“What made you stay in Silliman University?” This question is not really difficult to answer for people who are confident that they are in the right track. If someone would ask me this question, I don’t really have a definite answer yet. It doesn’t mean though that I am not in the right track. Being a faculty of this academic institution for 10 years, I think this question is quite timely. So, what made me stay in Silliman?
While working on this article, I realized that there are several reasons that made me not leave the halls of Silliman. But I would like to focus on three reasons. Of course, it is an honor and privilege to serve an institution which has helped me strengthen my character, competence and faith. Silliman has encouraged me to go beyond the routines of delivering lessons in the classroom, checking papers, and beating the deadline of submission of grades at the end of every semester. I have to go out of my comfort zone and change my perspective of what a teacher really is and what a teacher should be. Through conducting research in my own classrooms, I become more reflective of my ways in teaching. I also realize that it is not enough to identify the problems experienced by students in the classrooms; teachers should also be “solution-seekers” or “problem-solvers”. Moreover, Silliman has also provided me an avenue to extend my service to the community. I was given the opportunity to share insights from my research to national conferences and to facilitate a seminar-workshop to other teachers in an Asian country. So far these experiences remind how Silliman has contributed to my professional growth. These were exhausting but immensely rewarding steps to grow as a teacher.
Another reason for staying in Silliman is the relationship and friendship I have established with my colleagues. Through the supportive and fostering atmosphere, I was able to adapt and shift to the paradigm of teaching considering that I am a Mass Com graduate. Although it was not quite an easy journey, I was surrounded with people at the English and Literature Department who have patiently raised and nurtured me as a teacher. For that, I do and will always consider this department my family, my home in Silliman. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, I tell you, but this family has taught me how to brace myself for unexpected twists in my teaching career and even in my personal life. I think this is the same reason of the many graduates who chose to stay in Silliman. There’s no place like home.
Lastly, I have stayed for 10 years and 3 months to be exact in Silliman because it is God’s plan. He knows what my passion has ever been since I was 5 years old. I remembered sharing what I learned from school to my playmates who could not go to school and finding joy in what I was doing. In return, they taught me how to climb trees or play luksong baka because they were good at these things. I love teaching and hope that this will last for more decades. What makes me passionate about being a teacher? I always look forward to every semester because of the learning I can get from students. Yes, I also learn many things from my students. Similar to what my playmates did, my students also teach me lessons about life. The experiences, emotions, sorrows, happiness, success, failures and insights they wrote on their essays provided me a picture of the lives of one generation of learners to another, the kinds of decisions they make, what kind of learners they are, etc.
A decade has passed. I still look forward to going to Katipunan Hall where our department is located to prepare for my classes and check students’ papers. I still go up (although I don’t look forward to this) to the fourth floor of Ausejo Hall to hold my Basic Communication classes. Will I still stay for another decade? If God allows me, then yes. There might be other opportunities for me to leave the halls of Silliman. However, it doesn’t mean completely leaving. Wherever we are, whether we are in, near or far from this university, the truth and faith that Silliman gave us will remain forever.