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Post Graduate Diploma in Education

26th July, 2015

My Autobiography
All about ANA

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Table of Contents


































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hough my life is undermined with
serious disease beyond my control,

I consider myself to be a person who
continually strives for advancement. For
me, achieving my goals has been a long
hard road, but it’s made better when I have
opportunities that bring me closer to them.
When it comes to my disease, I may “look
well” outwardly but that’s not always the
true case, as it’s a regular challenge to stay
healthy. Many people find it impossible to
believe that I have Sickle Cell disease

“Maybe, things happen for a reason and

because Sickle cell is mostly internal:

therein lies the answer to life’s unruly

There are not many outward, visible signs.

lessons that happen in succession…

Then too, many people expect that as a

which makes me strong…” Flaw: Only

“sickler”, I’m supposed to be thin, pale,

the strong survive
weak, and in a constant state of illness. But
illness shouldn’t be the defining thing for anyone’s life. It should be used as the catalyst for making my
own and others’ lives more comfortable as well as for fostering understanding. You will see that my
life is not always easy. For more information, just click on and find out
exactly what I’m talking about.
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When I was diagnosed, I knew my life was going to be different. I was constantly told what I could and
couldn’t do. I was even told that I would be dead by age 21. But that didn’t stop me. I still had a
childhood, playing “Mas”, going on hikes, going to the beach and all the usual childhood stuff. During
my regular visits to the hospital I sometimes wondered if I would survive the intravenous drips, the
pain, the transfusions, the pills, the loneliness due to long hospital stays and frustration that the disease
brings... But I was able to pull through, by the grace of God and with the help of close family and
friends. Having Sickle Cell causes you to learn a lot about life. It gave me the opportunity to educate
others about what I was going through. I’d be constantly answering questions like “why are your eyes
so yellow” or “why are you always so sick”. Educating others about Sickle Cell disease made me
realize what I was best at: Explaining, sharing, giving, and exchanging information about everything
that I have learned about the disease and about my response to it.
These were the qualities, which I brought into my world of work, and ultimately, they have served me
best throughout my teaching career. In my teaching, I usually try to make my classes more interactive
by personalizing them, hence making my classes an “extended rapport” of whatever the subject was for
the day. I found that I was able to get closer to my students, reaching them like no one else could. The
perspective was that we’re not in a classroom; we are in a forum exchanging free ideas and learning
from one another. I love what I do. Welcome to my autobiography. Please enjoy it and all that it has to
offer about my vocation and myself.

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TEACHER: (Cited from Brainy quotes)
I aim to be a teacher who can transcend the boundaries of culture and language. I always say that it’s
better to know something about many things, than everything about one particular thing. During my
experience, I was able to learn from my students and vice versa. To me, this is the essence of teaching:
the free flow of ideas, which build upon each other, thereby causing an extension of what was
previously known. I was accustomed doing this. Although it took me a while to figure out, I eventually
realized that I’m a teacher, pure and simple. Furthermore, I come from a family of teachers. On both
my maternal and paternal side, teaching has always been the preferred occupation. When I heard
students talking about the impact that my Aunts and Uncles had on their lives, I realized that I would
like to be a teacher like they were; capable of influencing my students and also, able to make my
classes enjoyable and interesting to everyone.

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Teaching has been my life for the past 18 years. I’m trying to grow in this field and expand my
knowledge, not just of the education field itself but also of the many aspects that come with education,
such as technology, administration and curriculum development. I also love learning. I’ve always said
that to be a good teacher, it’s necessary to open your mind to all that is new, and keep embracing new
methods, ideas; everything necessary to make one’s classes better, more enjoyable, more creative and
learner friendly.


