“Why don’t you pursue nursing? You are an RN anyway.”
I used to get this question after telling a friend what I do. And, I consistently failed to give an answer. I was always embarrassed. But, I did not know exactly why. I used to agree that I wasted my parents’ money considering that education in the Philippines has always been costly. They did not know how much I hated teaching and how badly I wanted to be a nurse. However; no matter how hard I tried to find a job as a nurse, I never found one. I felt like either I did not try hard enough or I was never really meant to be a nurse – I hope not. I gave up and convinced myself that being an ESL teacher is not bad at all Is it?
I met a woman twenty-five years my senior. She was a school teacher but she left the school and settled in being an ESL educator. I could not fathom why so I asked her. She told me her reasons then asked me why I was teaching in front of a computer, virtually; why I was not in a hospital, a clinic, a community or a company working as a nurse. And, I could only give her one reason – I needed a job. But, I realized I could be a customer service representative or a freelancer and yet I chose to be an ESL educator. There must be a reason. There must be reasons.
After years of finding the answer, I realized that I only have one main reason for teaching online – the fulfillment I feel when I see my learners succeed. This is what is keeping me from leaving the industry. Being fulfilled is subjective and I think this is my definition of fulfillment. I have taught countless students, have conducted hundreds or even thousands of classes but I must say that I have learned a lot as well. I realized that being an ESL teacher does not make me any less of a teacher. I am still an educator. My experience taught me to be more patient, we all know teaching kids (sometimes, adults too) is challenging, your patience must be longer than the Great Wall of China.
I learned to be more tolerant because being Filipino matters to some learners. The pressure to prove you are qualified to do the job is always there. So, you must have that game face on. I learned to be more creative because there are activities that are easier to deliver in classrooms than online. So, I must find ways to execute an activity online smoothly – Thank you MS Powerpoint, MS Paint and Google for your intangible existence!
Now, if people will ask me why I chose to be an ESL teacher instead of being a nurse, I know what to say: I may have failed to land the job that I wanted but I have successfully found my lifelong career. At the end of the day, I am fulfilled.