Teacher becomes an example, a father and a leader
Young father finds a new meaning to teaching when he joined NPH
August 26, 2019 - New Zealand
Oscar is a single father of an adorable five-year-old boy, who he dotes on. Although having a National University of El Salvador teaching degree, Oscar found himself unemployed in 2012 and to say times have been tough would be an understatement.
For three years, the 38 year-old from the city of Santa Ana struggled to make ends meet and support his son, doing a range of informal jobs, such as selling fruit and vegetables in the street.
Unemployment is rife in El Salvador, especially amongst the younger generations. Around 6.3% of the 6.45 million population is unemployed, with youth unemployment (between 16/24 years of age) at 13.6%. The government offers little or no income support to job seekers, leaving young people to seek employment through sometimes desperate means.
With this in mind, Oscar felt out of luck, but he never gave up. In 2015 Oscar joined the NPH El Salvador family as a teacher. What he didn’t know when times were tough, was that his previous period of difficulty would serve as a great teaching tool for his students of the future.
Oscar is now the eighth grade teacher at the NPH El Salvador school. His class consists of 16 students, 11 of which are pequeños living at the Casa Sagrada Familia home where the school is based, while the remaining five pupils are community students come from the surrounding towns and villages. During this time, Oscar says his perception of a teacher’s role has transformed. As well as teaching knowledge, he also looks for every opportunity to guide his students and give advice.
“Working at NPH, it feels like you go beyond your role as a teacher. It is more like being a father figure for the students. In my own experience, the concept I had of teaching changed when I got to know the work that is done here. One becomes more than a person in front of a class of students; one shares time and experiences with young people which creates a special connection,” says Oscar.
“I was amazed when I found out the kind of students I had. Some of them shared their life experiences with me and, as a father, it makes me feel very sad that they had to live through such situations. So I try to share my own experiences with them so they are aware that even though there might be difficult moments in life, it is up to us to keep fighting for our dreams and wishes.”
Oscar says that when he first read about Father Wasson’s philosophy, he was able to understand the kind of job he would have to carry out, “Learning about the work of Father Wasson motivated me to do my best in my job, in order to make a difference to my student’s lives. When one gets to learn about the work done at NPH, one realises that it is not just a job; it is a family and one becomes part of it.”
“Every day is a new adventure. I start a day of classes with a prayer and I try to include different activities in my lessons, such has watching videos about the realities in our country, so students learn to appreciate the support they receive at NPH. I explain that the realities of life might be tough; I don’t get tired of giving them advice because I know it will help them in the future.”
“Teaching at NPH has definitely changed my life because I get to do what I like: teach, and I get to do it with students that I consider my own family.”
Education is one of the key values of NPH. Having teachers like Oscar on the team gives the students a strong basis from which to launch their lives, especially as he puts his heart into his job. Thanks to his experience and commitment, it is hoped his students will be able to take positives steps as they launch into their own lives.
Acting Director NPH NZ