Seven years. It took me that long before I was able to see friends and family back in the Philippines again. It was a short trip but one that was filled with beautiful memories and nostalgic moments with people close to my heart. Coming from a cold, snowy Michigan to a tropical country, the temptation to talk about the place is compelling but I would like to share instead the greatest lesson I was reminded of by one of my former students.
The journey back home was the first time for David. Since I was working in Indonesia when we got married, he’s been there several times but never to the country where I was born and grew up. The trip however, proved to be more than meeting friends and family and showing him different places but also a reminder that the sweetest part of leaving home is knowing, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you’ll always carry it with you.
It was one of those poignant moments during the visit of my former student, Dr. Chryz, telling me stories about surviving college, passing the board, having the desire to work in far flung places to provide medical care to those who could not afford the expenses of getting sick, and listening to the passion in his voice about his burning desire to help his family after all the support they have given with his studies, that reminded me of that beautiful culture of the Filipinos. I couldn’t be more proud that my husband was listening to my former student talk about helping others instead of being rich.
One of the greatest joys of a teacher is realizing that her student turned out not just as a functioning part of a community but someone who makes a difference. While teaching is already buried in the deepest recesses of my heart, Chryz reminded me that being a former teacher is one of the best things that happened to me.
As profound as it may seem, life is really not just a journey, but the people, the experiences, and the lessons we gleaned along the way.
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