Maissa Trabilsy on Michael Jackson and Greece

Noodle Expert Maissa Trabilsy discusses the ways in which Greece is a goldmine for learning and leisure alike, what she learned from Michael Jackson about individuality, and not worrying about what others think of her.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

I would definitely pick Michael Jackson to be my teacher for a year! He inspired me from a very young age not to be ashamed of who I am, but to embrace all of my uniqueness. I would love to learn more about having stage presence, because even as a teacher, I still struggle with public speaking. I would love to learn more about working the stage and about how he gained the courage as a boy to be a performer. I hope he would inspire a fearless confidence in me.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

One small piece of advice that had a big impact on my life is "Don't worry about how others think of you." I have always danced to the beat of my own drum, and as a child, I thought I was weird. I remember thinking that I needed to change if I wanted people to like me. However, once I received that one little piece of advice, I realized that genuine people will like me for who I am, and those are the people I want to surround myself with. I stopped worrying about others' opinions of me, and started doing what I wanted. Until this day, if I want to wear my Michael Jackson glove to class, I do it without any hesitation.

Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?

I would definitely send that student to Greece, just because Greece has so much to offer: beauty, history, tradition, academia, everything! I believe that Greece can be a great relaxation spot as well as an adventurous journey through history. No matter what a student's interests are, she will discover them in Greece.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

As a child, I struggled a lot in school because of a speech impediment. A lot of my teachers labeled me as requiring special ed without even properly assessing the situation. I recall almost failing the third grade (based on my low test scores), but due to my parents' intervention, I was promoted. I remember feeling like I had to prove myself, that I had to work extra hard to prove to everyone that I was not going anywhere. I think at that moment my strong work ethnic was instilled.

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

I want to inspire youth to chase after their goals and dreams, and not settle for anything less. I believe that as a teacher, I can assist a child in her education, as well as be a mentor. I want to touch a child's life in a positive way, exactly how my fourth-grade teacher touched mine. It is definitely a lot more difficult than I expected, dealing with youth coming from various backgrounds. I had to learn very quickly that not every child will respond to me in the same way, and that reaction was okay. I just needed to approach them differently.

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