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“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey
Education has always been an important part of my life since childhood. My mother always ensured
that I had all my texts and many of my presents were books, both modern and classics. She ensured
that I read continually, and she always stressed the importance of independence through educational
achievement. This ideal was one which was passed down through my family. My grandfather ensured
all elven of his children got their books on time and he frequently questioned them on their tables and
what they had read. This is the tradition under which I was raised and I am proud of it.
The earliest part of my education began at Newtown Girls’ Roman Catholic primary school. My
Primary alma mater gave me the moral and educational values needed to make my career choice, as
I’ve always admired my teachers. It was also at my time there I did public speaking and my love for

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writing began to flourish. I guess it was my nurturing ground for everything. I also met “Aunty
Hazel” (Ward) and she always admired how mannerly “Newtown Girls” were. I felt the need to live up
to that expectation.


Growing up was not easy. Academics were everything, and a lot was expected from me, in terms of A’s,
Ones and excellent results. I passed for Tranquility Government secondary school. Shocked? Yes. I
was. But my mom wanted me to have a better chance at life and education as “Tranquil” had a very bad
reputation in those days, so I was transferred to St. Francois Girls’ Secondary school. The five years at
St. Francois were a challenge yet they were memorable. There, I joined the choir and my writing
talents continued to grow. Alas, due to exam pressures and illness I was unable to write much and I
didn’t do as well as expected in my CXC exams at the end of year 5 so, I went to Woodbrook
Government Secondary School to repeat. I was quite successful there. I even learned how to chill out
with boys for the first time in so many years. Woodbrook was such a wonderful turning point! I
enjoyed my schooling there very much. I also enjoyed the influence of my teachers there, who taught
me much more than the classroom subjects. I constantly spoke to them about life, health and general
wellbeing. I remember the food and nutrition teacher. She was like a wonderful mother, giving me
advice and boosting my self-esteem. When I got my O’Level results, she took a few of us to KFC
Maraval, which was the “fanciest” one around, especially as it had just opened. She taught me how to
celebrate myself and celebrate my accomplishments.
I continued my education at Sixth Form Government secondary school, also known as ‘Polytechnic’.

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I would say that it was at “Poly” that my whole journey into Self really began.

I met three wonderful teachers whose influence remain with me up to this day, one of course being my
Literature teacher. I was taught more about self-reliance, self-esteem, self-awareness and growing in
my mind as a person. Poly awakened me to my growth academically and personally… I joined the
debating team, had a lot of fun… I also learnt the lesson of ill preparedness since I was unable to
sustain my side of the debate. It was embarrassing, but I learnt well. I also had my first heartbreak and
learnt about the importance of trusting your instincts. Another life lesson thanks to Poly. Poly was also
the first place I got to travel on my own. I did an exchange to Venezuela and I was able to connect with
my Venezuelan family for the first time in many years, thanks to that visit. Poly has always been home
for me, and little did I know I would get to return in the future…

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Ahhh… UWI… The University of the West Indies St.
Augustine Campus. The place where my adventures
continued. I had a host of fantastic lecturers who brought out
my love of Literature and debating even further. I was blessed
to be there at a time with such influential people as the late
Dr. Patricia Ismond, Dr. Gordon Rohlehr, Mr. Kenneth
Ramchand, Dr. Roydon Salick and Dr. Paula Morgan. I
couldn’t believe it when I won a first year prize for placing
first in Poetry Final exams. I was pleasantly surprised when I
found out I was nominated for the prize. But please don’t
think I was serious all the time! No, No, No!

Like almost

every UWI-an, I learned how to play “All Fours”. I rocked
out with “3 Imaginary Fellows”, (the Rock Dj’s who are still
popular today) when “Alternative Wednesday Nights” began
and rock music dominated the scene. So I partied with
Jaundis- I (now Orange Sky) and Oddfellows Local (now Jointpop) and a host of other local rock
bands. I was Secretary of the Portuguese club and got to interview the Brazilian Ambassador for the
club’s newsletter. Even as secretary of the Literary Society, I organized a session called “Alternative
Readings” whereby the poems of Brian Patten, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and other rockers/poets
were featured, together with 60’s music. In spite of all of that, crazy fun, I was able to successfully
graduate in 1996 with Upper Second class honours.

