I was startled for a minute, hiding my surprise with a smile for this mind-boggling question at six in the morning. And as I started to organize my thoughts to answer, my student's anticipating eyes shattered it. I smiled once more, unable to come up with a full answer. That innocent look. A blank slate. Full of potentials. My canvas.
Every day for the past eight years, I always feel good about waking up in the morning, knowing that I would have again the chance to take part into my students' innocent lives. When the outside world is ranting and giving comments about the adversities of life, there I am, full of hope, standing in front of my class delivering my daily lectures. More than the lessons I am assigned to, I'm always trying to reach into their deepest core, one day at a time, one child at a time.
I came across AirAsia's advert for their #ThankYou Christmas Campaign. The ad itself is simple, yet, compelling in sharing its message, Gratitude through Service. I’ve been flying with AirAsia for a long time now and I can truly relate to the dedicated service they provide to their guests. It wouldn’t be the World’s Best Low-Cost airline for nothing.
And as I watched it again, I couldn’t help but think about the guidance, care and lessons in life that I impart to my students, and wonder, do they actually feel and realize it?
I’ve been a public school teacher for eight years now; I’ve never been happier with my chosen profession. The happiness doesn’t come from a six-figure salary, nor gifts I receive during the Christmas season--something I enjoyed years ago when I was still working on a corporate setup. There is just this sheer joy that comes with my job, that no matter how attractive the salaries are on other fields of work, my heart still chooses to stay where I am today. Some call it luck, while others call it destiny. I call it happiness.
If you think about it, I interact with 300 souls every day for ten months. The simplest joy of being entrusted with the lives of these children, their dreams and future, can never be replaced by any material thing. There are ups and downs when it comes to teaching, but somehow, I manage to survive and thrive in a field that I really never thought I'd be in.
It may seem routine and automatic but I always appreciate this gesture. There’s this sort of reassurance that I’m on the right track.
Thank you too, my dear students.
But as I walk away from these classrooms, I whisper to myself that it is indeed me who’s thanking them for giving me the opportunity to be part of their lives, even just for an hour each day. It is me who's thanking them, that in spite of the hardships that entails with teaching, they always give me a reason to carry on and fulfill my aspirations--to be humbled and live my life the way they let me see it, through their eyes.
To be strong, to stay grounded and dream big.
And though I am the teacher in the classroom, I'm actually learning too, hearing stories of my students' struggles and triumphs from their childlike version of real life. I live vicariously through their lives, I become their confidante, mirroring their undiscovered strengths inside their frail bodies, a young heart that unfolds to loving hands.
Thank you to all 2,400 souls I’ve met. Each one of you, who taught me how to be strong and believe in my capabilities. I may not recall all your names, but I remember each and every face of yours and the moments we shared. Thank you for helping me see the world through your eyes; innocent, full of love and with compassion. And as I try to change the world one kid at a time, let me express my sincerest gratitude to you, my beloved students.
To my kids, my happy pill, my greatest achievement in life, my source of strength, and the future of this country, Maraming Salamat.
Ma’am Carla, What is life for?
You have to figure that out for yourself my dear.