It was our 2nd year in college when our seniors and their mentor (who was also our ComStud50 instructor) invited us to help them in their educational outreach program, a free tutorial offered to one elementary school in Marawi.
We got so excited that most of our batchmates confirmed.
The chosen school is funded by Arab philanthropists and most of its students came from humble families.
We went there every Sunday.
TRIVIA: In an Islamic city like Marawi, Friday is considered as a day of prayer so classes are not held and the week starts on a Sunday. MSU, which is kilometers away from the city does not follow that; classes are scheduled every day of the week (with Sundays used for NSTP/CWTS classes in some colleges).
Ok, so we went there every Sunday for a one-on-one tutorial session with the school’s “slowest” students.
I was assigned to an 8-year old boy who was still in Grade 1. He was very silent, very timid, very shy. With my basic know-how in the Maranao tongue, I was spared of the need for a translator (just in case he’s not fluent in English or Filipino.)
The boy is getting low grades in English and Filipino because he rarely talks. I found out that he has lost both parents; maybe that’s the reason why he didn’t easily warm up to people (or to me). But he is actually a fast-learner.
We reviewed every basic English terms like the parts of the body or the parts of the house. We have drawn a lot of things from the “skeletal” boy to the cotton candy clouds, the trees, the river, the sun, the moon, the stars. We have reviewed basic math and counted pens and sticks.
And lastly, he participated in the quiz show my fellow volunteers and I held to check if they have really learned a bit from us– and he won.
How could I ever forget that boy who rarely smiled, rarely talked and rarely socialized? How could I ever forget him who have sad eyes but seemingly indomitable spirit?
Today is his birthday.
His name is Mohammad.
My first student.