The Power of Education

“I think she expected me to come home and you know, be a doctor and open up a clinic somewhere. She didn’t expect me to come back and challenge her religion.”

Edited by Nick Ladeau.

Transcript for The Power of Education

My mom was very adamant that we had to finish our education. And so I think she is a very, very important figure when it comes to my perception of education. So she has always pushed us, she would always make sure that we gave her our report cards, she was looking at it, she would always… she would always make sure that we were doing our homework, make sure that we were in the house at a certain time, that we were doing our homework, that we weren’t getting bad grades, or what have you. My dad was more indifferent to it. I don’t think that’s because he doesn’t love education, I think it’s because he was up to fifth grade, he had to leave, he doesn’t understand the power of it. My mom did. Her brothers are doctors in some ways. So she understood what education can lead to. I don’t want to, you know, get a job after college. So I don’t think she understands what I really want to do with education, I think she has a very different understanding of it. But she actually pushed me and my brothers to go to college, to make sure that we were in school. 

She always had this dream that we would all become doctors or engineers, because she takes pride in that. She said, go take biology to become a doctor, what have you, to my younger brother who’s about to enter college soon. So and I keep thinking, Well, wait a minute, part of biology is learning about evolution, Mom. Do you understand that religion is against that? And I keep asking myself that. And she doesn’t look at that. She believes, you know, that college is a path to getting a job. Even I actually thought that was the case until I started to learn that education was its own thing, you know, it wasn’t some… it wasn’t a conduit to an employment, you know, you could actually be an educator, you could actually learn about what education, actually what it can do. You could be an intellectual, for instance, you could be a writer, and these, I think, the only thing is… these things… these what is a writer, really? What is an intellectual? You know, what do they do? These kinds of jobs don’t really… this conception don’t really exist, you know, a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a professor… These things, you know, they have an established place, these make sense. But a writer, what is that? You know, it’s that kind of thing, and I think my mom struggled with coming to terms with the fact that I was not going to be a doctor, I just couldn’t do it. 

I think one of the things she did to deal with that was she would just sometimes say, Well yeah, it’s because you’re stupid. That’s why you can’t do it. But you know, I stood my ground. I said, “No, you know, I’m gonna… writing is what I want to do. Literature’s where I want to… what I want to study, and I’m going to stick with that. Yeah, I think she expected me to come home and you know, be a doctor and open up a clinic somewhere… what have you. She didn’t expect me to come back and challenge her religion. And there was a huge shock for her that that was the case. And, I think… and she threatened to throw away the books that I had brought that I read, you know, she threatened to kick us out of the house. It got really ugly. 

But you know, it’s a huge shock. For me as well, at the time that my parents could react in this way because they were acting very childish ways and I was thinking, Are these really my parents, are they really saying these things? Over time she realized that, again, it comes down to this close, this very loving relationship that we have in our family. And she couldn’t bear just throwing… kicking her son’s out of the house. She’s decided, You know what? I understand you guys have this knowledge. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s stupid. But don’t bring it up. When you’re… when we’re with each other. Just you know, just don’t do it. Don’t say it in front of me, I think that was the word she used, don’t say it in front of me. Don’t speak about God in front of me. That’s it. And so, I mean, we haven’t really adhered to that. But my brothers and I still bring up that subject. My younger brother who’s a sophomore now in college, he’s a very adamant atheist, and he always likes to just get up and argue with my dad about that, and I always have to calm him down. But, yeah, we realized, you know, that we had… there are certain things that we shouldn’t just talk about for moral reasons.

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