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A Teacher, a Friend
Author:Siying Wu  Date:2015-11-13  Clicks:

“Steve is a very kind man at first sight, always smiling to everybody,” commented Fan about his first impression of Steve, his foreign colleague. In a café, we met our interviewee, Mr. Steve McClure, a tall, slim, hale and hearty gentleman. Standing there, he greeted us gently, “Hello, nice to meet you.” With our sight blocked by an unnecessary lamp dangling over the table, still, we could sense his warm and relaxing smile, carrying his hospitality, the same as Fan’s depiction.

Speaking of China, Steve never attempted to conceal his genuine affection. “The moment I got out of the airport, I could sense the hospitality of Chinese people. Lots of people would come and talk to me, offering their help. I have never received more welcome anywhere else.” Having Stayed in Wuhan for several years, he has claimed this city as his second hometown. “It’s nice here. Many of the people I know from Washington DC are here. People go back and forth. The United States and China are connected.” Deeply rooted in his nature, his love for China grows fonder every day. 

As an English consultant of LIESMARS (Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying Mapping Remote Sensing) in Wuhan University, for many graduate students who are suffering from anxiety and desperation stemming from the arduous struggle for their master degrees or PhDs, Steve is a lifesaver. Whether it is to get their papers published in academic journals or simply to pluck up their courage in international conferences, he teaches them everything.

He described his priority as a consultant, saying“It’s like I’m working in a one-person writing center, providing students with resources they need, so that I can give them feedback on the grammar, on the structure and help them get their papers published.”Unlike other tutors, Steve always emphasizes the structure instead of the specific content. According to him, the structure of a paper, above all the other aspects, serves as aspine to maintain the coherence of the paper. Unfortunately, even now, the importance of having a strong backbone to support the arguments in a scholarly paper is still frequently overlooked by Chinese students.

In spite of some predictable obstacles and impediments, his effort has proved to be effective and worthwhile. “We never count the exact number of students who have benefited from my help, but I guess, fifty or sixty?” He laughed, eyes sparkling with excitement and pride. He perfectly understands the overwhelming pressure his students face, therefore, instead of giving them euphemistic consultation he would rather directly point out the issues. “I have to inform them of their problems in the quickest and most direct way. This can sometimes be humiliating and even hurtful,” Steve acknowledged. “Sometimes, it’s meaner to be nice.” To him, to achieve success, there is a price to pay.

Apart from editing papers for students, Steve is also in charge of an English Corner, which provides a free space for students to practice and demonstrate their talents in English. By selecting their favorite forms of activities, including Halloween parties and baseball games, andactively participating in them,, students can develop a better understanding of American culture. Of course, apart from those recreational social events, the focus must be on academics from time to time. Sometimes, students are asked to take the stage and make presentations. Sitting in the audience, Steve acts as  a judge with a critical eye. According to Steve, it isoften the students’ lack of confidence instead of any deficit in professional knowledge or academic background that becomes the main obstacle which hinders students and prevents them from being acknowledged universally and globally. There is no shortcut to success but repetition and practice, which, in his opinion, are the key to everything. Enlightened by his professional judgments and most sincere guidance, students regard Steve as a trustworthy mentor who always supports them in their pursuit of dreams without any reservation.

As an expert in GIS himself, Steve is surprisingly modest. “Everyone should be humble,” he said, nodding and smiling. Dedicating himself to the success of students, Steve has earned a stellar reputation, as well as a seat in the front row with some of the most renowned professors in the field. “I don’t deserve it,” repeated Steve several times during the interview. “People’s attention can be very embarrassing and overwhelming, especially when you don’t deserve that special treatment.” In spite of his insistence upon modesty, his selfless commitment will continue to be a beacon of hope that guides people even in the darkest times.

(Edited by Editing Group, Gretchen & Sijia)

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