Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Teacher’s Day!

I hope I did my teachers proud.

I was a normal student with average grades in school, except for my languages. I never studied hard for my Mandarin but I passed every examination. I did fail in English on two separate occasions; I suspect it was because I did not complete the essay portion on time. I must have done well in both Mandarin (second language) and English for I earned the option to study a third language – I opted for French, which I dropped out after two grueling years; and listening to Monsieur Lecoq while he smoked his cigarette was hard to bear. Nobody in my area spoke the romantic language, and so I fell out of love with it. Mrs Elizabeth Khalil recognized my aptitude for the language, and every one of my Chinese teachers (over 12 years of formal education) treated me well in class, and gave me positive classroom experiences. I have taught in China and Taiwan since 1993, and have taught classes entirely in Mandarin doing my own reading, writing and translation.

I did not go to the top schools or junior college. I graduated with my first degree as a mature adult (through a corporate sponsorship); I decided to complete my Masters degree soon after graduating. Earning relevant degrees was the way to go, if I was to enhance my credibility as a consultant and corporate trainer. I enjoyed my interactions with my overseas tutors and supervisors. To me, my conversations with them (related to practical aspects of my studies) were far more valuable than earning upper-percentile test scores. I believed that my journey in my learning was as relevant as the destination.

In my youth, I taught in the military as an Instructor (topped my cohort and class on two separate occasions, in the Methods of Instruction module). I was a gym-trainer for three years, had a brief hiatus as a journalist, then resumed training as a full-time profession since 1993. I became an independent educator in the year 2000, and I never looked back on the teaching profession since. Just this week, I taught in my 20th country in 19 years.

I was a decent athlete in school, self-taught, and self-styled but encouraged by my form-teacher Mr S K Cheong (who I reunited with a few years ago at a public race together with his wife - my former-Mathematics teacher - and their two children). Since 2004, I have completed multiple marathons and Ironman triathlons. I enjoy teaching tremendously, and relish in my time with students. I also enjoy my personal learning with my own mentors and teachers. I am fortunate to have found my calling early in my career. It took a long while to get here, yet I am grateful for my journey. I am a teacher and I appreciate teachers. I am encouraged by teachers who extend and expand themselves further than a fixed syllabus, timetable, or salary. They breathe of true potential.

I trust I did my teachers proud.


Matty Wong said...

Good writing. Am sure your mentors are proud of ya.

Enrico Varella said...

Thank you for your vote of confidence, Matty! My Students are my teachers, too.