Big Rig Drivers


Jeepney

Jeepney

An essential part of our financial aid program (FAPHS) that helps bright kids from poor families finish their high school education is student mentoring and counseling. We motivate the kids to continually think about their plans after high school, and to preoccupy their thoughts about what they love to learn and do in terms of skills. This “thinking about the future” exercise serves to awaken and revitalize inner resolve to commit to a goal. It is part and parcel of our effort to direct, counsel and guide our young charges.

Randy, a quiet and serious kid in our program loves any kind of driving experience. On Sundays, when fares are abundant specially Church-goers and small merchants traveling from the outlying barrios or villages into town, he hangs out at the local bus stop plying the “transportation trade”. He volunteers to help load baskets of produce, merchandise, goods and then hitches a ride to town to help unload. We asked him what’s up with the gig? He smartly said that sometimes the driver would ask him to park the vehicle, or to back it out. He considers getting to drive the car his reward.

Mini van to San Fernando

Mini van to San Fernando

He loves any kind of driving, tinkering with engines, and fixing things. He has “driving” in his blood. Randy will drive for nothing – just so that he can get behind the wheel – be it a lowly tricycle for fare, or a modified World War II jeepney, or even a small mini van transporting passengers longer distances.

In our program we also invite vacationing alumni member professionals to come talk to and share with our kids what they do for a living and their careers. We had a guest from Washington state who drove semi trucks for a living. He told his story about transporting apples, peaches, pears, and other produce from Yakima to Chicago, or transporting merchandise to New York. Randy sat there listening, mesmerized. He didn’t move a muscle during the talk. He looked admiringly at the gentleman, like a starry-eyed movie fan in awe of their screen idol.

“I did some cross-border trucking usa… er…yes, picking up a load from Tacoma, driving to Canada and then on the way back I picked up another load from Vancouver and drove all the way down to San Ysidro by the Tijuana border.” He said this long sentence without taking a breath. The kids gave him blank, puzzled stares, as if to say, “What’s he talking about?”

A big 18-wheeler

A big 18-wheeler

Realizing he dumped too much unfamiliar information on them, he smiled and produced a map of the western United States, unfurled it and laid it down on a long table. The kids quickly gathered in excitement. Soon many fingers pointed at places on the map covering the entire surface. The guest speaker and Randy moved to another table.

“Sir… please tell me more about your work. Is it hard to get a driving job in America?” Randy eagerly asked.

“No. It’s not so hard. But the preparation, training, licensing, the rules and regulations, and final certification are quite demanding though,” replied the guest. “But like any other skill, the more you do it, the better you get at it.”

With palpable excitement Randy asked more questions. “What does it take to become a truck driver in America?”

“Well, I don’t think we have enough time to cover everything,” said the guest speaker. “I’ll tell you what. Come by my mother’s house this evening and we’ll talk some more about it.”

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Career Workshop


“How many of you here are thinking about going into the field of medicine? Oh, perhaps to become a doctor, a dentist, a gerontologist, podiatrist, ophthalmologist, neurologist… there are many fields in medicine,” the day’s speaker opened her presentation. Not very many hands went up.

For these poor kids, doctor of medicine is a lofty profession. It costs money to attend medical school and it takes many, many years of study. It means endless hours of study, research, passing the board and licensing exams. Then there is residence time, apprenticeships, internships. To open up a clinic you need expensive equipment – modern enough to use today’s technology and software.

Medicine is for the rich and wealthy. The room became quiet as a tomb.

Unfazed by the silence, the guest presenter continued, “How many of you have ever heard of Chiropractic? Or have visited a chiropractor? You know, like when you have a neck ache, or a severe back ache? Anybody?”

No hands went up.

“Okay then,” she continued. “I’ll share with you an overview of Chiropractic – not chiropractic medicine, mind you. Just chiropractic.” The guest presenter thought for a moment… my kind of crowd.

“When I studied at Emory University I visited a chiropractor’s office in Lawrenceville. Very excellent clinic with a friendly and competent staff. I was so impressed I aspired to emulate that kind of practice.”

She projected the following chart on the screen and talked about the points at great length.

diff_largeThe room buzzed with side comments. Some hands went up. Questions were asked. There was mounting interest.

“Yes,” the presenter pointed at a student in the back. “Do you have a question?”

“This looks like an interesting program,” said a young athletic looking man. “What are the prerequisites? I mean, what does it take to study chiropractic?”

“Well, do you feel good when you help another person deal with a problem?” she asked. “Because in chiropractic, we see and treat the person as a whole – not just body parts.”

Laughter erupted in the room.

“I want some of that,” exclaimed an excited girl with braided hair. She looked like orphan Annie with black hair.

“Some of what?” replied the presenter. There was palpable interest.

“My grandfather complains a lot about back pain,” announced a high school senior. “Maybe I can do something about it using chiropractic…”

The presentation ended with some students surrounding the presenter and asking her questions.