24 – Knowledge Is Power

If you have read some of my blogs in the past year, you would know that there’s a few that expresses how school had been, and still is, stressing me out. I’m not one that would skip school because I don’t feel like it, but there are some days where I really wished I didn’t have to go and just sleep through the day. I never realised then how lucky I truly am to even have this opportunity to go to a school that offers high education and have a chance to continue it in post secondary, providing me the skills and qualifications I need to progress in life. School to me had been a burden. Something I had to do in order to have a comfortable life in the future. Now I know that it’s so much more than that. Education offers much more than a stable future, it offers power. Power in which you can use to, as cliche as it sounds, make the world a better place.

Every day in the work site, we would work alongside the children’s classroom. They would learn things any elementary kid would learn, mathematics, English, their language, a bit of science, and history of their country. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about these kids, it would be their enthusiasm for school. During days where they have no school, they would always express to us how much they can’t wait to go back. They wake up as bright and early as we do and get ready with their books and uniform to attend class. There was never a student that was late.

I’ll never forget the day where we had to take a break due to the rainy weather, I sat on the benches outside the classroom waiting for the rain to halt when Kelepi came up to me with a children’s picture book. He opened it to the first page, placed it on my lap and sat right next to me. I assumed he wanted me to read to him and so I did. Luckily, it was an English book so I was able to read it. I would translate the words as much as I could, using my broken Tongan vocabulary and a lot of hand gestures and noises. Soon enough, other kids began to gather around me and some brought more books to the other global kids. As a student, these kids’ passion to learn had inspired me. Though they don’t know what we were saying most of the time, they still continued to communicate with us, slowly learning more and more English as we learned more and more Tongan.

I know many of these kids dream to have a bright future, to reach their aspirations. It had dawned to me that many of these kids will not have the same opportunity to continue education after high school. Some don’t get to at all for they can’t afford to pay tuition fees. It broke our hearts to think that some of these kids will never have the chance to learn more about anything outside the island. They’ll never fully comprehend that there’s a whole world out there waiting for them to be explored and to be recognised. As an IB History HL student, I never felt more privileged to be able to learn about the histories and cultures of so many countries. I always thought it’s such a pain to learn about so many countries in school, but now I realise that this knowledge, the education that I am provided with, shapes the person I am today and the person I will be in the future.  I am being spoon-fed with this five star meal we call education. We have this privilege and to throw it away or to not discern it as something integral in our lives would be foolish. If I want our kids in Tonga to have the education that they deserve so badly, why couldn’t I bring myself to believe that I too deserve the education that I already receive and not take it for granted? Why had I complained about it when it’s truly a stupendous advantage in my life?

Now I know.

‘Alu ā,

Coleen