Thursday, January 29, 2004

Based on my Jan 22 entry...

Let me post this article anyway...entitled: Self-Discovery.

It has been a ritual for me to spend a few moments at our terrace everytime I got home from school. I love to see the varied hues of the setting of the sun. The transformation itself is my indicator that my environs will soon be enveloped by dusk. As the moon proclaims itself in the vast expanse of the dark sky thereby illuminating the lines of my vision, I eagerly waited for the little creatures that will troop their way to the spacious basketball court. IT's SHOWTIME AGAIN!!! With their yayas in tow, these adorable creatures slipped into a dimension only them could understand. I used to watch them everyday. I know how each kid laugh and cry. I would love to hear Nikita scream her heart out everytime the little boys pull her hair. I would love to see Len-Len run after the boys and give them a punch everytime the boys tell her not to join because she's a girl. I would love to see Kim running around holding her slippers close to her heart so she won't get caught and be the 'it'. I would love to see Inah cheating out on Maricar over piko. I would love to see Shanelle bicycling the four corners of the court. I don't know the little boys' names but I christened them. I love to see them play with the girls, too. I love to see Kulit snatch Inah's pato and throw it in the air. I love to see Pikon cry everytime he gets dapa. I love to see Galing play his stylish tumbang-preso. I love to see them all. I love to see them making faces at me. I love to see them waving their little hands to me.

Their laughter, their cries, their screams could be heard in the air. Basking with delight and excitement, I was caught up in their exhilaration. During those moments, I looked up to the heavens and wished I was a kid again. I wanted to be a kid again. I wanted to play with them. I wanted to be like them so I'll never think what the future has in store for me. A lot of problems and worries, perhaps.

Gazing down at them, I then thought how lucky it is to be a kid again. They never worry about their parents' problems nor kill themselves by thinking too much of the future. Every waking time, playing seemed to be their life. I thought being a kid excuses you from facing the harsh realities of this so-called life. But I was wrong.

I came to realize this only after I joined as a volunteer in UP Manila's volunteer society - the Ugnayan ng Pahinungod. I first joined the Tutorial Program way back in '97. The program aims to render tutorial assistance to students who are at risk of failing their subjects. At first, I was hesitant about joining this particular program. My original plan was to join health-medical related programs (I was a frustrated doctor, still am) and not those that deal with a whole bunch of kids. Ate Maylin, who was then the program's coordinator, tried hard to convince me. I told her that I'll think about it. But she was so persistent in my saying yes. Knowing myself, I bowed down when all I want to say is no. I just told myself I'll worry later when this thing is going on.

I thought of a lot of reasons why I should NOT let myself volunteer as a tutor. Me, a volunteer, a tutor? This is funny!!! Am I nuts or what? Probably. Tutoring means teaching and teaching entails a lot of imaginable things. But I, for the life and love of me, can't see nor picture myself as a tutor. (A) I don't know if I like kids; (B) I don't know if I would be able to handle them good; (C) I don't know if I possess the virtue of patience which I'll need in my dealings with them; (D) I don't know if I will be able to share the knowledge they need; (E) I don't know if they will ever come close to liking me. All of my reasons actually made sense. No, I am not nuts. I guess, no, I think I'm scared. Most probably. The thought about my what-ifs-turned-what-if-nots were only rooted in my sense of fear. I'm frightened by the feeling of failure and helplessness. I'm used to experiencing victory and glory, not the other way around.

I attended a couple of orientations and seminars. From there I learned that I, as one of the volunteers, will be teaching public elementary students. Students who belong to the lowest section of a certain grade level. So, if you'll be teaching a grade two student, he or she for sure belongs to section 14, 15 or even 20. I also heard tales that a certain grade six student doesn't even know how to recite, worst recognize the letters of the alphabet. They also have to learn how to count 1-10. Worst scenario would be -- if the assigned student to you has dyslexic problems. Unfortunately, the bomb was dropped right on to me.

