Why Do We Choose?
July 20, 2011
I spotted him across the room during the meeting. He seemed very engaged and full of life, and he participated freely in the meeting. I was looking for someone to interview and was drawn to him.
“Why do you choose to teach in this school?” I asked through my translator Joshua Osborne.
“I love children and want to make a difference in their lives,” he said.
“I mean, why this school,” I said. “This school is in the middle of a squatters village. For as far as I can see, the children you teach live in one room houses with no electricity or running water. In addition to the normal challenges you face in teaching children, you have the added obstacles of the abject poverty that show up in your classroom every day.”
Recognition dawned in his eyes and he said, “Oh, I understand.” He smiled and looked away.
Then he said, “Well, you see, my father was a teacher in one of the poorest sections of our city. He worked long hours and often, after school and on the weekends, he went to the home of his students to talk to their parents. Frequently, he took me with him. I saw first hand the impact he had in the lives of people.
Again, he looked away. I couldn’t tell if he was still thinking about the question. I wondered if he was remembering his father.
Then he said, “The problems he faced were overwhelming at times, and he always seemed so happy – so filled with life. The way he lived his life influenced my choice a great deal.”
His name is Victor Ramirez and he and his wife have taught for 14 years at the La Paz School. Well educated and very passionate about his work, it was obvious that he could be a teacher in one of the better schools in Guatemala City.
He had chosen to be with these children in the La Paz School.
We met Victor today at a meeting called by Principal Irene. She asked all 24 faculty members to gather so that we could get acquainted with each other. Twenty-four faculty members . . . we were shocked into remembering that the school has 941 students. We did the math. The teacher/student ratio is staggering.
The faculty meeting was a time designed for us to meet the teachers and to help prepare us for the two days of training that will begin tomorrow. Principal Irene dismissed school at 10 am so that entire faculty could meet with us. We spent the time getting acquainted, listening to them describe the challenges they face on a daily basis, and inviting them to share their dreams for themselves and the children they teach.
It was a very human time of realizing that no matter where you live and what circumstances you live in, we all have the same hopes and dreams for our children.
When the meeting was over, hugs were shared all around. We briefly outlined what would take place tomorrow.
And I walked away thinking about Victor Ramirez feeling very grateful for his commitment and wondering what influences how people choose what they do with their lives.
Please pray for Sharon, Julie, Betty, Jeremy, and Sara . . . tomorrow they are providing teacher training for 100 teachers. They've been planning for 50 teachers in the morning and 50 in the afternoon. This afternoon they learned that each group of 50 will be divided into two separate rooms. All their planning has assumed that all the teachers would be together. So, they've been adjusting and changing their plans all afternoon. Pray for peace in their hearts, for deep connections to the Guatemalan teachers, and for an ability to communicate that transcends language differences.
Jim Herrington for Sharon Benka, Ryan Donovan, Betty Herrington, Julie Leon, Todd McCombs, Sarah Ruzic, Jeremy Stewart, and Jovon Tyler