This is my first article of the year, 2024 in this community.
I have announced my intentions and aspirations for this year for Vocal. One of them was to publish at least one writing consistently. So here I am.
This year I am turning 60. This is a huge turning point in life, therefore, we celebrate BIG in the country where I am from: Japan. I spent most of my adult life in America where I had dreamed about as far as I remember, and even when I don’t remember.
Since Japan had lost the war, she had been under the supervision (sort of) of the American government led by General MacArthur after WW II. The US government had some influence over how the country should be governed; she also had a saying in what would be taught at the public schools.
I thought my dream of living in America had started when English was introduced at school in the post-war. I was thirteen, then. Later, I found out from my aunt that I was already talking about living in America as young as 5 years old.
I still don’t know why I was so determined to move to thousands of miles away where I have no one I know and nothing I know about. I have a sneaky feeling that I will find out someday, though. And the day is coming closer and closer.
There was one other thing that I have known about myself even before I knew how to write. I always wanted to teach. That is why I majored in Education and received a teaching certificate. After I graduated from grad school, I went on to teach at one of the inner city public schools in Phoenix, AZ, where no one wanted to teach.
They were suffering from a shortage of teachers and that was probably one of the major reasons why I was hired even though I was a fresh out of the school, a foreigner with no experience in teaching.
My first year as a teacher for most kids who were only there to avoid being locked in the juvenile detention facility wasn’t easy. Nothing I learned at school prepared me for the challenge I faced.
My first homeroom class was about 20 students of mostly Mexican American heritage. Their parents spoke Spanish at home and heavily depended on their children in everyday life outside of their home due to their limited communication skills in English. Many students were raised by their grandparents due to their parents’ absence from serving sentences in prison, or passing as a result of gang activities, or some form of criminal activities or violence.
They lived in such a segregated community that only Asian people they knew were nail salon owners, or workers at the salon before they had me as their teacher. Parents were generally upset about me being their kids’ teacher and the principal had to defend me from their unbiased slanders and criticisms more often than not.
I didn’t know then, but I found out later that every year, it was a customary practice for a group of 8th-grade kids pick one teacher to bully and bet on if he/she lasts a whole year or not. They usually pick someone like me; an inexperienced, rookie who has no idea what she is dealing with.
As horrible and mentally stressful as the job was, I saw the potential in each kid I had encountered. I could see and feel their pains and struggles trying to make sense of the life they were experiencing. I believed at that time that I was there to make a difference to their lives, however a small it might be.
In the end, I had to choose myself, my health and turned down another year of teaching an opportunity. Being transported to the hospital with 210/160 blood pressure after a day in the classroom, I was forced to reevaluate my decision to try making a difference in those kids.
I felt utterly inadequate and guilty for not being able to guide them and give education that they deserve. My fellow teachers were very kind and supportive of my decision. This was my first experience of trying to teach a group of kids who have no interest in learning at school. My mental and emotional health was dangerously threatened due to my own making. The Sense of being a failure as a teacher tormented me days and nights. What did I learn from this experience?
1. There are things that I cannot change or make them better, no matter how much, how heard I try. Accept them as they are. Stop beating myself for it.
2. My health is not only depending on what I do or don’t do; it’s not even what happens to me that determine. It is how I react to the events or any external stimulus and conditions.
3. How to accept and digest any feelings, emotions and thoughts are crucial to my good health and happiness level. Be kind to myself. No hush judgement and criticism on myself is going to help me or anyone else.
“ There’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes so.”
-William Shakespeare, Hamlet
About the Creator
Everything I do, I do for LOVE. Writing is a way I express my love to the world. Thank you for reading my stories.
Tipping is never expected but always appreciated.