Priscilla leaves an impression every time I get a chance to talk to her. She is so incredibly thoughtful and so sure of herself that I can hardly believe she is so young. She is also a teacher at the Luigi Giussani Pre-Primary and Primary School, which means I was lucky enough to interview her for my research.
The second of four children, Priscilla is responsible for taking care of her two younger siblings, but she is also busy working towards a university degree and teaching at the primary school, all at the same time. Priscilla graduated from the Luigi Giussani High School in 2016 and will graduate from university in 2019. I asked her how she manages to handle all the different things going on in her life and she said, “It can be very difficult to balance, but everything is given to me, because I am loved”. This is the beauty of Priscilla — she is so sure of her worth, because she has seen how loved she is and so all the complications of life are seen in a new light.
In describing how she came to this understanding of herself, Priscilla said it began with her teachers at the LGHS. In them she realized she needed to depend on others to understand who she was. When Priscilla’s mom passed away, her relationships with her teachers showed her the possibility of beginning a new life. That was also around the time she met the movement of Communion and Liberation, and so realized that through her teachers she was meeting Christ. This is the fact that she most sure of in life; it changes everything for her. The way Priscilla teaches is a reflection of this. She wants her students to have the same experience with her. She wants them to be free to discover life with her. She wants them to know that they too are valuable and loved.
This ability Priscilla has to comprehend the meaning of life so fully flows into her work as an English teacher. She chose to teach, because for her is it a calling and a way to continue to better understand herself. She chose English because “it is where [her] passion lies”. She told me, “I don’t want to teach something that does not correspond to my heart”. In fact, when I began to ask her about English and literature she had so much to say. Her favorite novel is Oliver Twist, but her true love is in poetry and writing poetry to express her life. She promised to share one of her poems, in which she expresses the beauty of life.
Before I closed my interview with Priscilla, I could not help but ask one more time how she could be so happy with so many difficulties past and present in her life. She just smiled and said, “I am happy, because I have met Him. I am loved and I am chosen”. Priscilla has shown me a better way to teach, but even more so, a better way to live.
A recent grad from Boston College, I will be spending the next two months in Uganda seeing my studies of education, psychology and human development in action. I am lucky enough to be volunteering with and learning from the community of educators at the Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education (LGIHE). My days will consist of everything from classroom observation to educational research to exploring the culture of Uganda (and Kenya for a brief visit!). I would love for you to follow along for what I am sure will be a crazy beautiful summer!