Did you miss part one? Read the beginning of the story of how Connie Mom became China’s English coach here.
Coaching Students to National Victory
Jiangxi Normal University assigned Connie to teach English and writing classes. On her own, she also started a translation club, a storytelling troupe, and speech and public speaking classes. In her “spare time,” she founded an English library and held seminars for students and educators all over the country.
Two years after Connie arrived in Asia, one of her students did what no one from poor Jiangxi had done before. Li Jiayu won second place in a nationally-televised English public-speaking competition.
Two years later, Connie’s student Ai Lisha won first place in the same competition. By then, it had become the most prestigious English-speaking contest in China.
Connie’s motivation was to show people God’s love, not to gain recognition. But the recognition came anyway. Teachers from top universities who had met Connie at contests started attending her seminars.
Lina Shi said, “Connie has become a legend in the English public speaking cause in China. [Tweet that!]Her passion and dedication have enabled students to rise from obscurity to excellence.”
From the President to the Proletariat
In 2004, at a State banquet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Connie was given a solid gold medallion. She had won the National Friendship Award. The next day, Premier Wen Jiabao congratulated her at a special reception. That evening, she attended a State dinner with President Hu Jintao.
In 2011, China’s largest university press created an award just for Connie. In 2014, the China Society for Research on International Professional Personnel Exchange and Development named her the Favorite Foreign Teacher of Chinese Students.
But no matter how famous Connie grew, she continued to make time for ordinary people. She even cleaned and painted her favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant with her speech class and some visiting Americans.
“She would hug every one,” her student Penny said. “Flash her huge grin to every passerby, take photos with drivers, gatekeepers and remember to send them a photo afterwards.”
The Secret to Her Success
In 2006, the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press asked Connie to write a book. They wanted to know how she coaches and why her students become so successful. Two years later, they published A Guidebook to English Public Speaking Training.
But what is the secret to her success?
Connie said, “Mostly I try to see the best they can be, believe in them and all their possibilities. [Tweet that!] Actually, it all boils down to love. I love them.”
Jenny Owens, an American who also taught in Jiangxi Province, saw this love in action. “Many have stared with bug eyes and mouth open because they have never experienced such love,” she said. “And those who get a second and third taste usually come back for more. People are seeing Jesus. She has been his hands to so many.”
“There is no way I could ever come up with this kind of love myself,” Connie is quick to admit. “God has given me this love for them and for China. Left to my own ability, my passion and love would fall short, dwindle and die. Only God’s continual love and prompting could keep me coming back for 15 years.”
An absolutely beautiful story about a beautiful soul. God’s work through human kindness and love will never cease to overwhelm me. Thank you for this article!!
Amen and you’re very welcome! 🙂 Connie was an incredible woman, and I’m honored to have the privilege to tell her story. Did you get to read the conclusion yet? If not, here it is! 🙂 https://www.christybrunke.com/blog/connie-gibson-chinas-english-coach/
Connie was my Sister. Connie found her birth father (my birth), 1990. I immediately had a new Sister. I loved her from the beginning. You have painted such a beautiful picture of Connie . Connie was all of this and more. I want to print your story so I can share with my friends and family the wonderful sister and friend of mine. Thank you.
Thank you, Maureen! 🙂 I think I remember Connie telling me about you years ago when we were both in China. She loved you dearly. Feel free to print the three-part story and share it with your friends and family. 🙂
Thank you Christy for the articles. Connie was my Sister as well. She was an amazing and extraordinary woman. To me, she was not only my Sister, but my second mother and we were best friends. She was a great example of Gods love. She touched everyone she met. She truly was a legend in China. I saw it for myself when I visited her there. She loved China and her students so much. She was amazing!
So true, Nancy!!! 🙂 So sorry for your loss!!!
Never met a person as inspirational as Mom Connie who lived to the full potential of her legend, a true legend of my life. I shall see you mom in Heaven!
Amen! 🙂 I also look forward to that day and, once again, getting one of her huge Connie-Mom hugs!!! 🙂