I can vividly remember the day I got fascinated with stories. I was 4 or 5 years old when I insisted to sit-in at my siblings kindergarten class. It was the only class in our community funded by a non-profit organization and conducted by volunteers who if my memory serves me right were given allowances to get things by. The class was held right on the second floor of the community chapel and but at present the chapel had soon been gone burned to ashes. The room was filled with donated toys, a Nipa house, and donated books. The teacher, we called her Ma’am Noemi- taught there from our parents down to us and I even heard she is still there trying to keep it going and trying to keep the learning alive. Although truth of the matter is, I am not sure if the battle on education in where I come from is still being fought or if it was already lost a long time ago.
I had been asking myself why my hunger for learning never ceases and lived every day trying to understand why. Today as I smelled the coffee, I realized I have to remember where it started and all I can think is that one teacher who introduced me to Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk. I remembered her looks as she was seated in front on a small chair, while we sat in astonishment on the red cement floor; as she turned those pages giving life to the stories.
I met her again few years back and thanked her for all that she’s done for me and for my siblings and the community but looking back to that day I thanked her, it really did not occur to me how she’s impacted my life until today. I would have wanted to hug her for if I am going to be very honest now, she initially imprinted a deeply-rooted desire in my heart that love for learning from the stories she read. And while life has blessed me with more teachers who’ve done so much to water the seeds, she was the first to sprinkle water on it.
But who planted it? My mother. My mother for her short life on earth planted the very important thing I needed in life, the desire to learn and the importance of education. I am not sure if she’d predicted she’d not live long enough to see us have our own lives and choices but she made her every single decision to be all about our future. Especially when she moved us out of the slums where she grew up and saw the potential harm of a drug infested place she lived all her life; it was clear that she wanted her kids to have a different life. And that was what I remembered. That was what changed me. Every time life feels so down and confusing, I would remember how my mother in her capacity did everything so we’d have a different life. So we’d choose not the easy path but the one that gives us peace. Peace is not always saying Yes or agreeing to what life throws at us for even in the comforts of conformity, chaos lives.
When our mayor opened our public library for 24 hours, I saw the opportunity for my children and so I could introduce them too to the doorways of the different worlds. Provide opportunity for them to interact with other children, choose any book to scan or read, or just stare at the beautiful covers. I also learned that a storytelling organization exists in the very same library. It sparked my interest because maybe I can go back to the place where my mother grew up and maybe just maybe start a weekly storytelling sessions with the children and maybe just maybe initially and unknowingly imprint in those minds a little desire to read and to learn. And meaning for that desire to be passed on not just to my children but also to my neighbor’s children.
I grew up reading everything I see, from the billboards to notices on doors. All the writings on the wall, and the hanging decorations with texts amused me. Yes, I want to know everything about storytelling. It’s where my love for reading sprang from. It may not save the world, or may not save everybody but it may make an impact in someone just like it did to me.