In Pursuit of Educational Equity
TFA alum and incoming Fulbright scholar reflects on their corps experience.
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.