For World Teachers’ Day, Complexd Woman presents aspiring British/Punjabi teacher Bipan Lally, pursuing her teaching credentials in California.
Name: Bipan Lally Age: 26 Place of birth: Luton, United Kingdom Current residence: Davis, California, USA
Although I’m a proud British woman, I am also a proud Punjabi, Indian. I grew up in Luton during a time when gangs, drugs and crime were on the rise. Schools in the area weren’t that great, but my parents pushed us to succeed. During the summer holidays, my brothers and I were not allowed to turn on the TV until we had written a full A4 page of our own story. My dad would ensure it was written in our best handwriting and my mum would make us go to the public library and pick out two books a week. At the time it was hard to appreciate the value of what they were trying to teach us. Both of my parents were born and raised in India, until they moved to the UK in the late 70s. They didn’t speak English back then and they never finished school, ‘what could they possible teach us’, I used to think. Looking back, words can’t describe how grateful I am.
I am currently studying for my teaching credential and joint masters at the University of California Davis. As a part of my placement for my masters, I am teaching at Pioneer High School, Woodland California. The school is underachieving and has been for many years, but I chose it because I want to make a difference in the lives of young people studying there. I teach Chemistry and Biology and I love what I do. My students are like my kids and nothing feels better than seeing the look of hope on their faces every day.
I’ve always wanted to travel to the USA for my masters because I knew I’d learn something new. I stayed in London for my undergraduate degree and although I loved every minute of it, I needed a change. The culture in the USA is more family orientated and religious to some extent. In the area I live people are extremely kind – almost to the point where you question their motives before realising that being nice is normal. The way of life in California is much more mellow and easy-going and I feel people have the ‘work-to-live’ mentality compared to ‘live-to-work’ ethic in the UK.
My style is conservative by day and casual by night. My simple and conventional style is a message to my students that what you wear today will be useless tomorrow, but what you learned and achieved will be priceless. That’s not to say you can’t dress fashionably. Kids are extremely perceptive, if you look like you just rolled out of bed their motivation disintegrates. My philosophy in the classroom is to teach much more than the curriculum. I think it’s my role as a teacher to show my students how to behave professionally in all aspects of their life by being professional in the classroom.
One of my best friends recently made a joke about my incurable travel bug. I love to experience new cultures and see more than just the beaches and tourist hot spots. I need to live, breathe and be immersed in the country’s culture. To be able to be afforded the freedom to travel worldwide and not take advantage of it saddens me, especially when considering how beautiful our world is.
I love that as a woman we were created to carry the world, giving birth to its inhabitants. The best piece of advice I can give to another woman is never let ‘cultural norms’ or self doubt get in the way of fulfilling your dreams. Use your head to make career decisions your heart to love and your soul for family. Travel and love as often as you can. We learn the most about ourselves when we’re plunged into new beginnings and even moments of despair. I’m looking forward to telling my children and grandchildren all my wonderful travel stories and that even as a woman there is no limits.
I am a Complexd woman because during my struggles and fall backs I’ve never given up. I became ill with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 13 and suffered horrendously for many years, but I never let it define me. I worked 7 days a week, 12 hours a day for 4 years after graduating so I can be where I am today. When the tunnel looks gloomy somewhere a soft light is shining. As much as I wanted to give up from exhaustion I kept on going.
Follow Bipan @bipanlally