When I arrived at St. Lawrence University in the fall of 2010 I struggled to find my niche academically. I dabbled in the physical sciences and the arts and then found my place in the social sciences. It was when I established myself as a sociology student that I began really engaging with professors and classmates to understand the issues facing our society, on both a macro and micro level. Sociology helped me to dissect issues in education, specifically issues facing educational inequalities in developing countries. I was able to ask questions like what historically created these gaps in education and what current societal structure is restricting educational rights today? Whose rights are restricted? Who or what is creating the educational gap in our society and am I contributing to it? Since graduating from St. Lawrence in May 2014, and following my passion of Chinese Studies, I chose to accept a position with Teach for China. Teach for China is an affiliate of the Teach for All model and is inspired by the vision that one day all Chinese children will have access to a quality education. I work in the “other” China. Not the economically booming Eastern China, but the economically depressed and ethnically suppressed, developing China. The second week of the academic year, a girl in my 8th grade class quit school. She left school in order to peruse her career as a factory worker in Guangdong province because of the pressure she faced to financially contribute to her family. I struggled to wrap my head around it, these students were still children. A local teacher was surprised I was so upset and I assured her I knew this happened; it’s just different living the story versus reading it in a New York Times Best Seller. My colleagues and I are more than just teachers, we are mentors. We are here to tell these children they can in a system that tells them they can’t. I am thankful for the opportunities St. Lawrence gave me to better understand my society so I could better understand others.
Merrill A. Clerkin
Merrill A. Clerkin
Kappa Delta Sigma Sorority member and Senior Advisor, Peer Advisor at the Center for International and Intercultural Studies, St. Lawrence University Dept. of Education Reading Tutor, SLU Buddies. Honor Societies: Alpha Kappa Delta, Gamma Sigma Alpha.
Teach for China