I am asking for your understanding for this very long post. I wrote this because I thought it is right for the Writing 101 prompt about education. Most of my friends know my life as I am really a talker not a writer (I believe that is why I am able to cope with my struggles and I didn’t dived into depression) so I didn’t write this to show or say that I am great, intelligent and strong or that I need your sympathy. I wrote this to share and I hope that if someone will ever have the patience to read this, maybe he or she will learn something out of it. To anyone who will ever read this, I am thanking you.
For most people, when they talked about education, it is usually used as a term for learning something from a school, college, or university, just structured learning. I’ve searched from Wikipedia the meaning of education, where it says education is a process where learning is facilitated. It is where a group of people who has knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits transfers these to other people. In order to do this, they may use storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, or research and it frequently takes place under the guidance of educators. Therefore, based on this meaning we can say that most people are quite right when they talked about education.
Here in my country, someone who is educated is highly regarded, and most families, despite being poor are dreaming that their children will be able to finish their education. This is because education for them, having a diploma or degree means they have a chance to have a better life. I can say I believe this too when I was a child, because I saw and believed that lack of education on my parents part was the reason for us being so poor that I dreamed and promised myself I will have a college degree.
It is very normal in our country that people who are poor, lacks the education they need, indeed you can say that a person who is so poor who was able to graduate in college means he or she had that drive, that resilience, that willingness to endure hardship just to achieve his or her dreams. In my part, I just want to help my mother and I believed that I can do that if and when I graduate, I can say this had driven me to go on even if it is hard, even if I am bullied in high school because I am different and I have polio, even if I have to eat a 5 peso worth of spaghetti for lunch or even skip lunch just for me to save enough money to buy a textbook.
My mother never told me that time that she had to cry in front of the Sisters (I am a scholar in a private Catholic high school but I still have to pay tuition since I am not a full scholar – this is through the help of my elementary teacher and of course I have to take an exam) just to plead that they allow me to take an exam because she was not able to pay for the tuition fee on time. When she told me of this after so many years, I can’t believe she had to do that and I imagined my mother pleading and crying and it was heartbreaking. She said that she did everything she could because she saw in me the willingness, the initiative and that her dream of having an education is being fulfilled through me. I remember on my first day in high school, I was the only one who was not wearing a uniform; I was clad in a T-shirt, jeans and I wear an old rubber shoes, my classmate will not see in my face what I am feeling but inside my heart I am crying because I know my classmates were laughing at me. My mother had to borrow money for me to have a uniform – I only have one pair but since someone my mother knows had a child studied in that same school, I had two additional uniforms on my first year, yearly it was a struggle to have a new uniform and a new pair of black shoes.
I only have my own to depend on in order to learn, I can’t ask for any help from my mother and especially from my father as he was an alcoholic and very abusive. (I don’t want to detail here his abuse since it is equivalent to another very, very long post). The only time I remember my mother helping me with is doing Division. I don’t just study for the grades, I didn’t aim to be a Valedictorian when I was in high school as I know I can’t keep up with my classmates, they have no responsibilities to take care of their siblings, no alcoholic and abusive father, they can eat nutritious food, they have money to buy textbooks, they have money to buy uniforms, they have enough money to buy snacks, they even have nanny’s and rode cars. How am I able to compete with that? At that time, I can’t understand why they are bullying me, I am a nobody, I didn’t do anything bad to them, in fact, if they needed my help with assignments, asked for a paper (this I really can’t understand – they can afford to buy paper but they are asking one from me). I can’t understand why these students who have everything laid out for them, who are able to afford everything were not studying, they were lazy, they were focused with friends, they were cutting classes, and they are bullying me.
I have mentioned before in my very first post My Journey to Writing that I didn’t join any extracurricular activities, even if joining will mean I will have higher grades, the reason is simple – I can’t afford it. I don’t even have my own typewriter when it was required for us to use it on our assignment when I was in fourth year high school. The solution for this was: I was doing the assignment of my friend who was in a different section because I was borrowing her typewriter. We have the same teacher so I only have to do one research and just rephrase or change something on the wordings a bit. I have many funny but heart breaking stories when I was in high school, things I will never ever forget; it is also worth another very, very long post. (This means I have to prepare myself because I will surely cry when I write that, if ever I will write that – I am over it and I am thankful that I’ve experienced it because it somehow made me a stronger person but whenever I remember them, I can’t help but cry, I guess I am just a crybaby).
