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As I was growing up, people always told me I was great with kids.
Some even commented on my auras and positive energy that make
children naturally gravitate towards me. My grandparents reassured
me that becoming a teacher was a great profession as I would have
the summers off. Being in possession of copious amounts of money
had never aligned with my values, so that wasnt a worry. However,
despite the positive support from the people who were close to me, I
felt that following a career path that seemed to fit because of
somewhat superficial traits wasnt enough to give me motivation to
actually become a teacher. Being a great teacher is not an easy job.
This is something I learned when engaging in conversation with those
whom I consider to be great teachers. I had suspected that the
pathway to this career choice would be even more difficult. So why do I
really want to be a teacher? The answer to this question is enveloped
in my significant learning moment. This moment is not one that is ideal
for storytelling such as Archimedes eureka moment in the bathtub or
the baking mishap that lead into the wonderful discovery of chocolate
chip cookies. The moment that I experienced occurred over the period
of approximately a year and guided me on a pathway to a commitment
of lifelong learning for my days to come.

I have been an advocate for positive social change since my high

school years. Experiences such as witnessing colleagues come to
school without a lunch because of financial struggles, being called a
terrorist by a classmate and realizing that there were special needs
students in the school segregated from everyone else, made me
question why things in the world existed the way they did. I felt
glimpses of injustice as though the seams of my perfectly sewn
cushion of life were starting to be torn. I started to participate in
cultural competence and healthy lifestyle initiatives, yet I always took
the role of a follower as that was how I was categorized in the
classroom. I distinctly remember taking a test in a grade 10 classroom
which determined if you were a leader or a follower, similar to those
which determine your ideal career choice or learning style.
Categorizing was the technique used to recognize who each student
was as a learner. I felt trapped and enclosed in a small cage. This is
where I belonged and this is where I would remain. It wasnt until my
third year of university when I realized that I could choose what I
wanted to be, what I wanted to learn and how my identity as an adult
learner would be formed. I discovered my leadership capabilities after
being thrown into a position that depended on me to step up and rise
to the challenge. I became involved in a volunteer pilot-project seeking
to implement a childrens gardening program in Calgary. It soon
became apparent that between the three volunteers recruited, I clearly

had the most time on my hands as one was a single mothers enrolled
in 2 summer classes and the other had made travel plans to explore
Asia for a large part of the summer. I knew that the fate of the project
lay in my hands and ultimately my power so I did what I had to in order
to make it a success. When reflecting on the process later, I realized
that I had become a leader without even noticing. I had to become a
leader in order to follow through with a project that I held and still hold
close to my heart.
After realizing my capability to be a leader, I knew that I had the
power to make positive social change but I questioned where to start.
Every time I heard about injustice; poverty in the villages of Africa,
food wastage in the United States, lack of education in parts of India, I
questioned where I should be. As one human being, I couldnt possibly
help everyone, change everything and fight the injustice of the world
in a battle of my own. Should I travel abroad partaking in volunteer
expeditions or should I be focused on my own community; the
marginalized people of Calgary or perhaps tackle the invisibility of
mental illness present all around us? These ideas puzzled me then and
continue to puzzle me to this very day. I dont think Ill ever be 100%
sure or completely ready to take any next step in my life. I just need to
find my passions and let those guide me in the right direction. This
developed into the realization that I didnt have to fight the worlds
problems alone, enabling me to exist in peace while I determinedly

made plans for the future. However, gaining an adult following to start
a movement didnt seem like a viable option for me. So I broadened
my perception of a following. I already found so much joy in conversing
with children and youth and I feel that I learn so much from them;
often engaging in eye-opening experiences as a result. Could I create a
youth movement in the role of a teacher?
I became obsessed with volunteerism and community
engagement; trying to get involved with a plethora of opportunities
around the city and throughout North America. I witnessed the power
of dialogue (Groen & Kawalilak 2014) after reflecting with role models
in my life about the adventure that I was on. My volunteerism with
adult groups was mere, short-lived and rare whereas my experiences
with children and youth were plentiful, meaningful and thoughtprovoking. There was always a reason I was drawn to working with
children and youth but without dialogue between my personal
reflections and those around me, I might have never gained the
insights I have today.
The education system screams opportunity to me when I think
about it but right now its just a factory; an efficient system to
categorize children and determine their career path. My visions
encompass so much more than efficiency, categorization and careers. I
want to guide these children into become young leaders of positive
social change in their communities. Margaret Wheatleys set of eight

fearless questions (Wheatley, 2009) are a wonderful way to start the

conversation of social justice in the classroom and to change
perceptions of the way students see the world in which they live. I will
use these questions to start the journey, guide us throughout and help
cultivate reflections after our time together. And here it is, my
significant learning moment; a culmination of my life experiences and
influences along with the processing time of about one year. If I can
inspire and empower the students that I teach, I know that I dont have
to change the world alone and I know that these students will
challenge my own assumptions about what social justice means. It will
be a learning process for all of us, a form of social movement learning
as quoted in Groen and Kawalilak on pages 66-67 (Hall et. al 2012).
And thats exactly what I think of when I ponder about the concept of
an adult learner. I think an adult learner is an expert learner. Someone
who accepts that they will never know everything there is to know
about a particular subject but is confident in their ability to commit to
lifelong learning, knows how to learn and willingly shares that story
with others.
There are still days when I question what Im doing and why Im
doing it. This type of thinking used to scare me but now I think its an
important and inevitable process that continues to build my motivation
and ground me in my core beliefs. I strongly value education,
empowerment and justice. Sometimes I wonder if I came upon this

career path because my family and friends convinced me it was right

or perhaps because society told me to take a position in a femaledominated field? Whatever the reason, I know Im in the right place
today. I know what I want to achieve and with whom I want to achieve
it with. The flexibility lies in how and where Ill be making the steps to
achieve a more just and peaceful world to live in. Ideas about being an
activist and wanting to change the world are overwhelming if I try and
do it on my own but if I can empower those open and willing to learn
about how to make change happen, my journey is guaranteed to be
free of loneliness and filled with empowered activists by my side.