I have high hopes for all my students. I want them all to go very far in life. I am very encouraging and always assure them that they have what it takes to go after their dreams; they just need to apply themselves and work hard starting today, in Class 4. They can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. They have high hopes for themselves... doctors, lawyers, pilots, businessmen and women, soldiers, drug pushers?
To encourage them to work hard, I tell them how important it is to speak and to write English well. If they can’t write well, they won’t be able to go to the university. I often ask how many of them want to go to the university when they grow up, and usually they all raise their hands... except for one.
A boy in class 4A named Priest sat with his arms crossed as the rest of his classmates waved their hands enthusiastically in the air, determined to show their commitment to college.
“Priest! Don’t you want to go to the university?” one of his classmates asked him. He shook his head.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said.
The entire class started laughing. I, however, didn’t find anything funny about that.
“Priest, you are much too smart for that. You will go to the university one day. I’ll make sure of that. You won’t be a drug-pusher. I won’t let you,” I said.
“I was just kidding,” Priest said reluctantly. “I’ll go to the university.”
“You won’t be a drug-pusher. That’s bad. The rest of the class will be doctors and lawyers, living in nice houses, but you’ll be living in jail,” I said. “I won’t let you.”
One of the other students raised his hand.
“Miss Kate, you can go to jail for that?”
“Yes, it’s BAD!” I said, but I noticed a quite a few puzzled looks on the faces of my students that told me either pushing drugs isn’t considered bad or illegal here, or I had made a mistake.
“Wait, Priest, what did you say you want to be?”
“A cart-pusher,” he said. “Have you ever seen someone pushing carts of coconuts on the street?”
I almost burst out laughing right there in class. He had said, “Cart-pusher,” but somehow, I heard “Drug-pusher.”
“Okay, never mind. I thought you said something else. You can’t go to jail for being a cart-pusher... but still, you can do much better than that, Priest! You can go to the university and get a really good job!”
“I know,” he said, concentrating on twirling a pen between his fingers.