My wedding was in June, 2020 just after quarantine. Every woman does want to have a baby and lives with passion of beacoming mom. So did I. I had to wait almost 6 months to get pregnant. When I appeared to know that I was pregnant I was over the moon. I can't say I had really hard time during pregnancy. I was just sensitive to the smells so I couldn't cook meals and nothing more. However, I didn't know how hard days were waiting for me. At the end of May, 2021 I was informed that baby's water was gone and almost non left. We made several chech-ups but the answers were the same. So I had to go to the hospital. My baby was too small to be born but the doctors decided to take it out after five days of treatment otherwise it was really dangerous for me and baby. Because my temperature was getting higher and higher. They took my baby out by caesarean section in 29th week of pregnancy. It was too small that could not breathe itself. My mother prayed for me and baby all the time, my parents did everything they could so that I and my baby would get better and let it live. After a week baby started breathing himself. It was the biggest happiness for the whole family. We were at the hospital for about a month. Then we went home holding my baby in my arms. Thanks God he is now a healthy boy. He can run, jump, say several words, understand everything he hears, play with his dady and he loves his little brother, too.
I have seen in my own experience that the Covid-19 has had a strong impact not only on people's lives, but also on the economy and education. It was the year I started working at the school after just graduating from university. Since I did not have experience of working with school students, I mainly took classes from primary school and less senior classes to teach. It was just my first year of working at the school. I was having my fair share of challenges working with pupils of varying learning abilities. In order to help them, I had to work with pupils who have difficulty in learning for free. When it was the last weeks of the third quarter, which is the longest study quarter in the schools of Uzbekistan, a week-early vacation for all kinds of schooling was announced that people infected with Covid-19 were also detected in the territory of Uzbekistan. The vacation lasted for several weeks, and the prohibition of going out became stronger as the days passed. In such days, I began to think about such questions like "what will happen to school education?" "How to continue studying?" As the most of my school children were small, there was a high possibility that they would forget their knowledge if they were not engaged for a while. When it became clear that the situation would not improve for a long time, it was decided that school education would be continued online, and teachers of each subject prepared and broadcast video lessons on television. In addition, we prepared topic explanations and gave tasks as video lessons and shared them with the students, and checked the tasks they completed all through the Telegram network. The course of the lessons in this form was a convenient environment for students to copy from each other, at the same time to get grades without studying and effort. This could be seen from the fact that many students (of course, not all) did the tasks and exercises in the same way. It was especially noticeable among primary school pupils. However, warning parents about preventing plagiarism could not help much. This was how the last quarter and the 2019-2020 academic year ended, and the students went on summer holiday. On September 19, which was the beginning of the new academic year 2020-2021, students started going to school following the sanitary rules. In the process of learning new themes with students, the fact that pupils could not master the lessons well during online classes had a strong impact on their ability to understand new topics. Because in the textbooks, the themes are always arranged step by step to study, depending on each other. As older students, who had had less difficulty, developed independent learning skills, it caused elementary school children could not understand the new lessons that during quarantine they had not been able to learn the topics in live examples during face-to-face lessons with the teacher. Their lack of understanding led to the fact that they had missed a lot of knowledge without mastering it, and as a result, the students' knowledge decreased. Not having live lessons with schoolchildren, especially elementary students, brought many difficulties and problems to teachers too. Despite the fact that the quarantine is now completely over, teachers are experiencing the difficulties of filling the "void" in the minds of many students. Because the greatest failures of the future will come because of the poor quality of education today. For this reason, the responsibility of successful future forces teachers to eliminate the problems caused by Covid-19.
