The Audacious Act of Educating (v.2)
a series on fulfilling a purpose
verse two, back in the day
Before we continue on, it’s worth noting I’ve been on this path for a while now. Though the road has never been easy.
On a Thursday evening, two months after my college graduation, my father said some things a son should never hear. This was the same man who fled across the world in hopes of a better life, the man who delivered pizzas in the rain to make ends meet, while learning English and driving a broken down Ford Maverick. To find his way through the affluent streets of Palo Alto, he laid a map out on the hood of that blue car, searching for intersections in the dark as the minutes ticked away.
Thirty minutes or the pizza’s free. You make no money. And you hear words from complete strangers that a grown man, caring for his family, should never hear.
That night I decided to share with my father something of a change. Instead of medical school which I’d given up on during freshman year, and rather than law school for which I couldn’t conjure an essay to save my life, I had big dreams of changing the world on my own terms.
All through high school I’d been told by classmates and teachers, including the grey-bearded Mr. Greer from Geometry, that I had a knack for sharing information. There was something about presenting that brought joy instead of fear, how innately I used that old Macintosh to create content, and the ease with which I shared my work. I hadn’t forgotten about this in college.
Matter of fact, the day I learned about Applied Behavioral Sciences and the ability to impact communities, I knew I’d never take another chemistry class. I was fascinated by the power of possibility, stories of communities both falling apart and coming together, and most of all the Asian American experience. And so I started speaking to peers, establishing on-campus organizations, and leading change within the neighborhoods of nearby Sacramento.
Deciding on a career, I felt the urge to follow what authentically meant the most, maybe emulating the likes of Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver,” — most definitely becoming the person I was destined to be. It felt right, coming from the heart. A universal calling too strong be to be ignored. And so I shared with my father the decision to pursue teaching. In that moment, as we spoke, I could feel the entire course of life shifting.
It was when he started telling me how worthless I’d become. How I’d made such a stupid decision to waste my degree, and that everything he’d ever done to build our future had been lost on me. He asked why I’d ever want to teach. Why I even went to college in the first place, if this was the goal.
What was the point?
Turns out, in making an unselfish and noble decision to provide for others, I’d shattered his life-long dreams for me. And in the eyes of a father who gave so much, choosing this path meant I’d be nothing more than an embarrassment to the family.
It was a lot to work through. So for almost a year we didn’t speak. Because there were no words left to say. I’d already heard some things that a son, who’d always tried to make his father proud, should never hear.
P.S. If you wake up with a desire to disrupt the status quo and change the world, please go on to read Verse 3, and share with others as we continue learning more about one another, one story at a time.