Noodle Expert Julie Gordon on learning self-expression from Elie Wiesel, not sweating the small stuff, and struggling through a music theory class in middle school.
Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?
This is a difficult question, as there are so many brilliant people. I think that spending a year learning from Elie Wiesel would be both fascinating and humbling. His experience has been like no other, and he has shown such incredible perseverance throughout his life. I would like to learn from him the ability to stay faithful in the face of adversity. I think it is also important to be willing to tell one's story, and he has told his both poetically and poignantly.
What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?
One piece of (somewhat clichéd) advice that I nonetheless feel resonates strongly with me is not to sweat the small stuff. I find getting caught up in minutiae often detracts from overall experiences, both large and small.
Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?
My love of travel makes this question intriguing. I have traveled to a number of continents and spent time living outside the United States. Hong Kong is a wonderful place to visit and would provide a student with an opportunity to be exposed to a place that feels so comfortable. The people are welcoming, there is so much history and adventure at every turn, and one is always discovering something new. This city is very easy to get around as well.
When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?
When I was in middle school, I took a music theory class, in which I struggled mightily. Most academic classes came very easily to me, but this one frustrated me the entire semester. I worked so hard with little to no success. I finished the class, which at points I did not think I would. I learned the need to finish something I start, regardless of how difficult the task.
Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?
After living overseas, I needed to move back home and look for a job. I began work as a substitute teaching assistant while looking for a nonprofit job. As time wore on, I realized that I loved being in the classroom and that teaching in general was not-for-profit.
It is different from what I expected in terms of the amount of paperwork, as well as parental expectations of you as a teacher.