I saw him sitting in a metro station and studying in that street light. I was hardly in class V to understand how much dedication it needed to study like that. In my school, I used to hear the story of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar who used to study in the street light. Was this child a Vidyasagar in the making? He was of my age or maybe a little older. He lived in that roadside shanty his parents have built. I had no idea of child trafficking etc. at that age. I only thought of how disadvantaged that child was. I used to study in a posh school in Esplanade locality and while commuting, I used to see him every evening. Metro was new in Kolkata in the '80s and hence we used to love travelling in Metro. He used to be available at the entrance of the Metro station every day. One day it was news in local Kolkata newspapers, too. Everybody was amazed to see the dedication of a child who is deprived of everything else in life. Everyone was saluting him too. Chintoo. That was how others around him used to call him. He was going to a municipal school, thanks to a local NGO. The books he used to read was donated by them. But all those were in Bengali. I asked him if he wanted to study English. He was very eager but didn't know how he could do that. As studying in mother tongue itself was a big challenge for him. I was from an English medium and in class V we were writing small essays in English. I was privileged enough to have my food all four times a day, to have teachers to teach me all subjects and also the schooling of an elite school. I realized that the only reason he was not having any of these was he was born in an extremely poor family. But the question to me was, even Vidyasagar was born in a poor family too. If he could become revered and honoured as he is today, then why can't this little boy. So I thought if I could do something – I have cut down on my play time by one hour every day and decided to teach him English. I could not tell this to my parents as they would have objected to it. I have taken my old English books and two Bengali story books to him and given them to him. I can never forget the joy I saw on his face that day. He was beaming with joy. His sparkling eyes told thousands of things together but he could not express his feeling properly. He grabbed them, hugged them, kissed them and later broke down in tears. I was watching him all through. In those days there used to be no police near Metro gates. But one policeman suddenly came from nowhere and started asking me a lot of questions. I told him that I gave my old books only and my parents asked me to do that. Well, I felt so good at telling a lie that day. For the next six months, every day I used to come that way I used to teach him English basics. He told his NGO aunty and they have shifted him to a school where he could learn English. In the meantime, one newspaper reporter caught us in action. He wanted to know my name and take our photo, I told him not to report my name as my parents did not know. I told them lies about my being late. But his report did come in local newspapers without my name and photo. My parents were praising the boy but didn't know it was their baby, who was grown up by then. My need for being his teacher ended as he was shifted to another school where he got good English teachers. I remembered the experience for long. I continued to give him my old books so that he could read and I continued to feel the joy of giving. Today he is working as a company executive in Chennai. His parents died in the late '90s due to a road accident. He is a graduate today. When I see him today, I feel we all have a Vidyasagar in us. Only we need to recognize that and get a proper opportunity (or maybe less of it but with a lot of enthusiasm) to awaken that spirit. Do I call this honesty? I was honest with the boy but not to my parents. Was it kindness? Some may say yes, but that time I felt it was my duty to give my books to someone who wanted to experience the joy reading rather than letting the books sold off to local vendors after some time. Was it for compassion? Maybe, I don't know. I only know I was amazed by his dedication. Respected for his desire to learn.
Have you ever woke up so early in the morning while the sky is still dark, the quiteness remains around you, you are still on the bed, looking at the ceiling and feeling like you are home? Have you ever thought if you had a power to fly or you can just be wherever you can, you would wish to be first immediately home? Or probably in a silent moment, you just sit, taking a deep breath, looking at the sky, and your heart is just taken away becuase of the distance? Have you ever wondering how is everyone doing there on the other side of the world? Have you ever seen others' posting photos with their family on those social media, and you just miss the time when you used to spend together with your family? Or maybe sometime when you go for a walk, you see parents holding their kid's hands walking around, and you just miss the time when you were young? If you have been that, tell me how do you feel? And what can you do? Sometime it is hard to hold the feeling inside, isn't it? so you let your tear down, and you may feel a bit better. That is your homesick feeling, and yeah, HOME, a place you spend with your family back then. Home, where your past great memories were created. Being homesick is another stage of culture shocks that happens when you are in a foreign country. It is called dissolution. You start missing your hometown, foods, friends, family..etc. Generally, i am talking about students' living and studying abroad. If you are homesick, take a deep breath, keep reminding yourself of the reasons that you decided to come to this place. Start thinking of your goals and your future, reminding yourself that there are still a long way to go through, and of course, there are still lots of fights left to tou. You cannot just stop here or there unless it is finished! Thus, you have to be strong! Only you can make it happens. You have to make your parents proud of what you're going to achieve. You have to focus on the present that you are here, you are on the process of making your dream come true, and no matter how hard it is to bear, you have to keep holding on. Although each step is about breaking a mountain or going through fire, Do it! Being alone or independent is the best opportunity for you to strengthen yourself and develope your maturity. After a year, you will miss today, and you will be proud of a progress you have made through these messy life experiences. When looking back, you will see the different between the Old and the New You. It is not neccesary to let the world knows that you are working hard or having a hard time because only you yourself truly understand how it is. The world will not care what or how you are doing; it will just judge you base on your result, and You deserve more than being judged. Here I am telling you, if you are already here, if you already decided to walk on this way, please give it a big try! Make the best out of it! Struggle as hard as you can! Hold it tight no matter how big the wave is! It's worth trying!! It does ! One day your hard work will paid off. Be here with who you are, take this opportunity to find the best version of yourself. Do not spend too much time being dramatic about life because you will just waste your life times. Have a nice day !!