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I worked in the public service part time to put myself through UWI. I remember my first working
experience at the Ministry of Finance, Treasury Division in the summer of 1994. I was very lucky to
get Mrs. Gloria Henry as my boss. She was more like my “work-mom” than a boss. Kind, wonderful,
caring, a good mentor and protective of the “male vultures” who tried to pick me up (giggle).
In subsequent years I also worked at The Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Legal
Affairs. Observing the inner workings of Government departments made me realize just how hard the
work was as well as how necessary it was to focus and know the job… it also made me realize how
tedious and boring it can be at times, especially when the job is unchallenging and unrewarding.
However, I was lucky to meet some very interesting people who gave me varying perspectives on life.
When I graduated from UWI, I was encouraged to become a lawyer (at that time I was working at the
Attorney General’s office) and the people who encouraged and mentored me the most were the late
Dana Seetahal SC, as well as current Justices Mira Armourer and Nolan Bereaux. They, together with
my family, also suggested that I study either International Relations with Law or teach, save the money
then return to study. Teaching was readily available and I decided to “try” it. Little did I know I would
eventually find my calling and fall in love with this vocation. The Ministry of Education interviewed
me and I was successful. In August 1997, I was interviewed for a position at St. Mary’s College. I was
told that the teacher decided to retain their post; hence I was sent to St. Anthony’s college. On 2nd
September 1997, I assumed duties at St. Anthony’s, which is where I’ve remained until 28th January,

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It was quite a baptism of fire. I went to teach for the first time at an all-male high school. Not only did
the boys NOT take me seriously, but also my authority and knowledge were constantly challenged. I
had to find ways of reaching them. After settling in and enhancing my methods of lesson delivery, I
became so bored with the “normal curriculum” that I formed many club activities to enhance school

life and keep the boys interested in world affairs and Literature. The most popular were the Chess/
Checkers club, the UNESCO, Debating/ Public Speaking, Essayists and the MUNA (Model United
Nations Assembly). This club led to my meeting fellow alumnus, who inspired me to use other
different teaching and study methods in my class. Furthermore, because of UNESCO, I visited Norway,
London and Barbados. Ultimately, I got to go on exchange to Tokyo for 2 years… See what I mean?
Who would’ve thought?

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St. Anthony’s college hadn’t entered a debating competition in many years, and my ex head of the
English department found that it was more than time to get the boys involved in something other than
football. A notice was received for the first ever Debating Competition for the EMA- Environmental
Management Authority. The topics ranged from the dangers of emitted gases, to ways of keeping the
environment clean. I was asked to select 2 students to represent the school. When the 2 students were
chosen (C. Fahey and M. Austin), many others asked to come along, as they never had that experience.
So, can you imagine the fleet of 17and 18 year olds driving their cars in excitement to the University
hall? It was touching to hear the cheers of support, having lunch together, just being in a different
environment, and yet supporting each other. Although we didn’t place in the finalists, the point was to
show that we, as a school, could explore our talents in so many ways and enjoy ourselves doing it.
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In order to research the EMA’s debate, some students and I decided to visit the Asa Wright Nature
Centre This was in order to research the effects of Ecotourism. The students and I learned so much
about the varieties of birds in our country, as well as the dangers that are placed on the center due to
illegal quarrying. As soon as we found out what dangers the center faced, we decided to write a letter to
our local newspapers, in the hope that the problem would be highlighted.


The MUNA- Model United Nations Assembly for secondary school students was first introduced in
1999 to help students become aware of the role of the UN General Assembly. It was also meant for
students to understand international relations and the way in which the international community solves
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problems and promotes international understanding. Furthermore, it was also done to help students
hone their debating skills as well as become aware of Parliamentary Procedures. The first time it was
promoted, I knew that my students should do it. We were chosen to represent Cuba and Nigeria. One
student, in particular, was able to debate quite skillfully when it came to questioning the “USA” about
their policies toward poorer nations. It was such fun to watch their performance.


