As my time in Iriga City is quickly coming to a close, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the differences and similarities between education back home in the U.S. and education here in the Philippines. Perhaps it is these profound similarities that have enabled me to feel at home in the schools and classrooms here.
Teachers here are invoative, persistent, hard-working, and doing an incredible job teaching youth here. I have watched as they face daily challenges with grace and poise, always just going with the flow. Whether it's not having "current" (electricity), hot, stuffy classrooms, materials that consist of only markers, chart paper and chalk, a new national curriculum, or students who are reluctant to learn, the teachers teach every day, with a smile on their face.
However, even more profoundly similar are the students. Though it sounds cliche, kids will be kids, and even on the other side of the world from Benson and Portland, the questions, the behaviors, the attitudes of kids, they're not that different. There are those who sit in the back row and try to hide using cell phones. There are the kids who come in late, perhaps to avoid the daily flag ceremony. Boys and girls flirt. Kids don't do homework. Kids work really hard. There are those who walk around like they are too cool for school, but really, what they want is to be noticed and to be wanted at school. There are students who face daily obstacles that could be an excuse for not showing up, but they do in spite of it all. There are those who are working hard because they value education and they recognize the power knowledge has and the doors it can open for them.
It is this realization that serves a reminder and reinforcement of my decision to be a teacher. Kids everywhere need quality, committed teachers. Kids everywhere deserve to be cared about. Kids everywhere have the right to an education. The power of knowledge is infinite and I hope my students reading this, and the students who await me at the end of the summer can learn to value this power!