Monday, April 21, 2014

Pencils Of Promise: Dear Adam Braun

The Promise Of A Pencil
Dear Adam Braun,

I just become your greatest fan. And I call myself a fan because you are quite a rock star. I am saying this because for teachers like me, people like you are considered real rock stars. Although I am in a different setting compared to what and where the Pencils Of Promise built schools, I found myself relating to your stories from the time you began to realize that you are going to build your first school.

Your book is an admiring accomplishment of how really an ordinary person, no matter who you are, can make a big difference to the world. Every detail of every mantra in the book shows the profound drive of an ordinary individual that gives us all a definition, a path to understand and to follow in order to make a big change in the place we live in.

As I read through each chapter of your book, from your life altering journey at SAS, your riveting experiences in Guatemala, your visits to different organizations in South East Asia and up to building your very first school for the heart-warming people of Laos, I cannot help myself but stop on some of the parts and examine myself as it struck me. These are not the mantras but rather those phrases you said that made me recall how my life has been until now.

The Promise Of A Pencil
I was never originally a teacher. I took Business in college and worked for 5 years in the corporate office. My dilemma during that time was I have no more interest with what I was doing even though I have a good salary, a wide coverage health insurance, a place of my own and the chance to travel a lot. But I left that job to pursue some other things that will give me meaning to what I want to do, something that makes a difference. And then one day as I was reading a classified ad of a local newspaper, I saw a rectangular ad about becoming a Special Education Teacher. I searched about the school and knew instantly that I have enough money to cover the school fees and told myself that this will definitely change the path that I want to take. And it did.

The Promise Of A Pencil

As I pursued my desire to become a teacher, I was self-dependent in all things. I realize that I had to cut down on many unnecessary things I used to have in order to focus on my studies and finish it without backing down. My parents never really complained about anything that I do as long as I want to do it and I'm on my own. They just respect my decision and I am welcome to them in case I will need some help. After getting my certificate in teaching, I moved overseas to start my teaching career. I was travelling and teaching and it was indeed such a rewarding job to do. To see a child learn from you is the greatest reward a teacher can have.

The Promise Of A Pencil

Working abroad and encountering different races, cultures and people is not an easy thing but I managed to survive 5 years in Singapore. I have moved to another one with high hopes given my experience and newly acquired credentials but it was not an easy transition. Even though I have taught in different levels, I was ignored and turned down many times. I was confident when I left Singapore but it broke me so many times. I kept on trying until I found another one who saw a potential in me. And so it began my next adventure.

The Promise Of A Pencil

I have learned so many things working abroad. It opened me up to more pressing matters that I was never exposed to when I was in the Philippines. I met people who changed me with the way I look at the world. I believe I became different as I gained wisdom from other people whether I know them or not. Reading books also gave me an added learning to what I could and should do. I made so many attempts to volunteer yet I never get any response from different organizations. So many times I intended to join foundations yet I ended up not doing so. And until now, after reading The Promise of a Pencil, I am wishing and hoping that I could help out physically. To be in the field in action and literally doing something, anything in order to help. But I always chicken out as I cannot leave my commitments. People need help NOW but the only best thing I can do now is an online donation. But here is a promise to myself, even though I know people need help NOW, I promise while I hold a pencil pressed against my chest that I will do something, maybe not yet now, but I will do something to help out aside from cash donations.

The Promise Of A Pencil

I wish I was there at that talk in the Semester At Sea when you told this to your audience. And how I wish we have that kind of program in the Philippines where students get the chance to be exposed on what is happening in the world right now. I personally think that students of today, in our side of the world, no matter what level of education, are really more focused on the social media. But they are using it to become more and more self-involved rather than to learn the more important things about life. They do not even know how to identify false media than the truth. When somebody posted awful news that has no factual basis, they resonate to believing that it is true and instantly proliferate it to other people without checking the facts. I hope that people make good use of their education and involve themselves to organization like yours. When I return home, I vow to myself that I will do this. I vow that I can make something like you did or even bring PoP to my country. I may sound hopeless but as you said, never hope for things to work because you knew it would. And I know it will work out for me too even if it takes me a long time.

We all have our stories to tell. And yours was a great story that every human being alive should know. As it is not just a story but it is a life long journey that will serve as an inspiration of hope, faith and vision. A vision to help eradicate ignorance and to prosper a good and proper education to children. As it is the most important, critical part of the beginning of a child's future.

Thank you AB.

Yours truly,
J. Gerald C. Legaspi

You can check the website of Pencils Of Promise if you are interested in making a donation.


The picture quotes above are used only to highlight the quotes written on the book and have no intention or whatsoever to violate any copyrights related to the book.

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