One of my mentors/ ex teachers and I met, and she told me about the new projects she was helping to
design for schoolchildren. She was now a coordinator for UNESCO Clubs/ ASPNet. (Associated
School Projects Network). She first advised me that UNESCO had decided to have a debate regarding
“The Promotion of a culture of Peace”. After that debate in 2000, I decided to take a few students and
attend meetings regarding the formation of the UNESCO club and what was required. I noticed that the
club activities were geared in way that students were able to not only learn about environmental
responsibility but also about other cultures as well as social responsibility. When the club was officially
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formed in St. Anthony’s College, it was greeted with a degree of skepticism, with minimal
participation… until the success of the 2002 exchange program.

Every 2 years, UNESCO
club schools as well as
the ASPNet (Associated
Schools Project
Network) schools do an
exchange to Norway, as
it is believed that by
“twinning” schools with
the European, Asian,
American or African
counterparts would result
in greater cultural
exchange. This was our first experience with the exchange. There was a lot of preparation involved,
such as raising funds, finding replacements for me while I was away and I also had to ensure that all
the work was planned before we left. Three of my best students, T. Hector, K. Hovell and K. Yarna
were lucky enough to secure funds needed to do the exchange. The itinerary included a trip to
Barbados to visit with our Twin school there, which was Combemere High School, followed by a short
tour of London, and finally, to Norway. We were going to spend 3 weeks at the “Saltdal Videregående
Skole” in Rognan, which is North of Oslo. We went during October, so it was our first winter
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experience. Other experiences included skiing, the Viking ships museum visit, and other cultural items,
such as a visit to the Svarstien Glacier near Lofoten. Our mission was to promote a culture of peace and
understanding. We were also able to listen to students from Sierra Leone who suffered mutilations due
to the genocidal wars, and we had the privilege of raising funds to help them. It was a time we would
never forget.

In spite of UNESCO, I still ensured that other clubs were effectively managed. There was always a
Chess club, but the thing I did was to hold a “membership drive” and inter-class competitions to boost

interest in the sport. Also, I wanted to introduce other clubs where students could explore their varying
talents. Hence, I established the essayists and artists, and I ensured that they were entered for many

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competitions as possible. In 2004, we won first prize in the American Chamber of Commerce’s
Environmental statement art competition.

Although there is a “Yearbook company” which assists schools in establishing and publishing their
graduation yearbooks, one thing that the editors usually prefer is that students have a majority input
into what is mentioned.

Many of the students came up with the concept of the yearbooks, and they donated stories, pictures and
other experiences to make them what they were. This venture then, was an effort to reflect school life
as closely as possible.

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“There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we
seek them with our eyes open…” Jawaharlal Nehru

While researching the MUNA for 2003, I decided to include
the UNESCO club as “researching teams”, in order to assist
the debaters. I was able to secure a visit to the Japanese
Embassy, whereby we were able to interview the cultural
attaché, as well as participate in a presentation of Japanese
Culture. While I was doing this, my friend who worked at
the Embassy at that time suggested that I apply for either the
JET (Japan English Teaching exchange) or the
MONBUSHO (The Study and research program in Japan.) I
decided to make an application for the MONBUSHO, as I had every intention of starting my Masters. I
was definitely shocked when I was awarded the
scholarship for acceptance in April 2004. It was a
year of change and also a year to make the painful
decision to leave all that I knew, family and friends
and my kids to begin my studies abroad. Japan was a
cultural experience I would never forget. I was able
to study basic Japanese language, as well as teach at
a Primary school, becoming the person to write a
new curriculum for English Language teaching at the Akishimashiritsu Tsutsujigakokaminami
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Shougakko. (Akishima primary school),

where I taught grades 3-6 at Primary school level, constructed

my own curriculum for English language teaching, inclusive of exercises, games, exams and other fun
assessments. I also sourced, made and purchased materials for my classes. I even attended my first
international teachers’ conference at Osaka, and I rode the bullet train! These adventures made me
realize how important it is for me to keep up with the latest trends in teaching as well as the latest
publications for teaching. The pilot project was an enormous success. Sadly, my trip came to an early
end, as I became very ill with multiple Sickle Cell Crises, which the doctors didn’t know how to treat. I
became like a case study. I had no choice but to return. But the experience will always be treasured.

