Saudi Arabia is a place where if you don’t get good enough grades in high school, you can always become a teacher. Only a few become teachers because they’re actually passionate about teaching.
In all the 11.5 years I’ve been studying, only about four teachers stood out. The first two stood out because the way they taught showed that they actually wanted to make a difference in the world, in us. They respected us and treated us like we were people; people that could make a change. They broadened our minds in ways we couldn’t imagine. The third stood out because she was really passionate about teaching. She never cared about grades. All she wanted to do is make us learn. I still remember every single thing she taught us. The last stood out because it showed that she loved her subject. And that when she decided to become a teacher, it was because she wanted to spend the rest of her life with the subject she picked.
Four teachers out of, what? 72 teachers? And that’s REALLY understating the number. It’s sad, really. A teacher has tremendous powers. An English teacher, for example, spends 40 minutes a day with a classroom full of students who are easily influenced. That means she spends more than 200 minutes a week/93.3 hours a year with them. That’s a lot of time. In that time, a teacher could easily make a student believe that she can do whatever she wants and at the same time, could crush every ounce of confidence in that very student. A teacher could broaden our minds and make us think globally or fill our minds with prejudice. A teacher could make an Einstein out of a student or make her feel like she is one of the stupidest people on the face of the earth.
I’m a young person. My thoughts and views about this world are still developing. I know this sounds cliché, but our brains are like a sponge. I’ve been taught by a lot of teachers throughout the years that have taught us wrong things and I’m not talking from an academic point of view. I luckily, am blessed with amazing parents and siblings that have taught me how to differentiate between right and wrong, and how to question things and not just hear them and believe. But others aren’t. If a teacher makes an effort to really teach us, I think she could change our future.
I’ve always believed that becoming a teacher should be one of the toughest things. There should be standards like having decent grades, having the ability to actually explain what you know and being passionate about teaching. If the person is a genius but can’t explain what he/she knows then what’s the point of being a teacher? I know those characteristics are very hard to measure, but imagine every teacher being a great one because of them. Imagine a young generation made up of thinkers, innovators and passionate people all because of these teachers. They are the future, and the future seems a little bit brighter now.
Three years ago, I would have told you that I would never become a teacher no matter what. Yesterday, I would have told you that I wouldn’t mind being a teacher of a club at our school for one semester. Today, I have decided that if in 10 years time, I somehow ended up being a teacher, I wouldn’t mind at all.
This guy is amazing.
Finals just started which means the war between my will to not fail 12th grade and the demons of procrastination just did too. The first two days went great. I made a plan –two hours for every chapter with 10 minute breaks between them- and actually stuck to it. I even managed to finish before time the second day. Basically, I was on a roll.
My determination started deteriorating the next couple of days. I started getting distracted by the simplest of things. I once saw a file on the table and started to throw it in the air. Just throwing it. Where’s the fun in that? Fortunately, I realized what I was doing and stopped about two minutes later. Then I started singing Backstreet Boys’ songs and Disney ones too. Any normal person wouldn’t find that a problem but I’m really bad with multitasking which means when I sing something, I have to drop everything and actually focus on the singing part. Oh, and I also realized Backstreet Boys’ songs always get stuck in my head during finals. Maybe there’s a psychological/philosophical/emotional/childhoodical link between the two. I’m sure I’ll figure it out before the finals end. You know, because of all the “free time” I have.
Today was the worst yet. While I was studying, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I then turned around and looked at it and started laughing. The way I was sitting made my face look like it just gained 50 kilos and developed a triple chin along the way. I then spent the next 10 minutes in front of the mirror making different faces and laughing. The first five were spent taking pictures of my new chubby face and the other 5 minutes were spent inventing new ones.
My procrastination is even making me act extra nice to my 11 year-old sister. I actually called her into my room today and asked her what happened in school today. It’s not that I don’t talk with my sister. I actually enjoy spending time with her. It’s just that I sometimes get annoyed about the fact that she has a 15 minute-long report EVERY SINGLE DAY about what happened in school. Her life is like a never ending soap opera. I can be 6th grade’s own “Gossip Girl” with all the information I get.
It seems like I’m getting worse by the minute. I’m seriously afraid that one day I might stop studying all together. I need to find a way to procrastinate procrastination. Soon.
Procrastination is searching for videos about procrastination and then watching them.
I think this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. Mainly because, well, I want to do everything:
- Eat any kind of insect.
- Eat any kind of faeces.
- Get plastic surgery. (Except if it’s necessary, of course.)
