saying, “I lost my plane.” It seemed a strange mistake to make to me, since I couldn’t come up with a context in which the French verb rater would mean lost, but language acquisition is a strange thing. I didn’t even think about it and I kept saying back, “Oh you missed your plane? I can’t believe you missed your plane because of the elevator. I’ve never missed a plane.”
My non-language teacher Bestest Buddy, though, sat in the front of the car repeating loudly and sarcastically in only the way Bestest Buddies can, “You lost the plane? Lost? Really lost?”
I thought my recasting was for naught because eventually the conversation degenerated into something else, but later on my French chemist told me, “You’re easy to talk to because you just say the right way back.” It’s not easy to do what we do and it meant a lot that something that came so naturally to me had been actually been noticed and appreciated.
I responded to him, “See- you guys think all I do is tell silly stories, but I’ve got some mad skills.”