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“If I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive, will I choose water over wine… and hold the
wheel and drive…” Incubus: Drive
On my return to Trinidad, I returned to St. Anthony’s college. Though I had already instituted the above
programmes, I knew that I had already done enough to establish a legacy there. I knew I needed a
change. I needed to continue my personal and professional development. I had already taught abroad, I
also taught in UWI in 2001, when I did the Diploma in TESOL. I taught a group of Colombians and
students from Martinique and Germany. I was also under the guidance of Dr. V. Youssef and Dr. J.
Ferreira. Teaching adults was no less challenging, as I still had to carefully plan fun classes that would
appeal to them intellectually. I knew I wanted more and I wanted to teach adult learners, while
improving my skills in the secondary school system. I decided to study my Masters in Education under
Framingham State University of Massachusetts. When I was finished, I saw that COSTAATT
advertised for teachers in August 2008. Under the influence of my cousin and fellow teacher Corinne
Baldwin, I applied. Mrs. Permilla Farrell interviewed me and observed me in action. She said to me
that I knew “the art of teaching”. As much as I was proud to hear this, I couldn’t help but know that I
still had much to learn where teaching adults and honing my skills were concerned. I therefore saw this
as an opportunity to continue growing professionally and personally, “graduating” and coming into my

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“The prospect of going home is very appealing” David Ginola
In September 2008, I realized I was teaching alongside my Literature teacher from Poly, Mr. Dial. He
was one of my greatest influences and I was happy that I made him proud, now I had reached this level.
One night in October, he called me. The Literature teacher from Polytechnic was retiring and he was
asked to replace her. He refused the offer, which he subsequently passed on to me. Eager to go back to
a place I knew and loved, I presented myself to ex Principal Mrs. Marcelle Mapp, and begged to be
considered. She agreed, and I immediately requested a transfer, which was granted by the Ministry.

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On 28th January, 2009, two days before my 35th birthday, I went home to Polytechnic. I was elated, but
I knew I had to step up my game since I was teaching advanced level Literature and Communication
Studies, and I had to revise everything and change my teaching strategies. In order to teach well, I had
to re learn and refamiliarise myself with advanced teaching strategies. After all, I wanted my students
to have the same wonderful experiences I had when I was at Poly. I was also happy to have complete
control and autonomy in my class re choice of texts. Furthermore, I loved the family-like atmosphere
with my fellow co-workers, whom I invited to sit in whenever I taught, so as to bring in their input with
my classes. I was also willing to implement, with Mrs. Mapp’s permission, new programmes as I had
done in St. Anthony’s. I knew I needed to build a legacy here as well. Among my many adventures,
here’s what I did/ am doing:

Help to produce a scholarship winner in 2010

Produced our first play with my Literature class for our school’s open day in 2010.

Established, (and in some cases, re-established) the Drama, Photography, Film, Anime, Poets
and Writers, Mythology and Philosophy and Debating clubs.

Collaborated with fellow sociology teachers in school as well as social activist Mrs. Christelyn
Karazin in California, USA via Skype for SFGS to be the pilot school for the “No Wedding, No
Womb” abstinence and family life project.

Worked with Mrs. Yee Mon, the Chemistry teacher to revitalize the UNESCO club.

Entered students into Drama, Monologue and Photography competitions, for which we received
many medals and trophies.

Helped to create the first Yearbook to celebrate the school’s 50th Anniversary.
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Have my first experience marking CAPE Literatures in English.

