The passion of teaching is encapsulated in one man: Gustavo. It is believed that he is one of the most fervent lecturers on campus. Therefore, I have taken this opportunity to find out more about his passion. As I enter the doorway to his office, I immediately recognize his small baseball cap resting on his head. A broad smile, which is suggestive of the pleasure of seeing his student, appears on his face. He extends his right hand, gives a warm handshake, and greets me brightly in Spanish: "Hola amigo". His office consists of twelve waiting chairs, a wide collection of books, a computer, a desk full of papers, a football, a writing board and lots of language CD's and cassettes.
Gustavo must be one of the most dedicated lecturers at the University. He left his homeland, Colombia, on August 24, 2004 to become a lecturer. His reason is: "teaching is my major calling in life. I would go anywhere to teach." This has been his only profession for twenty four years and he does not intend to change it. His motto is to "make every student feel the value of life and learning".
Surprisingly, Gustavo has not always had such enthusiasm to teach. When asked about the beginning of his career, he chuckles and exclaims disappointingly: "Terrible terrible." He was a bit reluctant in confessing that his performance was impeded by uncontrollable drinking and smoking habits. In fact, he was absent from work many times because of his drunkenness. Therefore, with his head slightly bowed, he admits regrettably that he may have been the downfall in the lives of some students.
Then, with a sudden gleam in his eyes and in a tone of self-satisfaction, he exclaims: "but I'm beyond that now." Six years after he began teaching, Gustavo was invited to church by a close friend and "the spirit of God" moved him. Now, he says, he is a "double teacher"; he ministers at Sunday school and lectures at Universities. Also, he has decided to travel overseas to share his experience as a teacher, to promote his culture and to gain even more experience to make him an even better teacher.
Fascinated by his inspirational experience, I enquire about him missing his loved ones.
-"What about your family members? Don't you miss them?"
-"I do very much. I email my wife eight times per day and call her every Saturday."
He further sates that even though he loves his family so dearly, he is obliged to teach wherever he can. He is willing to set his personal desires aside- temporarily he stresses- to seek after his passion in teaching.
This delight for teaching will not end in Barbados. After his contract is ended, Gustavo hopes to travel to the United States- with his family by his side this time- to gain even more experience in teaching. He points enthusiastically to an application letter that he is typing, two years in advance, which would secure him a post at the University of Miami. He then boasts: "I know the Spanish style of teaching. I now know the English style. Next I must know the American style." With this remark, he gives a short laugh which accentuates his pleasure of teaching.
At that moment, his cap catches my attention once again. I therefore ask about its significance. He answers "I want to be different". Gustavo confesses that no other lecturer wears a hat to work. His sports hat symbolizes his acceptance to work along with the youth through mutual understanding.
Finally, he recognizes the urge for all educators to be as passionate as him. In order to effectively impart knowledge, there must be a true desire to do so. While teaching in Colombia, he was actively involved in organizing theatrical performances, sporting activities and student counselling. Obviously, he was involved in all domains of the education system. He vows to continue performing as professionally wherever he goes for the advancement of his students.
As I conclude our interview, I offer my sincerest gratitude. However, he interjects saying: "Thank you for allowing me to be a teacher." He reminds me that his ardour lies in helping students. I remain in my seat, look at him with content and try to imagine myself someday being as devoted as him in my future profession. This interview was brief but very inspirational to me. I learned firsthand the key to being effective in whatever I do: dedication and passion. This is a valuable lesson to everyone also. Therefore, from this day, I vow to be the best I can be so that one day I may be as proud as Gustavo.
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