Autobiographical Paper (ECS 101)
At a young age, I always had a natural curiosity for many things. Whether I wanted to know why the sun rose every morning or how to match pitch, I was still keen to learn more. That was arguably where my pursuit of knowledge started. I continued my journey of understanding the mysteries of the world throughout my elementary and secondary years. Unfortunately, I spent excessive amounts of time studying literature and science and not enough time learning who I am. I gradually became more aware of my own identity throughout my last years of high school, but I continue that experience now. If not for the many teachers I had, I may have never realized that I needed to understand myself. Every teacher sincere to me taught me values in their unique ways, and I am forever grateful for them. Only through their teachings was I able to understand that my calling is to advocate for all marginalized groups. There were many times in my career I found myself being discriminated against. I realize now that the only way to prevent others from feeling how I felt is to teach youth good morals and values. Understanding who I am, the support and acceptance of my teachers, and my desire to advocate for minorities are what drove me to the profession of teaching. Only by appreciating all these aspects can one truly understand my journey.
Firstly, realizing the importance of understanding my own identity was crucial to my development as a person. I was never one to place value in where I am from or the groups I identify with. But there a few key things I distinctly remember that shaped who I am now. I always felt outcasted by my family, mostly because of their too conservative views of the world. I suppose they had these views because they immigrated from the Philippines and the country was rather traditional, to say the least. As a young gay man in the making, that was a hurdle to overcome. I had to find ways to express myself in silence and smile in the face of homophobia. Although being around my family was difficult as a gay man, having many supportive friends and family made life more comfortable. If not for them, I may not be the proud person I am today. That experience taught me that some students come to school to escape from what they experience at home. Numerous students struggle in silence, and my job is to understand that and help them where I can.
As I mentioned before, I had many teachers that pushed me past the finish line and beyond. They all imparted their wisdom upon me, and I hold them dearly now. Perhaps the most important teacher I will ever have is my grade eight teacher Ms. Richter. Ms. Richter was and is a beautiful soul and the catalyst of my journey to becoming a teacher. She showed me that education is much more than a pen, paper, and answers. However, the most important item she gave me was a book. The book was called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist focuses on a young boy who was in pursuit of his “personal legend.” Along the way, he learns many truths of life. What I took away from the book was the following quote: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure” (Coelho, 2014, p. 80). As an eighth-grader who was afraid to wear the colour blue in fear of being laughed at, the quote spoke to me. For a long time, I subconsciously limited myself to specific social standards because I did not want to fail others’ expectations. Ms. Richter was the person who destroyed the idea that there is such a thing as being “normal.” As she did with me, I want to impart the same opinion with many other youths. I want to teach students that they can do what makes them most happy, even if that means being outcasted from a society that does not understand you.
Perhaps what most affected my decision to become a teacher was being part of a marginalized group. Not only am I a homosexual man, but I am also a Filipino and a first-generation immigrant. Although I was born and raised in Regina, Canada, I was not immune to discrimination. I have been subjected to a plethora of racial and homophobic slurs; you never really get used to that, and the discrimination I faced fundamentally changed me. There were events in which I felt silenced or disregarded. For example, the boys’ changing room always felt like a trial where I was on the stand, and my male peers were the judges, jury, and executioners. Those feelings pushed me to find ways to inspire change and social awareness. In my high school years, I joined the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) group, the SRC (Student Representatives Council), and eventually became the SRC president. My position within all these groups allowed me to cultivate a school that is accepting and unexpecting of others. My high school efforts encouraged me to find another way to continue my mission and ultimately led me to become a teacher. A teacher can create a space that is understanding of all people and safe for all students. I have committed to my future students, which I promise to honour as long as I continue to teach.
In the end, the decision to become a teacher was of my own will, yet influenced by many factors. I contemplated many professions, like being a doctor, a musician, or a lawyer – but I chose to be a teacher. I did not choose to teach because of the easy life and the summers off. I decided to teach because I want to change an individual’s world just as many before did to me. I believe that educators are the pioneers of today’s future. I plan to be at the forefront, curating the morals and values of society.
Coelho, P. (2014). The alchemist: Paulo Coelho. Spark Publishing.