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The Value of an Education; Message to the Students from the Jamaican in China
The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
A special message to students from the Jamaican in China
Not many things surprise me.
Having practiced a certain amount of non-attachment to things, outcomes and people throughout my life has given me a unique take on life.
I'm not inflexibly attached to my goals. Yes, I set goals and strive to reach them, but if things don't turn out exactly as I would like, I don't resist. I go with the flow, seek the silver lining, find the lesson to be learned, grow from the experience, and reset my expectations. I believe that there is divine order at work, although it may not always seem to be so from my vantage point. I know that the universe is perfect.
I'm not unduly attached to my expectations of others. Yes, I have my standards, but if people don't behave exactly as I would like, I don't judge. I accept that people are here for different reasons and are not obligated (or sometimes, even able) to act in certain ways simply because I expect them to. I go with the flow, file the observations away for future reference, and reset my expectations. I know that people will do what people will do.
I'm not easily distracted or shaken off course. Yes, I strive to live in the moment and embrace the range of emotions that humans experience, but when catastrophes, disasters and accidents occur, I don't panic. I keep my wits about me and am able to see what actions are necessary, and take them calmly and efficiently. I believe and accept a unique insight into the nature of things. I know that stuff happens.
So, why am sharing all of this? Well, my ultimate point is actually not as profound as the lead-up might imply. First, however, I’ll share with you that I'm not on Saipan anymore. In case the news didn't reach you through the usual channels, this Jamaican nomad is now in Beijing, China!
Spanish in China
But, here’s the interesting part. If anyone had told me that I would be speaking Spanish in order to communicate with the Chinese people I'm meeting here ("Hey, Walt, I hear you're going to China. Well, make sure you start practicing your Spanish. You're going to need it.") I would absolutely, positively, (though, perhaps, not out loud) have thought to myself, "This person has lost her mind."
You see, there are quite a number of Chinese learning Spanish, and I happened to have connected with one of them through a networking site before escaping to China. Through her, I've been meeting more and more Spanish-speaking Chinese, and since my Mandarin is not as developed as it soon will be, and since their English isn't either, we communicate in Spanish!
As I said, even though I'm not easily surprised by life's often fascinating turn of events, I will hereby go on record to say the following: Every time I find myself texting or speaking Spanish to my new friends as I walk the streets of Beijing, China, I can't help but pause, smile and think, "Wow, this is pretty cool!" (Yep, that's the extent of my expression of surprise.)
Now, such occurrences are probably normal and par for the course for veteran, multilingual nomads who must often find a common language for communication with those they meet in their journeys, but for me, a Kingston, Jamaican-born, farm boy at heart, yes, it's enough to surprise me.
And it's all possible because, are you ready for my point now, finally? It's all because: I paid attention in school!
"I'm not going to be a programmer, why do I need to learn Fortran?"
Yes, but because I paid attention in Spanish class in high school, I can put what I learned to practical use and live my dream life communicating with people who speak no English in a country where I wouldn't have expected I would ever need it.
(See "Speaking Spandarish..." on the JamaicaninChina.com blog)
"I don't know any Spanish people, why do I need to learn Spanish?"
Yes, but because I paid attention in Fortran (a computer programming language) class in high school, and in college, and learned the basic logic of IF statements and DO loops, I can figure out a fix my own website "shoppping cart" software and continue to make money online while I'm gallivanting on the Great Wall. (See "Guess What I Did Today" on the JamaicaninChina.com blog)
"Click here to send us a verification massage, so we can rob you blind!"
Because I paid attention in English class, I can spell correctly, recognize good grammar from bad, and determine the scam emails from the legitimate ones. (I covered this one in "I enjoyed your recent verification massage!" SaipanTribune.com July 21, 2010)
So, anyway, these are just three recent examples of many that I could use to make a simple point: Everything you will ever be, do or have in life will be the sum total of all that you know and experience. Therefore, the way to be, do or have more is to learn more. Many people shy away from certain types of education believing that it won’t ever be relevant to their future. However, everything from your formal education to basic skills like driving a car, cooking, etc. all combine to maximize your future potential. They give you more options, and more points of contact with the wider world.
So, as a student, whether you are in elementary, high school or college, keep an open mind as you plan and execute your education. You never know how the things you're learning now will figure into your future life. Everything builds upon what comes before. Every bit of knowledge and information has the potential to improve your life.
And, who knows? One day, if and when you decide to envision a brand new life for yourself, to break free from the traditions and the shackles of other people's expectations and limitations, to run off to pursue a life that fulfills YOUR personal and private desires, you might just surprise yourself with how much you really do know, and how much it can actually help you live the life of your dreams!
Buena suerte, hǎo yùnqì, and good luck!
Note: Fans and followers of the book, Jamaican on Saipan, may order a copy on jamaicanonsaipan.com.
Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that revealed the best things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to www.bestofsaipan.com!
Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!--Walt
Send article suggestions, entrepreneur nominations and feedback about this article to firstname.lastname@example.org. Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of 16 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several successful businesses in the US, and now makes his home here on Saipan. To learn more, visit www.passionprofit.com and follow Walt on Twitter (waltonsaipan)
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WHERE IS SAIPAN?
Located in the western pacific, a short flight from Guam and 3 hours from Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a popular tourist destination rich in history, culture and natural resources. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, is the largest and most populated of the 14 islands making up an archipelago that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench.
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