Seen as a Teaching Moment

There I was last weekend sitting at my computer in my office in my home while Ginger sat at my feet. After months of my hard work and an equal amount of time waiting to get incorporated, waiting to get designated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity, and filling out numerous other forms, We Are Family in Myanmar, Inc. is up on GoFundMe. I clicked on it and was happy and relieved. Finally, after all the work and delays, it is up there for the world to read. What a feeling of relief.

One one thousand, two one thousand….

And then it happened. Gone was the sheer joy and excitement, which was replaced with a single word. Scared. There I sat totally overwhelmed. It was far more gut-wrenching than waiting to be posted on GoFundMe. Waiting for my campaign being posted on GoFundMe pales in comparison to the realization that I was at the place of having to raise a half million dollars in less than eight months. I felt vulnerable. Will I be able to do it wasn’t lurking in the back of my mind; the question was staring me in the face.

Ginger looked at me, as if to say, “Hey, you don’t look too good.” I didn’t care what I looked like; I felt scared. There I sat wondering and worrying. I knew that I had to vent my feelings. Almost instinctually, I emailed Moh Moh.

Moh Moh,

You and Ko Ko know me well…. Right now, I am scared. Click on It has been up for
just a couple of hours. Now, I am facing the whirlwind…. I can’t fail.

Tell Ti Ti that PaPa Al thanks her for saying, “Hi! My name is Ti

Now, back to work….


While the fundraising drive was up, nonetheless, the feeling of fear replaced my impatience. It was crunch time for me. I looked around. There was no one here that I could talk to and express my sheer angst. It was just Ginger and I. So, I sat there for nearly an hour and vented my feelings to my 80-pound Irish Setter. She seemed to sense, as she looked at me, that I was scared. Ginger merely looked at me as a Rogerian psychotherapist would while dealing with a client facing psychological issues.

Finally, I vented to Ginger what I needed to express. Why was I so petrified about raising a half million dollars, purchasing 1250 laptops, and getting a service provider to improve Internet speed to the two schools where my three granddaughters attend in less than eight months? Granted, both of us are fully aware that this is a Herculean-esque task.

Then it dawned on me; it is a teaching moment especially for the 1250 students who will have access to a computer at the end of this year. It is a statement about how much I care and value them.

I reflected upon my past while I was in school. There were people who helped me move ahead in academia even when I was uncertain about my abilities. People who were related to me, friends, or teachers took the time to encourage me as I began my journey down my yellow brick road of life. I must do for others what others have done for me.

Then my mind morphed to the recent past. Instead of typing, I recalled all the fun times that I had with my granddaughters in Taunggyi. We played games, went for long walks, laughed, and talked. Writing this essay took a great deal more time for me to compose and write. I’m 76 years old, and this is an extremely emotional issue for me. In the midst of tears, I remember the sheer joy that my family has given to me.

Then my mind jumped to a time when my granddaughters will be married and have their own families. What will they tell their children about PaPa Al or Bo Bo Gyi, which is what Fatty calls me? What memories will their families have of an old man from the States who loved their mothers when they were young children?

Beyond my grandchildren, surely, some of the other 1247 students will recall seeing me. What impact will I have upon them as they go down their yellow brick roads of life. I hope that they remember me as a person who saw value in them and wanted to help make their education more beneficial due to access to laptops at their schools.

If my angst wasn’t enough, what if I can’t raise a half million dollars before mid-December of this year. I need to raise over $2000 per day from now until December. Even in the midst of failure, there will still be a teaching moment. As I sat there thinking, I could taste what Teddy Roosevelt said about the Man in the Arena.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Even if I fail, it will be “while daring greatly, so that (my) place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” This is a critically important teaching moment. Either way, I will help teach 1250 students a vital lesson about life.

As I save this essay, turn off my computer, and go to bed, I will get up early tomorrow and take Ginger for a walk around the lake, which we do every day. As we circumnavigate the lake, I’ll talk to her again about my family and my quest to get 1250 laptops. We will then have breakfast. Then I will go to work at raising a half million dollars. Either way, it will be a win-win for me and the 1250 children.