When it was time for me to go to college I didn’t apply for any scholarship because it means I am forced to study, just focused on lessons, assignments and I thought it will take the joy out of me. I love reading, I can say I am not that intelligent but I love learning things, I don’t have a particular favorite subject, I love almost all of them although I struggled with English, Chemistry and Math but I passed them all, not because I have to but because I believed and will always believe that when a person wants to learn something and worked hard for it, then he or she will know and understand it, then the grades will just follow. My dream was to be a teacher but because of the bad attitude and the bullying I received from my high school classmates, I changed my mind as I’ve thought I don’t want to teach these kinds of students. I don’t know but until now I want to study, just be in school and listen to a teacher even if there is no grade maybe that is why I joined Writing 101, I feel like I am a student again.
I’ve resorted to a Management course in college. Since I was young and seeing my mother’s hardship as she was a newspaper vendor (she still is), I’ve thought, as I think I have a simple mind, that I just take that course as having a business was better. Here in our country, before you are able to enter a very good university or even a college you have to pass a National or Government Exam. At that time I was among the ones who had the highest grade, this means I have a chance to apply and be accepted in a national university. In my heart I want to study in a prestigious or well-known university but I’ve thought of the cost if I choose that, and even if I passed the exam as a full scholar, still my mother can’t afford the payment for miscellaneous expenses, the notebooks, pens and dorm since these schools were far. I thought that if I pursue that she will try but will leave herself buried in debt more as she always was, I guess until now. I don’t want to put more burden on her. I chose a school that is near, just in another town and had a lower entrance fee as I always weigh the cost. I guess it is part of being poor; the mindset of always wanting to know how much will be the cost of something, so you will know if you can afford it or not, before you buy or decide on anything.
I have to stop studying for one semester when I was in second year college, this was because my grandfather was sick and I have to helped out, it was very hard for me to accept that since I don’t want to stop, I want to graduate on time but I know I have to do that, at least I have enough education for me to be accepted in a factory. I worked as a factory worker for six months, just doing routine work where I have to watch and put the instant noodles in a conveyor and ensure that there will be no rejects. I even had an accident when I was working there. I almost lost one-fourth of my third left finger. I am thinking that time, “What will become of me? I am not pretty, a polio victim and now I will lose a finger? No one will love me or accept me; I will never ever have a husband.” That’s what I was thinking. I can’t help but smile at that thought now that I have a husband and a beautiful baby boy.
When I was in fourth year college, I have to face again the dilemma of not being able to graduate because, as usual, I can’t afford it. I have to work while I was studying. I worked in a fast food chain in the morning and then I studied at night. I slept and studied in between. I managed to graduate, finally! Did I mention that whenever I graduate, even if it was in elementary, high school or college that my father was drunk? He celebrates that way, if I call that celebration since it was and still is his life but he was not celebrating with us. I have simple food whenever I graduate; usually it was composed of spaghetti or bihon (a very fine noodle) and juice. After that I have to work to help out, I became the bread winner. I want my siblings to finish their studies as I know and believed that it can help them have a better life, but they have different personalities and choices.
I have three siblings, I am the eldest, the next one, my brother was able to finish second year in a technical school, he helped out when he was single, and he is the kindest among us. My other brother, never finished elementary, he is intelligent but lazy and now he is in prison (I am still praying he will change since he had many kids), my youngest sister was able to finish high school but was not able to receive the diploma because she got pregnant. I am paying for her tuition at that time and it was one of the moments where I felt hatred, anger and I thought I can kill someone because I thought she was already killing herself because of her choices. Thankfully, that time I have changed my beliefs and I am already a different woman, so I am able to control myself. They all got married ahead of me, I was the last one to marry, I guess because I was focused on finishing my studies and helping out and I don’t believe anyone will ever marry me. Now that we are all older, I can say that I have a better life than my siblings. We all still struggle financially, and I am still poor as I didn’t pursue higher career goals. This was because I realized that true wealth and education is not just having a degree, it is having wisdom and compassion and serving God.
I still believe that having an education, a degree can really help to have a better life especially financially but it is not absolute as I have read so many stories of people who have achieved success in life despite not having a degree. They have the initiative, the patience and the willingness to succeed. Success for me when I was younger was finishing college, having a family, my own house, I am able to give everything for my mother and my siblings which means I am rich. I was able to achieve only two but I feel successful. Success for me now is different. I feel successful whenever I am helping someone and whenever I am serving God. Education for me is never ending, as long as we are alive we are learning and we are sharing knowledge. We will never know everything. We are limited because we are human, imperfect. Even if we are considered genius, we still have so much to learn and yes, we will know that we know nothing. I consider people who are truly educated are people who are kind, who have compassion and those who show love.