- Watch Wuthering Heights the movie again (the 1992 version). I watched it after finishing the book in English class and I think it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. No, I’m sure it was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I get the fact that they can’t include every single detail in the movie because of time and budget but changing simple things like Cathy’s name written on a notebook instead of carved on the windowsill is just uncalled for. I don’t think that would’ve cost more than, what? Five riyals? The acting was awful.
And the actors are nothing compared to the ones I imagined in my mind. I know they can’t create human beings and alter their looks like they want to but they could’ve at least picked actors that resembled the description in the book. A more dark toned Heathcliff for example? I honestly believe that if I acted out the whole movie by myself I would produce a better movie. Okay, I think that’s enough ranting for today. Anyway, read the book. Don’t watch the movie.
- Take a physics, chemistry and Arabic test. I don’t mind the learning part. Newton’s laws are pretty interesting to me it’s just that I hate memorizing and the feeling I get before I enter an exam (shortness of breath, butterflies in my stomach, can’t walk properly, laughing uncontrollably, etc…). I’m not being a drama queen here. These things really do happen.
- Become a singer. Not that my voice is good enough to become one, anyway.
- Go to war.
I’m sure that list would reach 50 someday but I can’t really think of something I don’t want to do right now. I looked at the room I’m sitting in for inspiration but that didn’t really help. In fact, it just gave more things to add to my unwritten list of Things I Want to Do. I was going to write “Jumping off the balcony” but then I thought to myself that if someone guaranteed my safety I would jump off of it right now. It’s the breaking-all-my-bones and possibly-dying parts that stop me.
I have a love-hate relationship with me wanting to do everything. I hate it because it sets me up for a lot of disappointment. Even though I really want to become a bird for one day, for example, I know I won’t ever suddenly grow wings and fly over the Arabian Sea. And I love it because it keeps me motivated to do all kind of things.
If I happen to bump into a genie today I would wish something along the lines of this:
I would wish for the ability to master a skill in 5 days. I would have said one day or even a second but where is the fun in that? Learning the skill and facing some obstacles along the way is half the fun. I would be a public speaking guru or ace every test in school because I have mastered the art of test taking. I would bake the perfect soufflé or maybe even finally be able to dive into a pool. And I would master the art of persuasion. Countries would call me to convince others not to bomb them. Students would call me to convince their teachers to postpone the exam.
On a side note:
I’ve always wanted a rocking chair and I’ve been looking for one since we moved. I found quite a few but never the right one.
One day, I came back from school and found this in my room:
They teased me about my surprise birthday gift for about two months to the point that I told them that no gift is worth this torture and that they should just forget about. I’m a very curious person so “torture” was a perfect word for what I was going through. But it was worth it. I laughed so hard when I saw it! My friends know me too well.
Travel the world and meet all 6.5 billion humans on this earth and you won’t find great friends like these.
As soon as I step into the building, I get a feeling that overwhelms me. The smell of cleaning detergents is in the air. I have an unusual feeling in the pit of my stomach. And I can sense the sadness, the desperation and the anxiety using every sense I have in my body. As if those feelings were something that could be touched, felt or heard.
That was how I felt as soon as I stepped into the Pediatric Oncology Ward. Being a volunteer, I headed to the volunteer office to get to know the procedures and the place a little bit better. After giving us some tips, we started our first round. At first, everything went smoothly. I went in, smiled awkwardly to the mothers, trying to hide my real feelings, played with the child or read him/her a book and went out. I remember thinking to myself that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. These kids were really fine.
That thought soon left my mind when I went in room 306. I met Mohammed, a 10 year old boy that suffered from Leukemia. I remember seeing him lying on his bed; his fragile bones protruding through his pale, yellow skin. His mom called his name and told him to sit up so we could play with him. I sat beside him, asking him how he was and what activity he would want to do that day. He was too tired to speak but smiled when I showed him the crayons and coloring book. I still remember that smile as if it happened yesterday. He had a smile that would light up the darkest of rooms. Not because he had perfect white teeth. In fact, Leukemia had had its toll on those too. But because even after all that suffering, all that pain, he still smiled. I held out a blue crayon for him, and he held out his shaking hand to take it. We colored a little and talked then headed out the room. I stopped as soon as the doors closed behind me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I thanked God that that was the last of our round and went home.
One thing made me go back after that day. And it was remembering that I had made a difference. I remembered Hawra, a girl who’s laugh still echoes in my head. I remembered Ibrahim running to us in the hallway in his hospital gown begging us to play with him a game of ‘Guess Who?’, even though we’ve already played it more than 8 times that same day. I remembered Fatima and her brother approaching us in the hallway and asking us shyly if they could have a toy to play with, then running happily to their parents after thanking us. And I remembered the feeling I experienced after seeing the beautiful smiles on those little kids’ faces.
