Authors Note: Instead of using stock photos, I thought it would be nice to share some photos from the time I was volunteering at an NGO in India, as a teacher.
My affair with teachers started since I was born. I have lived under the same roof with a teacher all my life. I had the opportunity to learn under inspirational teachers, from primary school to university. And now, I have friends who are teachers too.
It’s really strange that each time I look into their eyes (it might just be me), I see not only eyebags, but a glean of weariness in their eyes. As they share about the day-to-day happenings in their jobs, it got me thinking – the sort of stuff they face at work makes them the best travel buddy ever.
Here is why.
1. Teachers are caring.
Hey, I’m not sure if this is a stereotype, but most of the teachers I know are like that. At dinners, they are always refilling your cup. They are cutting and cooking the meat at Korean BBQs. They always have solutions to offer for your life problems. When travelling, they always seem to have that item you have missed out – an adaptor, a tube of toothpaste, or an extra pair of socks.
2. Teachers have a sixth sense.
I’m not sure if this is relevant to male teachers, but I guess so too. A teaching job involves interacting with people – students, parents and the school’s administration. If someone’s moody, they are bound to sense it. Perhaps it’s just the volatility of the school environment – small ‘he don’t friend me’ arguments, uncontrolled-pee wees and impolite parents that make them so sensitive to people’s problems and dangers lurking around the corner.
3. Teachers are well equipped to handle difficult people.
It’s true. The great thing about teachers is they are never going to let an unreasonable person get his way. After facing a hordes of naughty children, unpleasant parents and demanding superiors, a cheating taxi-driver is no match for their polite, yet firm tone. At the end of the day, a smooth trip always involves some people management skills to get you past the kinks. And teachers are the best at that.
4. Teachers are punctual (and early birds).
Okay, great if you’re a morning person and the punctual type too. I may be stereotyping here again but the teachers I know hate to be late for appointments. Be it wedding dinners, informal friend gatherings or shopping trips, teachers are always there on the dot, or even 15 minutes earlier. Not sure if it is the same overseas, but the teachers I know also have an early sleeping regime of 11.00pm and early waking time of 5.30am. They make great travelling partners especially if you’re the type who believes in “An early bird catches the worm.”
5. Teachers have school vacation time to go travelling!
The great thing about being a teacher is the semi-long breaks you get at each vacation. While there might be a need to return to school for planning purposes or to conduct enrichment classes, there’s at least two weeks for them to head off to a foreign land. With that opportunity to take off about two times a year or more, It’s not hard to understand why teachers have a great grasp of the places and things around them. Which leads me to the point below.
6. Teachers are knowledgeable.
I’m not sure if this applies to all teachers, but most of them are, and it’s really heartening to have teachers who are able to share with you stories and perspectives from around the world. In a simple and engaging manner. Some of my friends enjoy reading, and it’s always nice to have a ‘walking Wikipedia’ next to you regaling fun facts of a European castle, a Mona Lisa work of art or history of the Tang Dynasty. (Ok, some fun facts will be great, but not too many. ^^)
7. There is never a boring time with teachers.
I’m serious. There is no wonder why so many drama series are set in schools. Each day there is a different story. Be it the poor student who got scolded by her parent for not getting full marks, to the parent who sent a not so pleasant text message, to the kid who ran off to the shopping mall during school time. Of course there are also the sweet, moving stories. Of how repeated coaching helped a student who did badly in his studies move on a grade, and how a simple thank you card on Teacher’s day made their day.
8. Teachers make good travellers, because they need you as much as you need them.
I know it’s a strange way to put this, but a companionship evolves only when there is give and take. If you’re always having to rely on a person, chances are, you’ll feel less close than if the person looks to you for help as well.
And teachers need that Someone. That listening ear to unload the Tales and (sometimes) Tears of unpleasant students, parents and work requirements. That motivational voice to re-ignite their passion to teach and remind them of the goals they had set out to achieve. A guiding hand to prevent them from being disillusioned and to point them to the principles in life that they have stood for.
* * *
Teaching is not for the faint-hearted. And many a time, teachers need support, not just from fellow teachers, but from outsiders, to show them how they have changed lives with their persistence and simple words. What better way to do that then with a trip with them? Amid watching the sunrise at Mount Kinabalu, it’s never a better way help them relax, and help them see a different perspective past their stressful work lives.
And chances are, you’ll be wowed by what they have to offer too. As the old saying goes, “When the Student is ready, the Teacher will appear.”