My grandmother was a teacher. My mom taught special education. My brother teaches middle school math. My sister is on the school board. Clearly, the importance of a good education was instilled in me from a young age.
Still, the teacher gene is not dominant in my DNA. I think it might have something to do with my patience -- or lack thereof.
Although teaching is not in my vocation, I understand and value the work of teachers across the United States and around the world. These dedicated servants are molding the future generations, often in difficult circumstances.
In my time working with World Vision, I have had the privilege of meeting and interacting with many teachers around the world. It is astounding to me that despite the geographic area, the culture, or the language, teachers around the world have so much in common -- the same dreams, the same motivations, and many of the same struggles.
The following are excerpts from interviews with teachers from three different continents. See if you can guess where they are from:
- Armine Khachatyan, 46, has taught language and literature for 25 years.
- Wesley Malemia is an 8th grade teacher.
- Gabriela Gonzalez is an 8th grade teacher.
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Q: What is the most rewarding moment for you as a teacher?
A: Armine: “I am happy when they are excited to learn and try hard to get high grades [on] the exams.”
A: Wesley: “The way a teacher presents him- or herself contributes to pupils' interest towards a particular subject…[I enjoy] when my pupils find my lessons interesting."
A: Gabriela: “When a child looks at you for approval, a simple smile, a gesture of appreciation.”
Q: Do you feel your students value their education?
A: Armine: “I feel that students have started valuing their education. They challenge each other to receive higher grades, to know more.”
A: Wesley: “The students I teach value their education. Most of them do come from families with poor backgrounds, but they are still determined to work hard in class and would like to excel.”
A: Gabriela: “My students hunger for knowledge…they feel pride when they know they have learned something new.”
Q: What is your greatest challenge in the classroom?
A: Armine: “To spread my knowledge among my students and be attentive to each of them equally.”
A: Wesley: “There are pupils who live very far and travel long distances to school (for example, 10 kilometers), and this sometimes contributes to their poor performance…secondly, there are 76 pupils in my class, and this gives me hard time to attend to all their needs.”
A: Gabriela: “Everything from lack of school supplies to lack of value of education from the communities they come from.”
Q: Where do you see your students in 10 years?
A: Armine: “I think most of them will become economists and programmers…some of my students want to be teachers to teach coming generations.”
A: Wesley: “I am hopeful that a good number of them will become medical doctors, commercial farmers, and teachers.”
A: Gabriela: “I see many of them going to college and exploring educational options.”
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Now, see if your guesses were right:
Armine is from Armenia, Wesley is from Malawi, and Gabriela is from Los Angeles.
It is clear that teachers have an important part to play in the lives of their current students, as well as in the shaping of future communities and countries. I would not be who I am today without the influence of amazing teachers in my life.
Today, as we celebrate World Teachers' Day, please pray for the teachers in your life and around the world. May the Lord give them strength, endurance, and an extra measure of grace in the important work they undertake on a daily basis.
Thank you, teachers, for all you do!
Special thanks to World Vision communicators Wezzie Banda and Nune Hayrapetyan who collected the interviews from Malawi and Armenia.