Sunday, August 31, 2008

A General in Youngblood

I'm particularly proud to feature in this blog an essay written by Zea Raiza Pidut whom I've known since her high school days as a campus journalist. She is a graduate of NDDU and now teaches at NDMU.

Vocation, vacation
By Zea Raiza S. Pidut
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:20:00 08/26/2008

I belong to a family of educators, but I never thought of becoming a teacher. Both my parents teach in public schools. I have seen how committed they are to their work, but they are never properly compensated. For that reason, our resources are limited despite my parents’ great potentials. Still I have nothing to complain about for I was given everything I needed. They made sure of that.

I have relatives on both sides of the family who also took up teaching as their profession. Even my older sister planned to teach in a tertiary institution, but she is now a CPA working abroad.

I never had the same desire. I had other dreams. I knew that there is a bigger world out there: many places to go to, positions to climb and, of course, a lot of money to make. I was trained well from elementary to college, both in academics and extra-curricular activities. I took up leadership roles, initiated and facilitated activities, and participated in competitions.

The change of heart happened a year ago, in the final year of my college education. And, with the change of heart came the change of plans.

I was one of four youth representatives sent by our school, a Marist institution, to the Asian Marist Youth Meeting in Tagaytay City in September 2007. The meeting’s aim was to understand the problems faced by the youth in Asia as well as to strengthen the Marist spirituality of the youth.

There, I got to know different personalities: Marist Brothers, lay people and young men and women from the different Marist schools in our country and other parts of Asia. I would not try to put into words the entire experience. It’s enough to say that it became the turning point of my life. It was then that I decided to serve the Marist community.

As an accountancy graduate, I was expected to have every graduate’s dream: to become a CPA. But fulfilling that dream would have hindered my commitment to serve the Marist community. Becoming a CPA would have meant going to Manila for review classes (my sister had actually enrolled me before she went abroad). And after passing the licensure examinations, it would not have been very easy to come back home.

The path would have been laid out for me: I would work in a prestigious auditing firm in Makati City. With my academic honors (I graduated magna cum laude), leadership awards and other citations, I would have been entitled to a generous signing bonus. Working in an auditing firm would increase my value and prepare me for greater things. After two or three years of working in the firm, I would be qualified to work abroad and receive a monthly pay of P200,000 or more. And if I digressed from this path, I would be considered a fool.

I believed it would be much better to be considered a fool now than later. And so I made my choice. I am here in Koronadal City, teaching at Notre Dame of Marbel University.

Many people have asked me why I chose this institution when I could have served my alma mater, Notre Dame of Dadiangas University. I would have, if I had been given the same chance I was given here. But then I would have been roasted during the interview, because they probably would never have accepted the reasons for my decision. Why would an accountancy graduate choose to teach non-accounting subjects? Why couldn’t she wait, when there was no need to hurry?

I am tired of explaining over and over again. It does not matter much to me what subjects I teach for as long as I am teaching. I know that with my decision, I have failed many people: my teachers who protected me and understood the demands of campus leadership; my classmates who put up with me and tried hard to understand my inconsistencies; my parents and siblings who had big dreams for me. I was supposed to be an inspiration to other students, someone who could juggle both academic and extra-curricular commitments. But I did not finish splendidly in their eyes. To them, I have not been a good influence.

I may be considered selfish for doing only what I wanted. I will not argue against that. But hopefully, in the long run everyone will be proud of me once again.

I am happy. I find greater meaning in everything that I do. Every class session is a learning experience.

Life in Notre Dame of Marbel University is not the same as the one I was used to. I spent all my school life managing both academics and a host of extracurricular commitments: leading organizations, conducting activities, and participating in seminars and joining competitions. Here, everything is simple. I prepare my lessons, teach my students, and facilitate activities and discussions. I apply and share the learnings I got from my academic and extracurricular activities when I was still studying. I motivate and inspire my students to do meaningful things and participate in school activities. I appreciate the simplicity of everything.

In a way, I am taking a vacation—a meaningful one. I am getting to know myself deeper.

I know that my responsibilities will be greater and more demanding in the future. But I am prepared. The pay is not an issue; I can manage with a teacher’s salary. Yes, I will not get rich in a worldly way, but I can be rich in character and wisdom.

In the final analysis, what matter most are the happiness that I feel and the happiness that I share with others.

Zea Raiza S. Pidut, 21, is a member of the faculty of the College of Business Administration of Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City.

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