When my students are accepted to foreign Universities, they feel they have achieved something of extraordinary value. In reality, they have because a great education cannot be measured monetarily it can only be freely shared through one’s character of achievement.
I tell my students that the true worth of a person is not measured through one's salary or what they spent on earning their degrees. What students learn in the classroom will not ultimately define who they are as human beings, but how well they live in communion with others will define their true character. In other words, a person’s true worth can be measured by how well they spend their lives in the service of others.
I have discovered over the years that what we give to our community, we, in turn, give to ourselves. When we enhance the lives of those in need, we, in turn, enhance our own lives - because what we give to others comes back to us in greater fold.
Fools will continue to strive for the material possessions they do not have but wish to gain. The wise, on the other hand, will develop what they already possess within themselves.
Higher learning is the means of developing the skills, knowledge, and understanding needed to develop one’s true potential and gain a fulfilling career.
It is unfortunate, though, that my career as a High School teacher in Wuxi, China, is coming to an end. In the Jiangsu Province, where I have been living and teaching, there is a mandatory retirement age of 60. I will turn 60 in October 2022, and I will miss the students and staff here very much.
An HR person at the school asked me, “what is the mandatory retirement age in America?”
I told him, “a mandatory retirement is no different than age discrimination, and it is illegal to discriminate against a person due to their age in America.”
A staff member looked at me, shocked, and said, “you don’t look old.”
My reply was, “I don’t feel old.”
A student overhearing our conversation said, “you look young because you have a young heart.”
On a brighter note, I will be moving to the city of Shaoxing in the Zhejiang Province, and I will be able to continue teaching there. I look forward to continuing as a High School teacher -- even though I will be in a different school, I know my students will enjoy my classes. There is a shortage of teachers in the Zhejiang Province, so I will be able to teach there to 65, and then I will most likely return to America, hopefully, as a teacher.
Discrimination against age, gender, disabilities, and religious beliefs still occurs in the US and China. In China, it seems more explicit than in the US, but laws in America try to protect workers from injustice.
The way workers are protected in America through labor laws makes me proud to be an American.
- Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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