Monday, April 1, 2013

A Quiet, Epic Moment

"What is the most honored profession in Japan?" I asked my 7th grade boys class. Today was my first day of school as a teacher at Sri Mayapur International School, and I had just reviewed my discipline system, reading, writing, and homework system.

"Anime drawer!" a boy quipped.

"Anime? No," I said.


I laughed. "No, not a noodle-maker. Come on, the most honorable profession?"

"How about someone who figures out earthquakes and tsunamis?" one kid offered.

"Nice try, but no,"

One kid raised his hand. His name was Balaram, and I'll never forget that moment. He said, "A teacher?"

The moment hung in the air. I was deeply moved. I looked at Balaram and said, "Yes, yes, a teacher,"

"A teacher, ha!" some kids laughed, some snickered a little incredulously.

"Why?" I asked. "Why is a teacher the most honored profession in Japan?"

"Because they do what nobody else wants to do," one kid said.

"Not quite," I said.

Balaram said, "Because they give knowledge and stuff,"

"Yes. Teachers are the heads of society, they give culture and knowledge.

"You see," I continued, "When I was in 7th grade, one day my English teacher asked this question to the class. My classmates said, 'doctor,' 'lawyer,' 'firemen,' but my teacher said no to all of them. But then I raised my hand, 'a teacher?' and my teacher said, 'Yes, a teacher is the most honored profession in Japan. They give knowledge and are the heads of society.'

"That was the moment I decided that I wanted to be a high school English teacher. I was 12, not even in high school yet, but I knew what I wanted to be.

"So I find it very curious that although I wanted to teach high school, today is my first official day of teaching, and I'm teaching a 7th grade English class. I feel honored to share with you that after all these years, 13 years later, my desire is finally coming to pass and I get to teach you."

Some kids started applauding and some said, "Way to go, Mataji!"

A little surprised, I then smiled and did a little curtsy. "Thank you. Maybe one day, one of you will be inspired to become a teacher."

I looked at Balaram and gave a nod. 


Kathleen S. said...

Thank you, from one teacher to another. Namaste.

Anonymous said...

funny how im reading this now when it happend 3 years ago..
and the story is about me

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