Mrs Raza helped me overcome shyness and Ms Azra developed my interest in sports
I have been fortunate to have some wonderful teachers but two of those have been very special for me, Mrs Naseem Raza, my English language teacher and Ms Azra, my sports teacher.
Mrs Raza was graceful not only in how she carried herself but also in the way she treated others. She was strict but fair. She did not have any favourites and appreciated anyone who put in good work.
I changed schools in grade 6, moving from a very ordinary school to a better one. Everything was different there: the environment, the students, the teachers. One major adjustment I had to make was to converse in English, which I was not comfortable with. My English was weak and I remember when somebody asked me a question I answered " I will do it on tomorrow", everyone laughed and I became even more shy.
Mrs Raza helped me overcome this shyness by encouraging me on every small effort I made and any good work I did. Her comments were most witty, interesting and inspiring. She encouraged us to use our imagination, never imposing her ideas or curbing our creativity. I used to love her wit and I would often be the first one to laugh at her jokes, cracked, keeping a straight face.
She would often ask us to get into groups and make presentations which helped even the shy ones to gain confidence. The responsibility of judging such presentations was entrusted to students, instilling in them a sense of authority and fairness.
Mrs Raza was very humane and although at first she appeared tough she had a heart of gold. She quietly did a lot of voluntary social work. I later found out that she did not get a salary for teaching at our school; yet, her dedication was inspirational. She gave me something very valuable; her time. She gave me tuition on her own initiative, without any fee. That extra time for English lessons improved my language skills, so much so that when I was doing law, one of my seniors who had topped in the exams, complimented that he wished that his English was as good as mine!
I couldn’t help but smile and, at that moment, the first person I thought of was Mrs Raza and prayed to God to always keep her well.
Ms Azra was another special teacher; she helped me discover my aptitude for sports and take advantage of my good height for excelling in various sports. She selected me to play as second shooter in netball, a game I was totally unfamiliar with. Once, somebody asked me if I knew shooting and I answered with an emphatic ‘No’! of course, I was thinking literally and did not understand that it meant shooting the ball in the basket.
Thus, began my interest in sports, and throughout my student life I played in the netball team from school to university. Ms Azra was critical and appreciative at the same time. Critical, when any of us showed laziness and appreciative, when we tried to be the best individually and also as a team. She led by example, come hail or storm she was there on the field urging us to give it our best and after that it didn’t matter if we won or lost.
I think teachers let the students discover and rediscover themselves and we owe it to them for all that we learn and for the way they help us in the art of living well.