HAZEL SAUL OSIO
Volunteer, Contributing Writer, Teacher
Every book has a rich story, and mine is no different. I began my journey in northeast Africa, in a coastal country called Ethiopia. My parents Dr. Sergio A. Osio and Ms. Annie C.Saul started their teaching adventure in this country. They were the first Filipino’s (114 people majority were single, some with families, who flew on a Chartered Aircraft) and sent to Ethiopia by the Philippine government. My parents were fresh graduates, Father,ChE-Feati,April‘68,and Mother, BSE-History, PWU-Iloilo,April ‘69. Dad, taught Chemistry, Physics and Math, while Mom taught English and Geography to youngsters in cities like Desi Wolo and Lekempt Wolega. They were so young, and full of enthusiasm to leave their country and to contribute to a world that was on the other side of the globe. They brought Filipino values to this new land such as hard work, dedication, and respect. On April 7,1975 I was born to my parents. The hospital I was delivered in (Princess Saudito Hospital was confiscated by Communists so my parents immediately took me home to avoid the political situation taking place.) We stayed in Ethiopia for one more year, until they were given an opportunity to work in South Central Africa for the Catholic Secretariat of Zambia.
Zambia was a beautiful place to live in, however the political system made goods scarce and rare. I remember standing in line for sugar, butter, and basic necessities. My parents were teachers at St. Francis Boy School in Malole, than we moved to Fatima Girl’s School in Ndola. This is where my brother Sergio S. Osio II was born. My family enjoyed Zambia, however we were given an opportunity to relocate to South Africa.
We were situated in Northern Transval in a Black Bantustan called Republic of Venda. My father taught at Mbilwe Science High School , where a majority of his students were able to pass the Science Metric Exam, and for a Brown man it was a big accomplishment. My mother taught English and History at Paswana Secondary School. This was during Apartheid where Whites,Blacks,Indians and other races were legally separated by law. Since we were in Venda, we lived happily amongst many races and we had a great life. My father eventually became a lecturer at Venda College, where his expertise was to educate future science teachers. I went to boarding school at Selly Park Convent in Rustenburg. I received my first communion there. I would be separated from my parents for three months, than would have a holiday for two weeks then go back to school. It was rough because I was so young (8), and far away from my family. Being expatriate children in Apartheid South Africa was rough because we weren’t allowed to go to local white schools, we stayed in Venda till 1985 before immigrating to California.
I went to Green Tree Elementary School, in Irvine where the other kids were so mean to me, because I had a South African, English accent. I forced myself to become American to survive being bullied by other kids. Eventually my parents found work in Los Angeles, where they were able to work for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Dad taught Math(s) at Our Lady Help of Christians and Mom taught various elementary grades at St.Theresa of Avila School. During this time, my brother and I were educated at Eagle Rock Elementary School, Eagle Rock Jr/Sr High School.
The nice thing about ERHS was it was the only school in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that was a 7th-12th grade school. The friends we made in child hood, were the friends we went to high school with. The unique thing about Eagle Rock as a community was it was a mixture of working class people from every ethnic background. We lived together in harmony and were supportive of one another. I was grateful because I was exposed to Kiwanis International, which sponsored K.E.Y.(Kiwanis Educates Youth) Club. This organization played a big part of my life as a youngster because I did various community service projects such as planting trees, graffiti clean up, visiting elderly people at a Senior citizen home, and feeding the homeless. We did fun things too such as building floats at the Rose Bowl during Christmas holidays for the Rose Parade. My senior year of High School I was elected President of K.E.Y. Club and I was able to be the liaison between ERHS, community leaders, and organize various community projects. I was fortunate to work with a fine group of classmates who were dedicated to improve our immediate community and make it a better place to live in. After graduating from High School, I started my university education at Cal-State University, Los Angeles.
During my university studies, I was working as a teacher assistant for LAUSD, at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Hollywood, CA. This phase of my life was an eye opener because I was exposed to working with Limited English Proficient (LEP) students who didn’t understand, read, or write English. After working with these youngsters for a few months, they would be able to communicate, read and write English. It made me feel amazing because they were on their way to High School and would be able to move on to higher learning. Part of my success in life, is I always gave back to my community. I believe when helping youngsters, with academic subjects such as English, History, Math and Life Skills, I was personally involved in making them into better, considerate, educated members of society. When I graduated from CSULA with a B.S. in Political Science, I was able to use my experience in teaching young people to become an official teacher with LAUSD.
I was a Resource Specialist Teacher at Mt. Gleason Middle School in Sunland, CA. For two years I taught English, Math, Science, Life Skills and Social Science. I was fortunate to have learned Spanish, and Armenian which made communicating and discipline easier, because I could talk to my students parents with ease. I also had a good relationship with my English speaking students and parents, because I was fair but very strict. As a teacher, you cannot be friends with students and parents. It is a job/career, and like any other business it must command respect and dignity. Due to the budget cuts of 2003 I was given a Reduction in Force (RIF) and left Mt. Gleason. I decided to go back to Graduate School in the Philippines, where I studied at Lyceum of the Philippines, University.
This was one of the happiest times of my life because I got to discover Filipino culture, be educated by some of the most prominent United Nations Ambassadors, and Distinguished members of Philippine Academia. I became humble and appreciative of the life and opportunities I had in the US. As a human being, I became compassionate to the poor, to those who were disenfranchised and had dreams of doing better for themselves, their families and community.
I finished a Teaching Credential and Student Teaching at Gov.Andres Pascual College (GPC) in Navotas,Rizal. The community around GPC was very poor and during monsoon, and high tide, the school was flooded and it was an experience to attend class.
I enjoyed going to school at GPC because after class I would go to the fish port and buy the freshest catch of fish and various sea foods. Many of the fisher folks I saw were the most hard working, kindest and hospitable people I had ever met.
After graduation from Lyceum of the Philippines, University with a degree in M.A. International Relations, I decided to come home to the US and find work. Lo and behold the Southern California economy had suffered tremendously. So many of my colleagues with LAUSD were given pink slips, and I had a hard time finding work. I was qualified, credentialed, but due to the budget cuts, none of the local school districts were hiring people. I was fortunate to work with Department of Public Social Services (DPSS-Chatsworth). I learned so much about government programs and funding participants who needed assistance. So many people who came into the office were once giants in their field, then all of a sudden their companies closed and they were homeless! They needed assistance, medical insurance, food stamps and often a motel to live in. These experiences made me realize, without love, support, compassion of family and friends a difficult situation can be a lot harder.
I taught US Citizenship and tutorial classes at La Hermandad Mexicana in
Panorama City, CA. I liked working with people who were serious about becoming American Citizens. My students would come after a long day of work, to study Civics, Government, and be ready to take the test. Many of my students had a hard time understanding English, but with diligence and hard work, all my students passed. They are now American Citizens. As an immigrant in this country, the greatest accomplishment is the American Citizenship because it proves that you are an official member of this great country.
I will continue to give back to my community by doing Educational related Community service projects. I believe by giving back so many lives will be reached and touched.