Crossing countries, expanding minds
Math teacher speaks of world travels
March 1, 2017 • 231 views
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There is a man who has set his feet upon the soil of many different countries. He has walked the grounds of Russia and tasted the food of Thailand. He has traveled to the lands of Austria and stood along the streets of India. This same man even took up residence in Saudi Arabia for a time. His name is Bryan Christian and he is LCM’s new math teacher.
Setting up shop in room B-37, Christian teaches Pre-Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics. He was born and raised in Southeast Texas. Following graduate school, Christian started his career in 1991 at a high school in Los Fresnos, Texas. His traveling started out small, with weekend and holiday trips to Mexico. After five years of teaching in Los Fresnos, Christian went on to accept a job in Bangkok, Thailand. From there, he spent the next 20 years teaching in Russia, Austria, Saudi Arabia and India.
“Early in my teaching career, I had a student with serious health issues,” Christian said. “Despite everything else she was going through, she continued to want work from her teachers. She told me it gave her hope for the future and provided a sense of normalcy to her life. Working with a young adult facing her own mortality helped put things into perspective for me. We never know how long we are going to be here, but we have to hope and continue to work for a better future.”
According to Christian, what keeps him going to work every day is the feeling of making a difference in a student’s life. While teaching in India, he volunteered with a group to teach street children on the weekends. He recounts that they would meet almost every Sunday morning along the seawall near his apartment in Mumbai.
“There was no classroom,” Christian said. “There were very few supplies, just some chalk and the sidewalk, but the kids would come out in droves for the chance to learn.”
During his time traveling, Christian was able to walk the Red Square, hike in the Alps, dive in the Andaman Sea, and even bike in the foothills of the Himalayas. Christian said he loves the phrase, “It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.” According to the veteran teacher, some of the fondest memories of his travels include the people he met, the friends he made, and the experiences he had.
“I was once riding the Metro (subway) in Moscow early one Sunday morning,” Christian said. “The only other person in the car was an elderly Russian lady with a scowl on her face. The train came to a stop, the doors opened and a dog stepped into the car and sat down. We traveled through several stations, stopping at each one. At the third or fourth stop, the dog stood up and walked out as if it knew that was the stop it needed. The lady and I looked at each other and her face broke into this huge grin. Russians are notorious for almost never smiling.”
Christian has traveled to many different places and learned that people in other countries often do things differently. He said the key to really enjoying traveling is to have an open mind.
“If you travel expecting things to be like back home, then you’re better off not leaving home,” Christian said. “However, if you are willing to be open to new experiences and new adventures, then there is a whole wonderful world out there just waiting for you.”
According to Christian, he teaches because of the feeling it gives him when he helps students. Whether it is by helping them understand a difficult concept or by having a positive impact in their lives, that chance of making a difference is what keeps him doing what he does.
In Christian’s opinion, everyone is constantly growing, developing and being shaped by their life experiences. While it’s true that he has been around the world, Christian believes he is not done finding himself. Each year he teaches, wherever that is, there is one important lesson he shares with his students before any other.
“I often start the year out asking my students what they want to be when they grow up,” Christian said. “I usually get answers like engineer, doctor, nurse, etc. I then have to tell them they missed the point of the question. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are happy. That’s the only truly correct answer to that question.”
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