The Answer to This Question is Your Most Valuable Asset

Why are you doing what you’re doing? When I traveled to Taiwan for my first job teaching English, I knew I was teaching so I could travel. Things have changed since then. Travel is still the main goal, but language learning has become more important to me, and teaching English has given me value.

In person, I’ve taught students in Taiwan, France, and Japan. Online, I’ve taught students from China, Spain, Peru, Russia, England, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, Kamchatka(technically part of Russia, but I think it’s worthy of it’s own mention), and other countries. Some of the students I teach in-person during the week are not so motivated, and it is not uncommon to see a similar indifference in online students from time to time. Learning a language is a tough task, and discouragement in the process is a natural occurrence. Except for Roma.

Roma(full name Roman, but he specifically instructed me to call him Roma) is a 12 year old boy from Russia whom I help practice English on most weekends. His English is already fantastic and my role is really just to provide some conversation with a Native speaker, answer his questions, and correct some mistakes. Last weekend, Roma and I spent 30 minutes of our hour long session talking about what we would do if we had a million dollars and a helicopter.

His plan:

Buy a small share in a business of steady growth. Stash some money away for retirement. With the money left over build a new house – not too big – and another building to be used as an orphanage. Adopt HUNDREDS of cats. Put the cats in the orphanage. Use the helicopter as a taxi service for people who are running late getting to the airport.

I can’t help but respect a 12 year-old with some business savvy and a better plan for the future than I have now. I was unable to discern whether the ‘orphanage’ would have children in it as well, or if it was specifically for cats.

My plan:

I’ll buy small houses all over the world and use them as shelters for travellers while the helicopter would provide transportation so I could help people get better exposure to different cultures around the world.

Roma immediately pointed out that helicopters travel much slower than planes and flight time between countries like France and Japan would be exaggerated beyond the point of practicality(no, not his exact words). He also pointed out that my travellers would probably want to change location pretty regularly and one helicopter would never be sufficient to get this job done.

My new plan:

Give my money and helicopter to Roma and let him decide what to do with it.

He liked this idea much more. He went on to make new plans which included a flying house with detachable garden and swimming pool, more cats, more helicopters, and his own helicopters that would somehow be able to fly to the moon. There was also some maniacal cackling thrown in when he described his plan, so it was difficult to decipher whether or not there were any malevolent intentions lurking in the framework.

There was a day where I thought I could save the world. I’m not so optimistic now. But, when I talk to Roma, I know I’m doing something to put it in a better place. He is a brilliant kid. Beyond his business savvy and language abilities, Roma also has knowledge of programming technologies and is currently designing his own game along with his friends who design websites and other programs. He can move on to do some impressive things in the future, and by connecting with other cultures he can have a more positive world-wide impact. Through him, – as long as the evil cackling side of him doesn’t take over his personality – I know I’m helping the world become better connected in the future. I’ll do my best to keep him in check.

Roma is just one example of why I’m doing what I’m doing, and no matter who you are that question will come to you eventually. Whether you ask it of yourself, or someone else poses the question for you, it is best to have an answer you’re confident in. If you don’t then what are you doing?

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