Also, it was here at Poly that I received my first ever teacher’s award in 2014! To be chosen by my
peers and administration and validated, truly demonstrated the level of appreciation felt in the five
years I’ve been at home in Poly, doing my best for a place that made me who I am. I am happy that I
am able to make such a positive contribution to the place that helped with my personal and professional
development. I know that there is so much more in store for me…

“We need not be afraid of the future, for the future will be in our own hands” Thomas Dewey
I expect that as life changes, and as many more offers come my way, I’ll be able to have more
wonderful experiences. I am the type of person who always searches for more opportunities, not only
for my students, but for myself as well. Unless incapacitated by illness, I am determined to see that my
students have all the wonderful experiences that our Educational system, has to offer. The world is
becoming smaller and more accessible. I truly believe that there are many opportunities available to
students… if only to discover them and I am and ought to be a prime example, leading the way for my
students to follow. Two years ago, I began officially participating in educational and fund raising
activities for the local Society for Inherited and Severe blood disorders. I am also serving on our
school’s Local School Board and I am an avid lector at mass. Now, I’m continuing my studies with the
Dip Ed. I believe that having different experiences as well as volunteering for many activities would
help develop myself as a person as well as help me to socialize with and help others. What better way
than to have a positive effect on the world around me and improve my little corner, to the best of my

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“Harness the power of today. Seize the blessings of today! Make something happen, enhance your life…”
Steve Maraboli

Well, the thing I love most is CHANGE. No matter how hard I try to plan things, the spontaneity of
life itself causes me to change. Like almost every woman, there’s still the dream to have a family, good
job, the usual… But I’ve always opted for a “life less ordinary”, and I guess that’s exactly what I got.
Besides having a disease, which I can educate others about, I happen to be the offspring of parents
from two different cultures: my mother, being Trinidadian and my late father, who was Venezuelan. I
was born in Venezuela, and I’ve had the privilege of being exposed to two different cultures at an early
age. In that way, I knew I was able to truly appreciate different cultures and what they had to offer. I
was also able to learn from them. I appreciate what life had to offer me. In reflection, life in itself is in
such a state of flux that even I was surprised by the amount of things I’ve been able to accomplish. It’s
like life’s guiding me through a series of seemingly unrelated events, which eventually help me learn
essential lessons about people and myself. I also was able to be a mentor firstly to my two younger
siblings, whom, I am delighted to say, have come into their own as wonderful, well-adjusted adults
with a good life. I have made them and my mother and my family proud.

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“Tomorrow can be as challenging and adventurous as any time man has ever lived” Gene
Well, the world is what it is. I just hope to contribute to it as best as I can by doing what I do best. What
else is better than influencing a future generation? The constantly changing world holds so many
endless possibilities such as better treatment for Sickle Cell, which can prevent early deaths. Also, as
teaching methods improve, I hope there’s a growth of inter-cultural and inter-lingual understanding. I
hope to be able to learn more about the art of teaching as well as learn more about technological
devices to enhance my methods. Gene Roddenberry, when he created “Star Trek” (one of my favourite
series) envisioned a world of understanding and peace. I hope to achieve his vision through teaching
and learning.

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Whatever lies ahead, I look forward to it. I know that this life has much to offer, and it’s just for me to
put myself in place to receive all the wonderful things the Universe has in store for me. Leaving family
and friends was a risk I took as one takes a road, which may change one’s life. I know that I’ll have to
take great risks and do what I need to continue to gain those experiences. What Japan had taught me is
that risks may come with both benefits and losses. I, together with my students benefited greatly in
terms of Cultural exchange and language learning as well as travel. However, on the negative side,
when I went to Tokyo, what was so sad was that I had to suffer greatly during my illness, several of the
residual effects I had to deal with upon my return to Trinidad, one of which was surgery to prevent the
near loss of sight in my right eye. Also, all that I had started in St. Anthony’s came to a screeching halt,
as no one was there to ensure that the legacy was continued. Kids graduated, and interested teachers
had transferred. However, I know I built a legacy that would stay in the hearts of my students and peers
who had those experiences with me. Also, I know that here at Poly, my legacy continues and I can
ensure that my students gain the best of me and the best that life has to offer. Life has its challenges. I
still have serious health issues, some of which forced me to take a month’s sick leave for recovery after
major surgery. I also have other personal challenges to bear. But I know that with God’s grace and with
those in my corner, I will accomplish my dreams and be the best that I can be.

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