As an Economics student, teaching kids basic English or Math wasn’t exactly her field, but Economics sophomore Melissa Flores decided to do the extraordinary with her time as an indentured student-teacher: She made it count.
Perfectly embodying the Atenean dogma of MAGIS, Melissa went the extra mile by showing great feats of dedication (talking and tutoring every single student in her class of twenty-five), empathy (coaxing her shy students out of their shells and forming an emotional bridge between teacher and student), and professionalism (not going to class hungover, resisting the urge to flirt/MOMOL in front of the students), all of which, she says, are qualities that are sadly lacking in today’s student-teacher NSTP “volunteers.”
Melissa was assigned to NSTP Group 1188, which was stationed in Tata Long Elementary as a Student-teacher. Her “volunteer” group of five was assigned to tutor an advanced learning class of Grade 4 students, most of whom where under the Conditional Cash Transfer program which meant that the government forwarded their families money so long as they held up their obligation of investing the money for their child’s future, and that they kept a steady job.
Most of the children in her class were considered to be especially at-risk, not because their families were drug-addicted, ghetto-living ne’er-do-wells as the middle-class’s perpetuated narrative goes, but because of financial strains caused by an unequal distribution of capital, uncontrolled rising of basic necessities, and government inaction to address these problems.
In the speech that she delivered in front of a crowd of ten, she accepted the prestigious Outstanding NSTP “Volunteer” certificate (an honor only given out to one student from each block by the Associate Dean for Labor and Service** bi-annually) in honor of her students, who she regularly keeps in contact with on her personal Facebook account. She says that the “volunteer” experience has changed her life for the better, seeing how it pushed her to get beyond her comfort zones and realize the humanistic side of social and economic policies.
Rushed into summing up her reactions and insights by her peers during the group reflection session, she mentions that honestly, she never considered how big an impact government programs like the Conditional Cash Transfer can have on the financially insecure, or how her past self’s conservative views impacted real people she had never really put a face to until now.
“Demolishing the homes of squatt–sorry, informal settlers, and relocating them halfway across the Metro or even Luzon is not only irresponsible, but short-sighted. Instead of working to improve people’s lives by working on housing, education, or employment opportunities, we ship them off to other cities or regions to be other people’s problems. We uproot them from their lives here, which bad as they are, still present better opportunities for their families as a whole than anywhere else.” She says to her co-“volunteers.”
“I have never before considered the humanity of other people until now, they have reasons for what they do and who they are,” she abruptly -but passionately -finishes after she is politely asked to pass the “Sharing Stick” to the next person as another class has reserved the room and we haven’t even gotten to the Venn Diagram exercise yet, Melissa. Jeez.
Melissa Flores vows to remember the lessons she learned in NSTP and to let them guide her career decisions. Her classmates and facilitator expects her idealism to last one year at most.
*Due to legal concerns, students going through the NSTP cannot be legally classified as volunteers. Technically, they’re more indentured workers or conscripts if you’re being nice, but you can place quotation marks around the word “volunteer” if you want. It’s all very legal.
**NSTP used to be under OSCI back when it was the Office of School something and something, but after it was reassigned to rooting out heretics, fifth columnists, and Conyos, NSTP is now under the jurisdiction of the ADLAS. ADLAS also handles ROTC conscription, Scholar work distribution, and supplying the Jesuits with regular blood sacrifices.