In Pursuit of Educational Equity
June 29, 2021
My father immigrated from Thailand to the United States in the late 1980s with an American Dream: to be educated, have a secure job, then start a family. At a very young age, my father escaped Laos due to the civil war, known as the Secret War. Seeking refuge in Thailand, my father had a new place to call home, but he was not quite content with his life just yet. Immigrating to the United States, my dad arrived with nothing but his aspirations for a better life. Today, I am the living proof of my dad’s journey; a continued story full of dreams, hope, and resiliency.
At a very young age, my father taught me the importance of obtaining an education. He never got the chance to go to college, so he made sure I had the choice to do so if I wished. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, my father never missed any of my parent-teacher conferences, afterschool programs, nor my graduation ceremonies. These small acts of support played a crucial role in my success as a student, especially since I was raised in rural North Carolina and experienced many adversities with my intersectionality as a queer Hmong-American.
I always admired my dad’s strength and kindness, but my experience as a queer Hmong-American in rural North Carolina molded me to be the strong and independent person I am today. My dad has instilled in me the ability to dream big, and I have learned to do so in addition to advocating for what I want to be true for myself. These were the values I hope to teach my students, as I entered the classroom in 2019 as a Teach For America Corps Member and middle school mathematics educator.
“There is one thing I know I am certain of — we need educational reformation at every level of our public education system.”
Reflecting on the past two years, I am still not sure what to make of it. A part of me is afraid to recall the harsh reality I faced as an openly queer educator in rural Eastern North Carolina. Another part of me wonders what is next for me and what role I will play. However, there is one thing I know I am certain of — we need educational reformation at every level of our public education system. Radical changes in our education system are necessary for us to move forward as a nation.
My time in the classroom has been worthwhile and eye-opening. I have learned what direction I need to take to achieve the positive impact I know the students of our nation deserve and need. My next adventure will take me to Thailand as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Scholar. I am very eager to use the knowledge I gain in our domestic educational system abroad. I hope to use my story to inspire others to achieve impact in their own rightful way. In the beginning, I only saw educational inequity in my neighborhood, then my state. As I move forward in my professional career, I want to focus on the bigger picture, addressing educational inequality across borders and countries. I believe education is a human right and I want to contribute my life's work towards advocating for all our children. I look forward to strengthening our Teach For America network and continue to uphold the organization’s mission in my future work. I invite all current corps members and alumnus to continue the excellent work we have started and to always have hope for a brighter future.
Jordan Lor (Eastern North Carolina '19) is dedicated to advocating for educational equity. He looks forward to broadening his experience serving and educating youth as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award in Thailand.