A veteran teacher once told me as we parted at the airport: “Teach with your heart. Do it with lots of love. You’re educating souls who are seeking light. All souls seek love and light.”
You see, I’m a teacher. I’m a great teacher. I try my best to make an impact on my kids’ – and more – lives every day. I believe in learning, unlearning and relearning, and in living in the space of authenticity, mindfulness and vulnerability. I live my life the best way possible so that my life becomes a teacher as well.
I didn’t choose to be a teacher though – in many ways, teaching chose me.
Many didn’t know this but, before I became an English and Literature teacher at a secondary school in Singapore, my childhood ambition was to work with the UN. Yup, the United Nations.
After coming up as one of the top students in my JC for A levels, I clinched a place in Australian National University’s prestigious International Relations programme. I was well on the way to becoming a diplomat or humanitarian!
But life has always loved throwing curveballs at me, and I had to quit school barely halfway through my first semester. I came back to Singapore, dejected and broken, until a job changed my life.
After mulling in my depression for a while, seeing my peers starting school or National Service, I finally got an entry-level job in Singapore and for the next few years, became a trained facilitator and program coordinator, managing academic and life skills programmes both locally and regionally. I’ve worked in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, running life-changing programmes for children and youth, and even did one teacher-training course in KL.
I went on to receive a scholarship to study in the National University of Singapore, did an exchange programme to the University of Manchester, taught at language exchanges in NUS, did an internship in Mauritius where I conducted training, helped translate for my Psychology professor in his clinic, and then went on to become a teacher.
Through that journey, I’ve lived not only in Singapore but also for several months at a time in Australia and the UK for undergraduate school, all doing work related to teaching. I also survived and thrived through abuse, depression & a hell of a bad break-up. And then, one day, I walked into class and my students (now my kids) greet me as ‘Miss Atikah’.
So why The Tudung Traveller, and why The Tudung Traveller Academy?
Through the journey that life has taken me on thus far, I’ve learnt that the world offers knowledge by the ocean of abundance. It is up to us to come with whatever we have – a spoon or a cup or a bowl or an entire container – and make the best out of it. I also believe that whatever we have at any given point of time – our privilege, ambitions, gifts, and blessings – is our responsibility. Using them well and with excellence is an obligation, not a choice. Our responsibility is to live life the best way we can, with grace and kindness, and with much love. While we’re at it – we lift others as we can. And how do we lift?
We support. We empathise. We teach.
I’ll be starting up courses on women empowerment, healing, mental health and travel, fusing all my knowledge, expertise and passion into one for YOU. This is me lifting YOU. This is me lifting US as a community.
You see, many of us fail to realise that things like progress, patience, kindness and humility are all works in progress. They aren’t something we can magically pluck out of thin air; they are what we teach and train ourselves to do. They require clarification, practice, effort, and consistency. We make ourselves learn to do it.
I value experience above prescribing what is right or wrong, so this journey is going to be one where we experience together. I share my story and experience with those who seek, be it of my travels or of my life, and I hold your hand through yours. I am of the belief that we are never alone in our experiences, and that we all crave to find solidarity with others.
I believe that who you allow into your life, heart and mind are amongst the most important decisions you will ever make. Thus, I do my best to mindfully allow people in, while at the same time be the best person I can be for other people. We absorb the energy of the people we surround ourselves with. The journey has painfully taught me to clarify my personal values and to hold on to them dearly – to prioritise quality and dignity over quantity or praise – and to keep steadfast despite external pressure. The biggest revelation is that when I do me, when I invest my energy and time into the things I truly care and am passionate about, and when I come from a place of authenticity and genuine love, the universe conspires to bring the people who truly matter into my life.
You have my word that this is me being my best self, and I’m ready to walk with you through your journey of success too.
Here’s to a new beginning – The Tudung Traveller Academy. Bismillah.
To find out about the FIRST COURSE and the EARLY BIRD discount, visit thegoodspender.com