For a long time, I've considered eschewing attending a university in my country in favor of studying aboard because I believe pursuing education overseas is a life-changing opportunity that brings students beneficial experiences to widen their horizon and experience a brand-new country with new lifestyle, culture, language and nature. Therefore, I always ask myself: ‘What country is suitable for me to study aboard?' After thinking twice about it, from my heart, I know Japan is the most appropriate country for me to get higher education because of these things: First of all, international students in Japan have chances to receive the benefits of some of the highest educational standards in the world with over 700 universities and many of them are ranked in the top of Asia, even the world such as: The University of Tokyo, Kyoto, Keio, and Nagoya. These universities are some of the best places for me to study, enlarge knowledge and develop my skills, which is the prologue for getting a good job in the future. Furthermore, a wide range of scholarships are available to international students. As far as I'm concerned, all the Japanese government, universities, public and private organizations provide students with a plenty of generous scholarships. Not only is the life quality of students in Japan very good, but tuition fees are also comparatively cheap. Compared to other popular destinations like the USA, Australia, or the UK, Japan is the cheapest place to study abroad. Interestingly, there are a huge number of meaningful outdoor activities at Japanese universities, which lets students be exposed to foreign cultures and gives them chances to release stress after hard lessons. Besides, international students are allowed to work part-time in order to make extra income, which is very suitable for my living conditions due to the fact that I can help my parents reduce the money used for my study in the future. What a wonderful thing! Secondly, in the future, I want to enroll in the faculty of Informatics at a famous university because I've dreamed of being a successful software developer for years. I believe that my dream will come true after I finish my Informatics degree at a Japanese university. It can't be denied that Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and Informatics degrees in Japanese universities are very helpful, informative, valuable and always up-to-date. Students are taught to write code, programs, build and design software effectively and professionally, provided with a huge source of information about computer and many opportunities to put the knowledge gained into practice. After graduation, with those experiences, I'll be able to get a good job in my country, Vietnam. I hope my future software can make a significant contribution to the development of education and society in Vietnam and narrow the gap between my country and the world. Next, I've fallen in love with Japanese culture since I was quite small. People around the world have a deep respect for Japanese because of their politeness, honesty, punctuality, kindness, intelligence, diligence, and patience. When studying in Japan, I'll have chances to learn these great qualities and experience a both well-preserved and modern culture. I'm also extremely impressed by peaceful shrines, torii gates and wonderful colorful traditional ceremonies such as Judo, Karate, Kado, and Chado. Additionally, Japan is the land of amazing anime feature films and television animations. There are lots of films that have been an essential part of my childhood and my daily life such as ‘My neighbor Totoro', ‘Your name', 'One Piece' and ‘Doraemon'. Japanese literature also is very special: often dark but emotional and full of humor. This is the reason why a lot of people enjoying literature have a mysterious love for Japanese novels. So do I. I'm deeply interested in reading wonderful novels of Murakami Haruki and Higashino Keigo such as ‘Norwegian Wood', ‘Naoko' and ‘1Q84'. Through them, I can imagine the life of Japanese – a subtle and enthusiastic life. Finally, I'm looking forward to trying Japanese foods and enjoying Japanese nature. The foods are so unique, refresh, and delicious that a big amount of people are attracted. People having ever tasted Ramen, Sushi, Tempura, Sake, or other Japanese foods never forget the favor of these. Japan's nature is full of incredible beauty and fantastic wonders beyond the imagination. The sense is very lively, exciting picturesque and magnificent. I've a wish to see velvety cherry blossom, lovely snow monkeys and famous fascinating huge volcanoes for myself. How amazing they are! People usually say and write about 'American dream'. But in my heart, besides 'American dream', 'Japanese dream' hold a special place. I've to say: Japan is such a great, wonderful and astounding country that I'll do my best to win a scholarship to study there and enjoy the miraculous things of it.
