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The year was 2013, inside of a seventh grade pre-algebra classroom at Bunsold Middle School, a brand new middle school building specifically built for seventh and eighth graders in Marysville, Ohio. The classroom was so quiet that you could hear your own heart beating and mind racing. The students mouths were agaped, utterly shocked by the news they just heard from their favorite pre-algebra teacher, Mr. Given. Mr. Given would be quitting his job in a few weeks in order for his family and himself to become missionaries, more specifically, United Methodist missionaries, in India. Mr. Given, his wife and two kids would sell all of their belongings, except minimal clothing, and move to India, bringing along only basic necessities. After he relayed the news to us, he was stringent and pleaded for us to not post anything to social media, as 80% of the population in India are Hindu and are very spiteful towards members of other religions, even killing and persecuting them at times. Mr. Given explained how he would do his missionary work in private at first, only reaching out to a limited number of willing Indian civilians, but eventually open up and be more public once they settled into their new home. Thankfully though, Mr. Given would write us once a month and update us on his mission work. He explained how his family lived solely off of donations through their church, so money would not be an issue or distraction them from accomplishing their mission. Throughout the year, Mr. Given and his family were able to accomplish some extraordinary tasks, like learning to speak and understand Hindi, which they knew none of before they left. Another accomplishment he was able to achieve in the first few months was providing free tutoring and offering help in English classes to eager students. Mr. Given has lived in India for the last five years and is still in India to this day. He still sends out his monthly newsletters and does not plan on returning to the United States anytime soon. Since the first few months, Mr. Given has been able to build a christian church in India, although it is heavily frowned upon by local Hindu’s. Mr. Given was also able to purchase a small apartment for one of his church attendees whose house was destroyed in a fire through extra funds he had through donations from his church in the United States.
Mr. Given has always been my favorite math teacher, if not my favorite teacher in general. His selfless act of leaving behind everything he knew and cherished about Marysville, Ohio is the type of selflessness I strive for each day. His selfless act has forever changed the way I see others and the world around me. He changed my view of the world when he always put his students and fellow faculty’s needs in front of his own, which is a life lesson I try to utilize each and every day when around my peers, family and in the community. Mr. Given also taught me that there is more to life than money and a good occupation, in order to be truly happy, you need to do something that is fulfilling inside. For him, that is going to India and teaching underprivileged citizens about the gospel and love of God, for me that is helping people with the small stuff every day, such as tutoring my classmates and younger brother, volunteering at my local church, the same one Mr. Given also went to, and participating in high school and club soccer. Although Mr. Given is not physically in Marysville anymore, his life lessons and teaching legacy will continue to provide help and encouragement as we try to figure out the world around us.