Updated: Jul 7, 2020

During this time of the pandemic, we have developed a hobby of fishing with my family since my son loves fishing, and it is a great outdoor activity with social distancing.

A few days ago, our experience of fishing was quite funny. Very different than his usual character, my son was complaining about little things, and my wife was laughing at us. At some point, I had to ask him how we could have fun together when he gets upset about little things. You can see a picture of my kids as they are fishing. Did you notice the eagle-shaped cloud in the image? :)

This day with my son reminded me of something I witnessed about 22 years ago. Before I arrived in the USA in 2001, I worked in Nairobi, Kenya, as a computer science teacher at a wonderful private school called Light Academy for four years. Our school leaders were very progressive and successful people. Everyone was doing everything that they can for the school to be successful. I was happy that my computer lab had the state of the art computers to teach my students.

One day, a pastor from one of the neighboring churches asked our school leaders if they could give a full scholarship to a refugee student who recently escaped the Sudanese war and needed a place. Our school leaders graciously accepted the student with a full scholarship.

The first day that I had this student in my class, we were scheduled to have a test. He was a very gentle boy. Since he was new, I told him not to worry about the questions but just write what he knew about computers on a piece of paper. He looked at my face and said that he was sorry, but he did not know anything about computers since this was his first experience with computers. I then told him, "Not to worry! You will learn in this class. At this time, you can just draw the part of the computers on a paper looking at the computer in front of you." He was happy with the idea and quickly started doing it.

A few days later, he came to me with a phone number and asked if there was a way for him to communicate with the people who brought him to the school. At that time, I did not have a cell phone, so I directed him to the front office to use the phone. A few minutes later, he came back and said he couldn't do it because he never used a phone by himself before. I then helped him with the phone.

A few weeks later, I took all of my students to a picnic. We enjoyed nature, played soccer, and had a barbecue with all students together. At some point during the day, I noticed that he was sitting alone, and there were tears in his eyes. I felt bad. I went to him and asked if something was bothering him. He said something that I will never forget: "All my life passed during the Sudanese war. I got emotional because I never had such a happy day in my life before, and I never thought I would have one." That put tears in my eyes at that time and still does whenever I think about it.

As I mentioned earlier, I remembered this because the other day, my son was complaining about little things during fishing. But in reality, when I think about it, I am not sure If I am different from my son. Many of us take many beautiful things in our lives for granted and maybe even complain or worry unnecessarily. Perhaps, it is time to remember those who are not as fortunate as us and do something about them. Perhaps it is time to stop living for ourselves and start living for others. Perhaps then, we will stop complaining...

Below is a picture of me with my students from my days in Nairobi.

With much love to everyone,

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Dr. Kenan Sener is the founding Head of School at one of our nation’s most excellent independent schools, Fulton Science Academy Private School, with seven years of teaching and fifteen years of school administration experience. He has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johns Hopkins University and is the first-ever recipient of the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award among all charter school principals in the State of Georgia in 2011. Additionally, he is the recipient of the 2016 STEM Education Award by Technology Association of Georgia. Furthermore, he was also recognized with the 2017 Spirit of Discovery and Imagination Award for Exceptional Service by Global Destination Imagination. Dr. Sener created the WHAT IS NEXT IN EDUCATION blog in 2020. Since then, the website has been thriving and has quickly gained a loyal following.

Kenan Sener, Ed. D.