I thought after a few semesters of teaching, saying goodbye gets easier. But apparently, it's still just as tough, if not more so over the years.
So here it goes:
This semester was particularly challenging for me. It was the first time I handled that many classes, and the sheer number of students has put a strain on me. In a way, I feel ashamed that I am a bit more jaded, a bit more bitter than my usual self. I hope it did not show that much in my classes. The amount of orals I have to listen to, and the written exams and quizzes that I have to check, have curtailed my freedom in a lot of aspects. But there's always a part of me that says I have to push through with it all, because I don't want this batch to not have same quality of learning that I've put my students through in the past.
There are times when I would just look into the classroom, seeing all your faces. Sometimes I wonder if I've really taught you guys anything. In a few years, I doubt any of the things I've discussed in class would have stuck in your heads. I bet, when next schoolyear starts, you might have even forgotten most of the terms that we've gone through this semester. (I bet some of you might have just flushed down all that Bible familiarity and quotes test gunk the moment you leave the written exam test room.)
At this point I know not everyone will pass this course, nor would most people get the grade that they aim for or that they think they deserve. To some extent, these are my limits as a teacher. I might have not taught you guys well enough. Theology is tough. I know that firsthand. But grades are just numbers. The true test comes when you've stepped out of the classroom. How you react to the eternal thou as you see their faces in the streets, how you treat other people knowing that all of them are eternally valuable, how you carry yourself in the face of the oppressive structures in the country - these are the true tests, and for that there are no grades. Success, then here, is not gauged by one's letter marks, but by the number of hearts you've come to touch.
You will all go through different paths, traverse different roads. I do not know where those roads might lead, but always remember, if at any time you get lost in the wilderness, remember to listen to the voices that tell you to go where you are most happy, and just as importantly, to go where you are most needed.
And if at all you are still lost after that, never lose sight of the things that matter most. Dreams, hopes and expectations are never just "deceptive dreams, abortive hopes and expectations unfulfilled" as Sartre might say. Never give in to those dark horizons. Rather, remember to see the beauty in everything, and that we should always look at the world and its possibilities with new eyes. Because God's final word is always hope.
And if still after that you are unsure what to do, don't forget what I keep hammering to you guys in class. Risk. Risk it all. There is always a chance that the road you take leads to a dead end. But so what? What matters is not so much the end, but the journey. Besides, in the end, all roads lead back to God.
I wish to remember all of you. Sadly, I am prone to forgetfulness. I have bad memory, something I inherited from my mom. And as much as in the future I will forget many of your names, and even further on, I might forget many of your faces, always remember that you've already left your mark in my heart, and hopefully, I've made mine in yours as well.
Thank you for putting up with my nonsense, my addiction to the UAAP, my inadvertent and sudden mood swings, my long-winding lectures, my crappy drawings on the board, my games. You do not know how much joy you've brought into my life, and I hope the same can be said with yours.
Someone asked me what legacy I'd want to impart to my students. And I reply by saying that I have nothing to impart. But if I had a legacy to leave behind, well, my students are my legacy. You are all my legacy.
I hate saying goodbyes. The finality is a bit off-putting for me. I'd rather say these three things to you guys: (1) "farewell" - a hopeful parting, wishing one another smooth sailing on the seas of life - (2) "Godspeed" - so that God may guide you in all your endeavors, to grace you in all that you do, and find him in all that you see - and finally, something that should be familiar to you guys, (3) "shalom," - because I wish you wholeness as you leave towards that which sets you apart in the world. Always remember to dream greater than yourself. Never dream anything less.
Here's this semester's swan song: find where you are most holy, and I would have done my part as your teacher.
PS: Paano mo malalaman na dumaan ka sa Theo121 ni Justin Badion
- Alam mo ang ibig sabihin ng "Birds don't fly because they have wings, they have wings because they fly."
- Alam mong walang apple sa Bible, pero you're sure may mga ostrich dun
- Marunong ka magcite ng sources mo in Turabian, at alam mo ang ibig sabihin ng cf. at ibid.
- Alam mo kung sino ang nagsabi ng "The heart has its reasons which reason does not know of"
- Memorized mo ang Hebrews 1:1-2
- Alam mo ang konsepto ng Realpolitik
- Alam mong may quiz pag may tumunog na cellphone
- Alam mo kung ano ang totoong "cherub" at kung paano ito i-pronounce ng tama
- Alam mo kung paano i-explain ng tama ang original sin, bilang HoD at SoW
- May sagot ka sa problema ni Fat Man
- Alam mo na may tatlong parts ang isang parable
- Kaya mong pagkasyahin ang mga sagot mo sa mga maliliit na spaces, tulad ng gilid ng thesis statement sheet, o kaya sa isang post-it, o kaya sa eight lines ng isang crosswise.
- Alam mo na may apat na movements ang first creation story, at ito'y nasa loob ng verses 1:1 hanggang 2:4a
- Alam mo kung ano ang tunay na ibig sabihin ng freedom
- Alam mo kung sino ang #17 ng Ateneo basketball team. At #17 ng La Salle.
- Alam mo na mahal na mahal ka ng Theo teacher mo na napakagaling at napakahusay magturo (at hindi marunong ng konsepto ng humility)
A small selection from my student's suggested songs.
October 14, We Come Running - Youngblood Hawke
October 15, Love Save the Empty - Erin McCarley
October 16, Punching in a Dream - The Naked and Famous
October 17, Constant Conversations - Passion Pit
October 18, If I Die Young - The Band Perry
October 19, Five Days of Summer - Joe Brooks
October 20, Some Nights - Fun.
October 21, Go - Boys Like Girls