Today I finished editing and just published my new video: “New York’s Finest High School & Ramen Noodle Soup!” This post isn’t about a strategy to what I’m going to do to make people watch the video. I wanted to talk about the experience, the students, the lessons I learned, and other things involving teaching (education).
Before we begin, you can view the video below!
Alright, let’s get started.
Presentation: What It Really Means
Every time I speak in front of a classroom to teach a lesson and present about the value and the resources it takes to get into college – I’m reminded about my own college days when I would go out, during my Spring and Winter breaks, to travel all across California High School’s and Community Colleges to talk about, mentor, and provide the necessary resources to help students get one step closer to college.
Since 2007, I’ve encountered 10s of thousands of students – sometimes even repeats – who I’ve bonded with in classrooms. As a brown person, I feel the work I did was (and still is) needed. Here’s why:
Of Color, Under-Resourced Students
We visited a ton of under-resourced institutions. And, the demographic in these classes were predominately filled with “of color” students: mostly – Filipino, Hispanic, and Black.
I mention the race of the students we presented because I want to make it clear who we were reaching, and why it was important.
Yes, our target audience was/is under-resourced students, and it just so happens that in America many of the under-resourced are of color (I will talk about why this is in another post).
What we were doing was showing our face, a relatable face, to these students. An example of what I mean: when these students turn on the TV, read a popular (academic) book and see the author’s name, look at their political system, see our leaders or our celebrities or our role models – in their society.
Do you know what they see?
They see that the people leading these parts of our system are usually not brown. They’re white. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just many of these students are unable to relate to them because, as much as we do our best to push to immerse each other together (regardless of race), we relate best to people we find relatable: our skin, culture, and economic background.
So, if these under-resourced students see a person who looks like them, has lived like them, and can share the same experiences like them – and have the understanding that the person who is speaking (the person who looks like them) – was able to attend a place of higher education – then they ALSO can get into college as well. It’s the belief of, “he can do it, I can do it as well.”
I would have the great opportunity to mentor these students.
Yes, I would grab their email (contact info) and I would have long threads to help these students’ college essays, career paths, and anything else that I could provide in the best of my ability. I will tell you first hand that outreaching (as they called it) was (and still is) the best thing I ever did in my college years. And, so far, it is the best thing I’ve done and hope to continue to do in my life.
What Makes Outreaching So Great
It is very common theory and proven fact in psychology that giving back is the best feeling in the world. This was especially true when I was outreaching. I think the reason why I loved outreaching so much was because the people I was outreaching to were actually teaching me, inspiring me, and encouraging me to be a better student slash person.
When you see an eager student with great fervor and passion working their butt off so they too can one day get into a place of higher education – or do something to get into their dream vocation – or just be heard by just anyone – there becomes this level of appreciation of things you personally have and what is required of you to do even more: ideals you’re supposed to continue beyond that presentation.
It was the students who kept me awake in class, it was the students who motivated me to graduate – How can you outreach when you’re not educated yourself? You need to be a role model before you become a role model –
and it was these type of students who kept me alive.
In addition, I LOVED their personalities!!!
Students in general, especially students from under-resourced communities, can be the most passionate cathartic individuals: many of them are already fast with wit as it’s the number one thing that pushes them forward (imagine when you combine an academic mindset as well).
I never laughed, joked around with, and cried as hard with anyone in my life than with the students I outreached and mentored.
I’m very fortunate.
Continuing The Work
When I graduated college I applied to academic and teaching fellowships. I didn’t get in and rightly so because in some instances I wasn’t prepared and I just wasn’t qualified in others.
I’ve learned that right now I’m just not ready to be a teacher.
But, I promise that I’ll continue to always outreach and mentor students (especially my past students)
My Brother. The Teacher. The True Hero.
I believe that teachers have the most important job in the world, especially Academic Teachers. It is these teachers that are teaching the students of our future – our workforce – our innovators – our leaders. So, it becomes the Teacher’s job to be these students role-models, authority figures, and beacons of hope –
EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!
My brother plans out his lesson plan every single night to make sure that i) his students are learning something valuable and ii) they’re learning in a way that keeps them entertained while something they can comprehend. For example, he’ll write his lesson plan and then start acting out the lesson. As he says, “Every class is performance and you have to be on your game at all times.”
A Performance? Yes, you need to be high-energy, say subtle things to get the students engaged (innuendos or a rap), make the students love you but also respect you at the same time, and all awhile making sure that the students are learning something. It’s hard freaking work. And, my brother does it EVERY SINGLE DAY! Jesus. Love Him.
There is a scene in the video, which I had to edit out because of continuity issues and the horrible camera angle, where he shows me his “happiness box.” The happiness box is where he keeps all the letters his students have given him in the past. And there are HUNDREDS of letters. Letters of students thanking him, students taking snapshots of their graduating pictures, students showing them their acceptance letters.
It makes me happy and tear up.
His happiness box is quite a scene of beauty.
He’s been teaching for three years. I can only imagine how big that box will be in the next three.
Teachers. If they’re good. Wow.
Education, however you learn, is the one thing that will make you a smarter person and it’s also the key to helping you get where you want to be in life. And, a great teacher (whichever it is/who it is) can be the light-tower of hope that can guide you to that place.
Thank you for reading.
See you soon.