A year ago, the Philippines faced a devastating terrorist attack in the Islamic City of Marawi, Lanao del Sur. This attack came to be known as the “Marawi Siege”. It went on for months ending in November 2017 when President Duterte announced the city's liberation. Days after the siege begun on May 2017, in a volunteers' group chat of our NGO, we were asked if we're available to join a peace mission in an evacuation center located in Lanao del Sur. The slots were filled immediately and although I fiercely wanted to join the said mission I didn't have the opportunity. Nevertheless, I did what I could to support the team. Yet, even now, as Marawi begins to build its city, there is still a piece of me that wishes to have been part of that peace mission, to have been able to bring joy and support to the children of Marawi while the siege is ongoing. Weeks turned into months and Marawi City was liberated from the terrorist group but it left part of the city, near Lanao lake, completely obliterated. Back in Manila on March 2018, I was asked by my friends if I'm available to join a month-long peace mission in Mindanao; I had mixed feeling about it. I felt like this maybe a blessing since I've already wanted to resign from my job, but, this may also be a test, to see if I am brave enough to resign from my job without another work lined up when I get back from Mindanao. Add in the fact that volunteering is my passion and the feeling that I'm wasting away in the office helped me reached my decision. Turns out, I did have the guts to resign without another job lined up and the trip really was a blessing. The peace mission was a blessing due to a number of reasons. First, I was able to live in Mindanao for a month and immersed in their culture and lifestyle. Second, I was able to see the battle ground or what we like to call “Ground Zero” in Marawi City from afar. “Ground Zero” is still prohibited to civilians because the armed forces is presently in the process of clearing out the areas of undetonated bombs and IEDs. Lastly, I was able to act as a support to the children of Marawi, at least for those in the group I facilitated in. The peace mission we conducted in Mindanao was in the conflict areas of Maguindanao and Marawi City. We taught the children and their parents peace education. In Marawi, I was given the chance to act as lead facilitator for one of the 10 groups. Together with me is a member of the “Hijab Troopers”, they are women soldiers who wears white hijab. Our group was composed of 3 boys and 4 girls, all coming from 4 different schools. Despite being strangers, our group was able to form a bond like that of a family. I was their big sister who helped them with their activities such as writing and drawing. But, there was 1 kid who was extremely shy. He would not answer my questions (that were spoken in Filipino) and at first I thought that he could only understand Maranao so I asked the other kids to translate for him, but he still wouldn't participate in our activities. In that case, I told him that it was alright if he doesn't share his thoughts but if he wants to share then his new friends can translate for him. During the 2nd day, as I was observing all my kids, I felt elated on the fact that everyone is bonding, they maybe strangers yesterday but now, they've accepted each other as friends. I also found out that the shy kid can understand and speak Filipino well but he adamantly refuses to share his answers in the group. Accordingly, after an activity where everyone had to share their drawings, I went to him and asked him to share his drawings to me, he started telling me the reason behind his drawings and I felt like I was going to cry at that moment because finally, I was able to get through his walls even if it was just a little. Indeed, those 3-days were the best but they were also the most exhausting. Handling 7 kids is draining emotionally and physically. It made me really appreciate the kindergarten and elementary school teachers all over the world for their limitless patience and energy in handling hundreds of kids in their career life. On our last day in Marawi City, we visited an area near Lanao Lake where “Ground Zero” can be observed. The only word that came to mind when I saw it was destroyed. The battle ground area was completely and utterly destroyed. The whole area was colored gray by ashes. Mosques that were once magnificent now had huge gaping holes in them and houses that were home to thousands of Maranaos were reduced to piles of rocks. As I watch the scene before me, I felt anger and the thirst to find out the answer to my questions, “why? Why do this? What did it accomplish?” And as our group continues to hear the stories of the Marawi Siege, one person shouted “look, there's a rainbow” and as we all turn to gaze at the breathtaking beauty of the rainbow, I said to myself “how ironic.”