Deborah Robbins


By Rachel Ma

The first time I saw Deborah was in the classroom of English Conversation class. I don’t remember what we talked about, but her smile really impressed me, which was like a warm breeze in a cold winter.

The interview was conducted at Deborah’s home. Her living room was very wonderfully bright, cozy and comfortable. Deborah likes knitting. She organized a knitting group and has welcomed the participation of everyone. By the way, Deborah had just taught me how to knit a scarf. I really enjoy the process. Influenced by her, I think I start to fall in love with knitting.

In her house there are a lot of beautiful small ornaments such as small bottles and extremely attractive teacups. What a perfect life! She decorates her house beautifully, warm and clean. While she was sitting in a comfortable chair, I sat on the carpet near her. I remembered that I always enjoyed the time sitting around my grandmother and listening to her reading some stories to me.

Deborah’s family emigrated from Europe to America. Her mother’s ancestors came from Denmark and her father’s mother’s family came on the Mayflower from the England.


Deborah was born in Michigan. The weather there is colder than New Jersey. During her childhood she had a lot of fun. She iceskated and made snowmen in winter. But before Deborah grew up, she moved away from there, and started her school life.

When Deborah was 17, she left home and went to college in Ohio. She had to move again. But Deborah said that she actually enjoyed moving: new environment, new friends, and everything new.

When she was 21 years old, she met her first husband. They moved to Boston together, where they studied and worked. After 5 years, they moved to New York. When Deborah left her husband, she decided to go back to Boston, and started to study library science.

Among our conversation, the thing I have remembered most is Deborah’s bicycle travel. She and her husband took part in a 6-week bicycle travel when she was 23. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe how adventurous Deborah was before. She looks so gentle and kind. They set out from Boston, crossed the entire United States, and arrived in Vancouver in Canada. Every day she rode 70-80 miles. This was also very romantic when she and her husband rode together and encouraged each other. When they arrived in Vermont, she faced a steep road, her husband was always by her side, and her husband told her, “Come on! You can do it! ” I asked Deborah whether they had photographs. Deborah shook her head and said,” We did not take any pictures. Now, many people take lots of pictures. But our pictures are in our mind, and this is the best and most impressive photos.” Deborah’s face was full of memories and happiness.

At the age of 28, Deborah met her second husband, David Robbins, who is most important to her. They met in New Hampshire, then got married and had lived in New York and Virginia before they moved to New Jersey.

Inspired by Deborah’s father, Deborah started to learn Recorder after she moved to Princeton. She met a very good teacher and was able to improve her skills dramatically. Then she started to teach children to play the recorder soon by herself. Because of this work, her life and music cannot be separated. I asked her in the interview, “What influence do you think music has had on your life?” She told me that the music had made her more enjoy her life.

After she moved to Princeton, Deborah was pregnant and gave birth to a boy. Now her son lives in New York and he is musician. Deborah showed me a picture. In the photograph, her son looked very handsome and stood next to his wife, who is a pianist. Deborah’s son plays the piano very well too.

Ten years ago when her husband died, was the worst time period in her life. She had to keep working and working so that the busy work schedule could help her pay less attention to the fact her husband passed away. When she said this, I could feel her pain and sadness and couldn’t help wanting to hold her and comfort her. But Deborah responded me with a smile. I knew that David did not leave her andtheir love would be with her forever.

When I asked what encouraged Deborah to do voluntary work, her eyes filled with happiness. She told me that she liked to make friends, and she loved everything here. In China, working as a volunteer is relatively less common. Volunteers here give up their free time, and help us with patience. I admire them very much.

I asked Deborah, “Do you have any plan for your future?” She told me that she wouldn’t leave Princeton. Since she has best friends here, and she would teach the students and continue being a volunteer.

=> This article was reviewed by Deborah Robbins




Filed under Tutors

4 responses to “Deborah Robbins

  1. Eunsil Lee

    Great article!!! Rachel.

    Yes, she made us to fall in love with knitting.

  2. brianzack

    An excellent article. Thanks, Rachel!

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