My students love me just as I love them. They come to call me when they are free and I am glad I make them enjoy Chemistry as a subject. Some days back, after teaching for two hours at a stretch, they wanted more. I couldn’t spend another 40minutes teaching them so I decided to use their free time to gist with them.
Today, I recalled again what I said to them and realized I hadn’t really put to practice all that I had preached.”I attended a secondary school just as local as yours”, I began. “I was so small when I wasin my final year in secondary school, yet I was very intelligent and was made the senior prefect. My intelligence alone wasn’t the reason I was chosen among others, my teachersmust have seen something else because I wasn’t the most brilliant. I also had no confidence in myself. One day, my English teacher asked whether I could represent the school in a debate competition. I didn’t think I could and I told him same. He persuaded me to give it a try. He told me to go work on the topic, something on corruption. He said he believed I could do it. At the time, I had only dreamt many times that I stood before a large crowd and addressed them and got hearty cheers. But that was where it ended: the dreams.I went home to work on the topic. Didn’t take me so long to finish it and the next day, I presented the essay to my teacher who was surprised at my level of knowledge of new vocabulary. He asked what I meant by ‘Nigerians in Diaspora’. He was surprised that an SS2 student would know what that meant. The school was that local. He told me to dresswell because I would be representing my school the following day in that debate.The following day, I was so tensed. I knew I was scared. But when the competition started and my school was called and I stood before the small crowd and the panel of judges, I became confident. I spoke with such authority that surprised me. And I made it through to the next stage and the next stage.Since that day, I represented my school in essay writing competitions and every other literary event, I bagged a scholarship. I spoke confidently with top government officials and I wasn’t yet 16”.My students all listened with rapt attention. I continued, “That you are in a local school shouldn’t be your reason for not believing in yourself. The same girl who attended a local secondary school is the same girl who has travelled to places, met people she probably wouldn’t meet if she hadn’t believed in herself, that same girl didn’t give up and is here standing before you against all odds. You should never look down on yourselves. Whether or not you have an English teacher, speak proper English Language at all times, practice iteveryday, you ladies should carry yourselves with confidence and dignity, never allow anyone look down on you, prove your worth by being intelligent, do away with pessimism, be focused. Do you understand?”. “Yeees Miss Aidee”, they all chorused. Then the questions began to pour in and I answered them all.
My students love me just as I love them. Teaching them and watching them enjoy a subject they never liked brings me joy. Having them come to me to give them harder problems than what I taught in class inspires me. I teach them what I taught myself. But life is happening. I’ve stopped being the girl I used to be; that girl I told them about. That girl was me. That girl isn’t me. I got distracted. I looked forward to getting older. I wanted to be 18, then when I was 18, I wanted to be 20. Now I’m above 20 and I realize life’s happening real fast.Keeping a personal diary is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I usually go through my diary on my birthday. Today isn’t my birthday but I read my diary. I’ve stopped being that girl. That girl who dreamed and pursued the dream. Sometimes, I write and I read and I realize I wrote, not for others, but for myself. This message is for me…and others who got distracted. Find yourself again. Somewhere deep down is that person who once was, exhume that one. Stay focused.