Picture of my mom teaching
Picture of my mom teaching

There’s an old chinese saying I once saw at school that lodged itself in the corner of my mind: “If you plan for one year, plant rice, if you plan for ten years, plant trees, but if you plan for one hundred years, teach.” People in my family have been teachers for a long time, but I doubt they had such foresight as the saying would imply. In the last four generations, we have had 9 teachers. I never had and never will have a chance to interview anyone older than my grandma, but as far as I can tell, everyone had their own reasons, normally to help people. My family culture has included a large amount of respect for teachers. It does not seem to be something intentionally done as a tradition, but rather a natural result of being related to a bunch of teachers. My first inclination is to say that only selflessness or wisdom would make someone work long hours in a job with an exceptionally high turnover rate and low pay, but the common thread among the teachers in my family is that each of them remembers a teacher from outside the family from some point in their early childhood. Perhaps my family has simply run up against many good teachers and what appears as a tradition is simply a run of good luck, kind people, and expectations of good teachers allowing people to look more favorably upon their best. Whatever the story, my grandma spent nigh on forty years helping children in the city of Yakima, WA, and she wasn’t alone in my family, and I can’t see that as a coincidence.

Place(s): Washington

– Keegan Watson

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more