M Stories

M Stories:  The Long Journey Toward Lightness

Lightness and Kirti

Some "M Stories" don't begin at MIS. Some begin thousands of miles away in Tanzania. Lightness Isojick's "M Story" began in 2007 when she applied for an MIS sponsorship to finish her high school diploma. (Community members and faculty such as Middle and Senior School Math teacher Julia Walch were one of Lightness's sponsors.) Through the Tanzania Project, MIS sponsored Lightness for the next 5 years to finish high school and throughout her university years.

Totaling less than 2,000 USD, the return on investment has been "immeasurable" as Lightness has been a teacher for 12 years. She currently teaches at Black Rhino Academy, a stunningly picturesque international school in the heart of Karatu, Tanzania. For Lightness, the blessings of perseverance have come later in life.

Due to difficult family circumstances, she began first grade at the age of 10. She joined a classroom of approximately 120 other 1st graders – mostly younger than herself. She did not initially excel as a student, but her indomitable mother supported Lightness and her twin sister at home to be able to read and write by the age of 14.

Lightness graduated from high school when most women her age would have already finished university and/or gotten married. She could have easily decided she was too old for university. "If it weren't for my mother, I would have dropped out of school and got married, and many of my age-mates actually did that. But my mom was a visionary person and she felt like education was the only way to get a better life" explains Lightenss.  At times, the struggle became too much and Lightness recalls reaching out to MIS's Tanzania Project Coordinator and teacher for moral support and encouragement. "I felt like I am giving him emotional trauma" says Lightness teasingly to Mr. Kirti Joshi.

With encouragement from Mr. Joshi and her support network, "I realized that all you need is to hold on even when things aren't working out. I have gone through struggles; and the moment I held on and was persistent and tenacious, that's when I said things can really be possible. Persistency is the key." 

Reflecting on the struggles from her own learning journey inspired her to become the teacher she never had:  "The story of my childhood was the push to want to be a teacher because I knew what I was missing in school. You know, many times teachers are not interested in children who are not doing very well. And I wasn't doing very well. Teachers are overwhelmed. They won't deal with someone who doesn't seem to get it at all. They will push them aside and only work with someone who is catching up. So I decided to be a teacher because I know there is this group who is left out".  Lightness describes the kind of teacher she is: "I want learning to be fun, and loud, and all over the place. I'm not the kind of teacher who wants to be in class all the time because I'm full of energy. I can't even sit all day, so I can't imagine being a child and sitting in a desk from morning til the end of the day. So, we'll be outside and doing things and trying to connect those things to what they are learning".

Like all M Stories, Lightness was nurtured through challenge to discover what inspires her. Her mother nurtured her education and MIS helped sponsor it. Despite overwhelming obstacles, she became a teacher and a nurturer herself -- the kind of teacher that would fit in very well at MIS.  During a busy schedule of speaking engagements at schools and organizations throughout Germany, Lightness fulfilled her “pilgrimage” and finally got to visit MIS.  She presented to many groups of students, participated in learning-shares, classroom observations, and then went out for an Italian dinner in Starnberg with retired MIS teacher and Tanzania Project Coordinator, Kirti Joshi as well as her sponsor/MIS teacher, Julia Walch.  Upon her return to Tanzania, Lightness is taking nurturing to the next level. On a mission to make education accessible to an even larger community, Lightness is petitioning the Tanzanian government for a piece of land in Karatu where a public library will be built. With her characteristic persistency; she states, "I'm not stopping. I'm just starting."


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