Gabe Reid, 130 TESS
Well, bpit term is over now, I’ve explored more of Southeast Asia, my teacher trainings are all wrapped up, and I have officially passed the torched to my counterparts in the classroom — at least I think so. Now what? Well, my heart can only focus on one thing before I return to America: posterity.
Working with primary school students here in Thailand, with only two years to serve, has served as a close analogy to fatherhood for me: Just as a father’s physical time with his children is limited like our service, his influence can continue long after he is gone, also like our service. Of course, fatherhood is much more than being a male volunteer. Yet, this experience has sparked a paternal love inside of me, a fatherly care for future generations that was absent from my heart before I joined the Peace Corps.
I am so grateful for this opportunity because I feel like it has developed qualities that I would want as a father. Like how my patience here has been tested in a unique way: teaching students a foreign language and giving them time to learn new vocabulary and reason with new sentence structures. Learning new ways to be gentle like correcting a youngster with animated guidance instead of my natural inclination of repeating myself sternly. I’ve had to be protective like never before over children, not just from bullying, but also from foolish behavior that harms themselves and others. I have even made ridiculous attempts to be funny just to make sure my kids crack up everyday, even if they are struggling to learn.
It’s like, “I am surprised at how much I care about these kids and now I have to go.” But before I leave, all I can wonder is:
- Was there something about me that my students can look forward to practically emulating when they reach adulthood? That would one generation of influence.
- Will their children emulate them in turn? That would another.
- How have I helped my counterparts lead the next generation? I guess our influence really can be as numerous as the sand on the seashore.
- Did I provide any instruction to my children that will help them towards economic development?
- With this short time I have left, is there anything else I can do to inspire posterity?
Obviously, I do not know what fatherhood is all about, but this is the closest I have ever felt to it. I imagine any parent wonders about these things — and a whole host of more. Of course, I’ll never know exactly what influence I may have on the future success of posterity in Thailand, but with only a few months left before we return to America, it’s all I can think about.
Check out Gabe’s contributions about The Art of Teaching and Peace Corps is a Ball Game.
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