Vocation for all 

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo January 13,2017 - 09:54 PM

Los Baños, Laguna — This one goes out to all those who teach. 
Pre-school, elementary, high school, college, alternative learning, out-of-school youth, homeschool, classroom, mobile school, community centers… whoever, whichever, wherever you teach, here’s an affirmation that your students and their worlds are so much better because you chose to be a teacher. 
Everyone is called to teach and everyone has the opportunity and free will to say yes to teaching.

* * *

Some 18 years ago, a girl was called to teach.

She was 12 years old — and she knew she wanted to be a teacher. The top of her class and well liked by her peers, Little Girl approached Class Adviser and told her she wanted to be a teacher. But Class Adviser said teaching is not meant for a class valedictorian. 

“Dream bigger,” she was told.

“But that is my dream. I wanted to be a teacher so I can do storytelling sessions in class and make children happy because they learn good manners and right values from the stories I read,” Little Girl continued. 

But Class Adviser said, “Teaching is for the weak. You have a strong brain. Be a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. You are too good to be a teacher. A teacher is not paid by the thousands of pesos but by mere smiles, chickens and maybe some vegetables grown from the backyard. That will not bring honor to your family. Make use of your intelligence and be anything great but a teacher. If you want to be a teacher, then your life will only be limited to this barrio.”

Little Girl, adventurous and carefree, wanted to see the world and its magnificence. Following Class Adviser’s advice, she gave up the dream to become a teacher and told everyone that she wants to be a doctor, a pediatrician to be exact.

Little Girl left the barrio to go to high school in the city. She did not want to be a doctor anymore. In fact, she was not sure what to become except that she wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of others. When she turned 16, she crossed a vast ocean to attend a university known to be the breeding ground and incubator of great minds and famous personalities.

Little Girl became a writer and she worked hard to be a good one. 

* * *

A decade later, Little Girl became a mother but her little girl’s dream of becoming a teacher was still there, hidden in the deepest recesses of her heart waiting to be declared and acted upon.

When her newborn baby girl joined the family, Little Girl looked at her and promised that she will be her first teacher and she will work hard to be one. 

So she juggled her different responsibilities and worked on becoming a teacher. The words of Class Adviser came back to mind. But this time, Little Girl had already the traveled the world, she had repeatedly been honored and awarded, she has enough money to sustain a family and she loved chickens and backyard-raised vegetables. 

It was time to embrace teaching.

* * *

When I decided to return to the Philippines and dragged my entire family to live here — when they are all US citizens and I, a permanent resident — I just wanted to write again and finally embrace my first calling: to be a teacher. 

Living abroad taught me resilience and self-confidence. It made me believe in my ability and capacity to turn impossible dreams to genuine realities. It gave me the opportunity to see the Philippines from a distance and determine which social problem needs my services more.

I believe the physical classroom is not the lone venue for learning. I believe I was called to be a teacher. I believe everyone is called to be one. 

The difference lies on our responses.

I am not yet a licensed professional teacher. 

I am working to be one while I teach in informal and non-traditional settings.

But take note that no license should ever stop you from teaching because teaching, as noted by my newfound friend Windel Cabando, a public school teacher from Talisay City, Cebu: “Teaching is a vocation for all.”

* * *

I am writing this inside the University of the Philippines Los Baños where I joined 80 other teachers in the 1st National Young Teachers’ Boot Camp organized by us, the young people of the Philippines who teach. We are called YOUTeacH Philippines. Perhaps I’m the only one here who is not yet a licensed teacher, but I don’t mind. I just take in what I’m learning here; and for the first time in my long history of being talkative, I stopped, listened and observed. I am inspired for this rare chance to be with teachers from all part of the Philippines. I have encountered several inspiring ones who have successfully merged their advocacies and passions. I want to be like them in the near future. 

Today I publicly declare my Little Girl’s dream that was hidden for a long while.

Hello, I am Little Girl.

When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.

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TAGS: adviser, alternative learning, classroom, college, community centers, education, Elementary, high school, homeschool, Little Girl, mobile school, out-of-school youth, Pre-school, teacher, university

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