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Home is made up of hearts and minds, not planks and nails.

Home. A word every culture, language, and community knows. Home is what gives people a sense of belonging and life. It’s what gives them purpose, something to love and something to take pride in. This is embodied in the souls of everyone. Whether it be by serving your country as a soldier or a mother and father watching their child's football game in support, there is always something that is held dear and close to our hearts. That’s home.

 

The way of supporting and caring for your home is different for everyone. In the case of nearly every country, this can be seen through individuals working in foreign countries. For the Philippines, these are Overseas Filipino Workers or OFW’s. They choose to work abroad for a variety of reasons: Like wanting to explore the world or in order to look for a new beginning. But they realize that in reality, this is a sacrifice. They have to work away from their families and home in order to support them the best they can. This is seen through Preceptor Lady Aileen Orsal.

 

Preceptor Lady Aileen is the first teacher for the Filipino language class in Harvard University, a first class representing the Filipino culture and dialect. Ms. Lady Aileen grew up with her share of hardship in the Philippines. Her father was a carpenter and her mother was a stay at home wife. With 3 siblings, she described that at the time, life was hard to manage. Majority of her education and life would be spent in the public school system in Cavite, working her hardest for herself and her family. She eventually worked her way up to De La Salle University, a prestigious university in the Philippines. With her hard work and determination she found her purpose and home. She wanted to teach, for her family, for her country, for her people. 

 

She would find work in Cavite University, teaching about ‘Filipino Communications, Media, and Journalism’. While she was content with teaching and helping students reach their dreams, she knew she could do more. She would take up the difficult Fullbright course from 2018-2019, and become a Fullbright scholar, on top of her work as a teacher. Her family was ecstatic, being one of the first to study abroad and become a scholar for her family. Everywhere she went, she didn’t forget who she was doing this for. She wanted to make her family proud.

 

As time went on and the world entered the 2020 pandemic, she realized that she wanted more, she wanted to be active. Online teaching wasn’t her style, she wanted to let the class collaborate and let them be active together. She believed that together, anything could be done. 

 

She took this idea and thought long and hard about her career with her family. Even though she had been teaching in the Cavite University for 10 years now, she needed a new opportunity. Her father joked with her “Imagine you teach at Harvard, now that’s a turn around!”. They joked because it seemed so impossible that a prestigious university such as Harvard would take a Filipino from Cavite University. Well, when the Filipino class was created in early 2023, she said ‘Why not?’ and applied. With her online application she described her 10 year teaching experience utilizing the Filipino language and her being a Fullbright scholar. However, that wasn’t the only thing they were looking for. Because of her joyful demeanor and teaching style, she was the one out of hundreds to be chosen. A teacher from Cavite University, not Ateneo, not the University of the Philippines, and not a teacher from the other prestigious universities of the Philippines. Her family was jumping with joy, realizing that the impossible wasn’t so far, that the mountain wasn’t that high. She had so much energy and a positive demeanor that she brought with her to teach with charisma and joy.

 

Teaching at Harvard University gave her a realization that this was now bigger than her family. That she was now teaching the Philippine culture and language to the world, putting the Philippines on the world map. Even with this immense pressure weighing down on her, she never forgot her purpose. She wanted to teach the world, to support her family. To take care of her home. Being one of the only Filipino teachers, she held her head high, bringing her best and her joyful demeanor with her. 

 

Now she is getting used to Boston, even though she misses her family. She realized that even though she is away from them, she is doing this for them. For her mother, her father, the Philippines, her home.

Home is made

BY Lucas St. Ana

 

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