Uncertainty still pervaded my thoughts despite my saying yes. But my word of honor stood by me. I was deployed to two schools (entirely my fault). One is near the university and the other in very far Sta. Mesa. Mondays and Wednesdays, from 1-3 pm was for J. Lucban Elementary School; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-3 pm (also) was for Padre Burgos Elementary School, in Sta. Mesa. I think I could add another two reasons why I should not volunteer as a tutor. I found it out later on. First, my schedule of 1-3 pm subjected me to battling the intense heat of the sun. I felt like I drank vodka everytime my stubborn head comes in contact with the offensive heat of the sun. Second, the inexcusable traffic jam turned me into a withered vegetable. I would rather opt for jogging 7 laps than sitting, waiting for the wheels of the FX taxi I was riding to roll a little of a quarter. I couldn't stand the weary, almost interminable trip back to school. You see, I had a 4 pm class with a boring professor. So, what does it make me ??? Yes, I was complaining!!!

The task ahead made me mull over things again. I was scared, yes, but I need to conquer my fear. I had to. My reasons made sense but they were too shallow to let them scare me. I focused my thoughts on the students' situation instead of my growing fear.

A lot of times did I feel clueless on what, or more so, on how am I supposed to do things. From these two schools, I met Grace and John. For a first-timer in teaching/tutoring, I was given a challenge. A challenge, which I first thought, will scare me out of my wits and lead me to my doom. Grace was a dyslexic and John was surely a very slow-learner. Grace was a grade six student who had been in that grade level 4 times while John was in his Grade IV five times. When I met them, they were very shy. Probably because of their situation. In school, they were treated as an 'outcast' by their classmates. At home, they were not given the most possible attention nor the affection they were supposed to receive from their immediate family. Coming from destitute families, these two shy kids were forced to pull their limbs and worked out in the streets as sampaguita-cigarette vendor and a carwash boy. Not a few times did I discover that they absent themselves from school. When asked why, they said that they have to earn a few bucks so as to be able to give their fathers - money for their bottle of gin while for their mothers - money for their mahjong. I didn't want to judge their folks why they were like that. But I couldn't help it. When they were supposed to raise their kids in the most decent way, they were the ones ruining their future or most aptly, their very lives. Instead of helping them and realize their potential, there they were, unaware (?????) of what was going on with their children's lives.

For more than two months, I was able to gain their trusts and capture their hearts. In their eyes, I was their Ate -- a sister they never had. Yes, I came, not close, but very close to their hearts. They shared with me not only their thoughts and secrets but their dreams as well. They revealed to me their worries, fears and heartaches, too.

You see, this tutorial thing made me discover a few good things about myself. I decided that my fears were baseless, after all. The hard-thought reasons on why should I NOT volunteer as a tutor were unfounded. Because, I just discovered that: (1) I like kids; (2) I can handle them good, if not well; (3) I possess a certain degree of patience that won't crack under pressure. Another thing I found out about myself was that I was capable of sharing them a teeny-weeny bit of knowledge. In my own little way plus their desire and zest to learn, we were able to achieve our goal. Both of them did good in their respective classes. Grace could now distinguish the letter b from letter d and she could also recite the alphabet without mistakes. John, on the other hand, had also improved his reading and counting abilities. I know that it's kinda incredible to accomplish such things in so short a time. But like you do, I swear I don't believe it either. I don't know how did it happen.

They may not have gotten a much better grade but I am proud of them. I have seen their efforts and I laud them for that.

I guess being an adult and wishing you were a kid again is just normal. According to my psychology professor, it is one mechanism by which man resorts to just to escape the cruel realities of this so-called life. But then, thinking about it, I mean being a kid again, I'd rather be what I am now. Being what I am now could do more than just wonder and ponder. Because somehow, I know what to do. I can do my little part in easing their hard-led lives. I can give them a hand when they need help. I can lend them my ears when they want someone to listen to their cares and worries. I can try to boost their morale and build their confidence. I can teach them to appreciate themselves before they will be able to appreciate others. I can have a little share in touching their hearts while they have greatly touched mine.

I gave them so little and yet what I got in return was far more than what I expected. More than anything else, I came to discover my true self and worth as a person.

posted in Peyups
by missed_UP [that's me]

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It is always refreshing to know what is in your mind. Thanks!