I will hold on to my belief that I belong to one of the most noble professions in the world.
I’m a part time college instructor.
I may not be a full pledged educator. I only became one by virtue of my part time job. But the fact that I’m teaching, I claim the rights of becoming a member of this elite group.
As much as I want to forever feel honored of being in this profession, two instances threatened to ruin everything.
Some years ago, one of my students approached me for an unlikely favor. He wanted to borrow some amount of money from me. At first I was surprised because for all I know, all the kids enrolled in our school came from middle to high income families. In our conversations, I even remember him telling me that his Father’s secretary assisted him in encoding the responses in his survey questionnaires. I gave him the money he needed. After some months, he fulfilled his promise of repaying his debt. Weeks after, he made the same request. He is a candidate for graduation so I again lend him the amount he needed. He promised to pay me after graduation. Months passed and I heard no words from him. I communicated with him through email. He asked for my account number and later told me he deposited the payment. I checked my bank account and discovered nothing. I told him what I found out and he never communicated with me again.
Months ago, a former student added me on Facebook. She was very eager to communicate with me. We would regularly exchange messages. I even gave her my mobile number, which I don’t allow with my current students. A week later, she surprised me with a text message. She was attempting to borrow a significant amount of money. I deposited a lesser amount to her bank account. I really wanted to help so I told her to pay me when she already has the means.
Weeks after, she was again attempting to borrow money. This time, I felt terrified. I didn’t bother to ask what was happening to her. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Though one of my friends told me that I should have asked. Since it’s my money that will be used, I deserve to know. To my defense, I told my friend that I have my own quota of worries. I don’t want to burden myself more. This time, I wasn’t able to lend money. Aside from the fact that my savings account is threatened, I have a feeling that I’m opening myself to be abused. As of this day, my student never communicated with me again.
I related my story to my Mother and as expected, it was another bad decision I made.
As I was recalling these two stories, frustration transpired as my prevalent sentiment. I was frustrated for many reasons.
I was frustrated because I was convinced that our students will all have a better life after graduation. I assumed that their lives are mapped out that way. I failed to see the reality that finishing school is not guarantee of financial progress. Oh well, I should have seen myself as a living example. I have a Master’s degree but I’m troubled with all the debts I have to pay. Added to these are my fears of not being able to support my aging parents and special brother.
Another source of my frustration is the respect that I seemed to lost. When my first student decided to deceive me, I felt disrespected. It wasn’t really because of the money that he failed to return. The feeling of being disrespected emanates from his attempt of lying to me. I may not even qualify as a good teacher but at the very least, he knows that I did my job. I made all means so that they can beat the deadline for the thesis defense. I slept with their paper and did my best to have them submit a decent work.
As for my other student, my sentiments remain the same. She and her classmates know that I’m an equally struggling educator. They see me commute everyday. I take all forms of public transportation. I don’t eat in the expensive school canteen. I never owned an expensive phone. I use same pair of black shoes. She sees me lining up at Bayad Centers for the pile of bills. But why did she choose to rely to their equally struggling teacher? But I think the better question would be, why did they choose to disregard me when they have all means to reach me. I felt used and abused. I felt disrespected.
At this point, I’m no longer after the money that they promised to return. I’m actually fine extending some assistance. What rather frustrates me is that while they have all the means to tell me the truth, they chose to hide and ignore my existence.
If they care enough to respect me as a person, they should have told me that they don’t have plans of treating me one.