A teacher’s odyssey
“You are enough, a thousand times enough.”—@AtticusPoetry
To be a teacher was my childhood dream. I can still remember how, at my day care graduation, I recited my “when I grow up” speech in front of a small crowd in our barrio hall. I can still remember what I wore on that fateful day: a formal white blouse and a red pencil-cut skirt, lipstick, and a small shoulder bag slung on.
I believe everyone heard me even if they did not really listen to what a 5-year-old had to say. I believe I was trembling then. I still tremble whenever I speak to a crowd, you know.
In Grade 6, our teacher told my classmates and me to write down our respective ambitions; she said these would be included in the souvenir program to be given out on graduation day. I wrote “doctor of education” although I didn’t know what a doctor of education does. But to my dismay, my teacher wrote “journalist” instead. What the heck is a journalist? I wondered. Is it someone who makes journal notebooks? I never asked my teacher about it.
In high school, I participated in the Division Schools Press Conference for three years and I won a few awards. So I became interested in journalism. I said to myself, “My Grade 6 teacher might be right in putting ‘journalist’ as my ambition.” I decided that I’d take mass communication in college.
In my fourth year in high school, I encountered the question “What is your ambition?” again, for inclusion again in the graduation souvenir program. I wrote “accountant.” This time, I knew what an accountant does. Regrettably, I rejected my dream of becoming a journalist. My parents could not afford to send me to a university in Cagayan de Oro or in other cities.
When I graduated from high school, I was blessed to be chosen as one of the scholars of the province of Bukidnon. I was very elated that my parents would not be anymore burdened with my school fees—plus lodging expenses and book allowances—for four years. All I needed to do was get good grades. However, I was faced with the dilemma of choosing a course that I would be good at. So I decided against my will, and followed God’s will in my life. I decided to work on a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, major in English. At least, I thought, if I couldn’t become a journalist at work, I could be a journalist by heart through writing. I was happy and miserable, full and hungry at the same time. But I enjoyed my stay in Bukidnon State University for the excitement.
I graduated in March 2012 with flying colors. It was just “plus happiness” for me. What made me most happy was the fact that I survived the four-year extra challenge of being a scholar of Bukidnon. I hoped that I made my family proud and happy, too.
And the final test of what I had learned for four years was looming: the licensure examination for teachers (LET). I had planned to focus on reviewing for the exam, but I was called by Bukidnon Faith Christian School Inc. (BFCSI): A teacher in Filipino was needed urgently. I grabbed the opportunity and, while reviewing, I taught the Filipino in the school.
I passed the LET! And I taught English and Filipino in BFCSI for two years!
Then I decided to go full sail on my professional journey. I applied for a Teacher I position and was eventually hired in Kalabugao National High School. It was one of the biggest decisions I had made in my whole life. The school is located in a far-flung area where there is no mobile network connection, and the road is a literal roller-coaster ride. But I accepted the challenge. I believe that God has a reason for everything.
In my two years in the school, I’ve learned a lot of things, both personal and professional. I’ve learned to be independent. I cook my food, I do my laundry, I sleep alone. I’ve never been so far from my family. I cannot readily call my mother if I don’t feel well or if I want chicken soup. I’ve learned to be resourceful and to be prepared. I cannot just browse the internet if I want to, or scan some reference books. So I have to do research during weekends, if I’m in Malaybalay City.
Last June 12, I again “climbed” the “mountain.” What better way to celebrate Independence Day than to do my job and “serve my fellow Filipinos”? June 13 was the first day of the school year 2016-2017. I had to be at my station a day before to prepare my lesson plan, visual aids, instructional materials, and myself. This is the life of a teacher, and I’m embracing it.
Kudos to all the teachers who risk their lives, who have to walk kilometers, who have to be away from their families (especially for those in places with no network connection) to carry out one mission: to teach Filipino children.
Each of us has a story to tell—of how we ended up being a teacher, of how we trudged our way to become a teacher, of how we brave wind and rain just to be at our work stations, of how we shed tears upon leaving our family for work.
There will be more problems and pitfalls, as well as triumphs and victories, along the way. But this is for certain: I will survive because, like Odysseus, I will always go back to “Ithaca.” Whenever I get discouraged, I close my eyes and remember the 5-year-old girl wearing a formal white blouse and red pencil-cut skirt, with her lipstick and her small shoulder bag, reciting the infamous “when I grow up” speech. And I open my eyes and imagine Atticus telling me, “You are enough, a thousand times enough.”
Zynara G. Sareno, 24, teaches English at Kalabugao National High School in Impasugong, Bukidnon.
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