The Pediatric Oncology Ward in this hospital was like a big family. Doctors played with the children. Nurses kid around with the mothers’ patients. And doctors and nurses alike did all they could to make sure the patients and their families were cared for. They were there for each other when a child gets diagnosed with cancer. And they were there for each other when that same child finishes his last Chemo therapy session.
Although I’m not planning on studying medicine next year, this experience made me realize that I would like to be a part of that family for the years coming. And volunteering next summer is just the way I’m planning on doing that.
Remember my last post, “What Happens When Weirdos Communicate”? Yeah well, I’ve realized recently that I have weird conversations like that with about all of my friends. Here’s one I had with my friend Sara one day. I sent her this text message first:
Dear international winner of the loser contest,
Please contact me as soon as possible in order to claim your prize.
– The international committee of loserville.
I am so pleased to finally hear from you! I have been trying to win this contest for a while now. Thank you for this great opportunity!
Please send me the date and address so that I can claim my prize.
Dear… Loser Sara, is it?
Our main center is on chocolate road, between Nutella crossing and pizza main street. Our building will be the one that isn’t finished yet because we hire loser construction workers. We are devoted to all losers in the world and want them to know that we have their back.
But please, before claiming your prize, answer these questions loserly:
- What is the last project you strayed and did not finish? (I meant to write started)
- Why is school not important?
- What would you do if you were the ruler of the world?
- How is being lazy related to being a loser?
Losers for one, loser for all
– The head loser
Oh yeah! I remembered passing by that building! I also remember saying that I admired the fact that the workers took their time to finish it. It shows how carefully planned it is.
As for the questions:
- The last time I strayed from a project was yesterday. I have to admit that I stray from almost every project handed to me… But that’s what makes me special. I also plan on writing that quality on my college application. I’m sure Harvard appreciates my rare breed.
- It’s very simple really. School isn’t important because they don’t offer the “loser class”. We have math, physics and chemistry, yet the most important subject isn’t taught, which teaches you how to be a loser. I hope to fix that one day.
- I have always thought of that question…..(to be continued)
Thank you for trying to finish the letter. We appreciate your efforts.
Oh yes, Harvard has called us and wanted us to recommend someone last year. I’m sure they’re going to call us this year as well. I’ll personally make someone make someone recommend you.
Good answers. Yet I was surprised you didn’t mention that school is a vital thing to be successful in this world and that is exactly the opposite of what we want to be. Either way, your answer was unique and I’ll be waiting for that loser class.
You now have two options, either visit our center and claim your prize, or eat chocolate.
My dear role model, Mayor Loser,
WOW! Thank you! Harvard has always been a dream of mine. And I appreciate that you know that I tried my best.
Hmmm… The options I have are very difficult. Can you please make it easier by telling me what exactly is the award that’s waiting for me?
Your future to be Harvard student,
Dear Hakuna Matata,
The prize is a certificate, of course, a laptop, a year’s supplies of turtles, wireless internet wherever you go, a key to the city, a pizza the size of the sun, 40 years of paid college intuition, 10 billion dollars and a lollipop.
We know it’s a tough choice but as we always say, “You can’t do it!”
Hmmm… The year’s supply of turtles is very very nice. I realllyyy like it. And the lollipop too. These two are making my choice even harder.
May I ask for your advice, Mayor?
Dear what a wonderful word,
I, myself, would pick the chocolate. But seeing as you have a lot of years filled with loser things ahead of you, I suggest you pick the prize.
Dear Mr. or Mrs.,
Thank you, but I believe I don’t have a choice anymore. The bell just rang and apparently you had my prize sent to my house. There are turtles running around me now. And I can’t see the sun from the large pizza. The lollipop is as good as I expected it to be.
Oh, and I ate the certificate by mistake. Can you please send another copy?
Please feel free to come and visit me for some pizza.
With stomachache from the certificate,
Our institution just received your TOEFL score. We are sorry but you are not longer the winner of the loser contest. Please mail back everything that was sent to you. We do not tolerate smarties in the loser committee.
Noooo no! Please! You got the wrong scores!
I assure you, I am not smart. I am a loser.
No. 102s are not tolerated. I’m sorry.
I read on your website that you only accept people with 101 or less. I didn’t get a 102! I got a 101! 😀
While we encourage procrastination, laziness and anything that can take you to the path of loserville, lying is a big no no. We don’t have a website. Now stop bothering us you successful person!
Ahh.. Isn’t there anything I can do?
Failing 12th grade would get you back on track.
So repeating a whole year of school for chocolate?…
Are you serious! What kind of question is that? Of course I’ll do it!
Good to know you’re serious about this.
See you next year!