Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Hay


Brandon Burns, Photojournalist

Every person’s path in life takes them to extraordinary places.  Some of us get to discover brand new worlds through long explorations to distant lands, some will be apart of new experiences here at home. One person who has experienced all of those things is one of our own faculty members, Mr. Hay. i had the chance to sit down with him and talk about his life in Ethiopia and the amazing life that he’s lead.

Q: What was life like for you and your family in ethiopia?

A: We lived for the first ten years of my life in (Addis Ababa) which is a very poor city. The average income their was about 25 dollars a year, so the people their were day to day, you know, two meals a day things like that. For most of my life their we didn’t have running water, we had electricity for three hours a day when we ran our generator, we didn’t have running water. we did have a car but most of the roads weren’t able to be travelled on with them, so you either road donkeys or horses or you simply walked where you needed to be. i mean to americans, it would be exotic you know, big game hunting, big mountains and desert but to me it was normal.

Q: If you could redo your childhood, would you still have grown up in ethiopia?

A: I would have because i am what a lot of people refer to as a third world kid, which means i have both eastern and western perspectives as well as a lot of psychological idiosyncrasies that I developed living their. There is a very deep inborn sense of purpose, their isn’t and inborn sense of security because their was so much insecurity. The closest thing i could relate it to would be the military because their is so much movement there that you never knew where home was going to be. i would do things differently there, but i would want to live their again.

A: When you moved to canada, what was life like for you and what were the big culture shocks?

Q: One of the things I remember most was just the huge crowds. I left ethiopia when i was thirteen and we landed in new york in new york harbor. i had to take a subway train to union station the crowds just frightened me. Then  when i went to the grocery stores, the number of choices where very difficult for me to handle. I can handle one choice of mustard, not 16. And then finally the unfamiliarity of it all, which was actually very scary.

Q: In class you told how you are a recovering addict. Does that still affect you?

A: When I was in the Midst of my addiction, i was in a very dark place in my life.I felt a horrible sense of failure, Emotionally exhausted, and a huge amount of self pity. Put all of those things together and i made some very bad choices. I committed wrongs that i have made amends for but it really wrecked havoc on my career path and it was just a very, very dark time for my family as well as myself. Nowadays, i’m much more aware of the triggers. i can now recognize the and take steps against them. In those dark times i used to isolate myself which just caused more problems because the demons that i didn’t face got bigger than they really were. Now i know the things that trigger my addictions and if i see i’m experiencing those problems and triggers are happening i just need to call a friend or go to a meeting. I dont go to twelve step programs often but i do if i feel it is necessary. But now i feel more in control of those things.

Q: Going away form the somberness of that, you talk a lot about your hitch-hiking trips around the world. Is there one that sticks out to you?

A: My Wife and i went backpacking in Cancun before it was made into the tourist attraction. It was so beautiful their. there was a little island of of cancun called Isla Mujeres that was just magnificent. we were told that their was this little coral reef on the other side of the island that had some of the best snorkeling in the world. We were with another couple and on the island as well and we all got into a taxi to go to the reef. we were told that what we could do was to just let the current take us out of the reef when we were done and we would just float back to the other side. So we spent the day snorkeling and than floated back like the guys said. It was actually working really well, we were only like half a mile of of shore when i started to notice we were drifting in the opposite direction. after 20 minutes it looked like we were almost 3 miles off of shore. after an hour another boat came by and offered to help us get back to shore. It was this little fishing boat wit ha captain that tourists can rent for the day as a guide. He helped us on board and showed us below deck. their we met the people who were his charge that day and the were not very nice. they were very rude people. The captain had put together this gorgeous feast of lobster and ceviche that they just refused to eat. he offered it to use and we happily ate it all, i mean we were starving. He dropped us off at the island and took the tourists off to their hotel and after that we actually rented him as our guide for the next 2 days. my wife and i went back there to the coral reef and on the top of the water their was a layer of sun tan lotion which was very sad, cause when we went their it was barely touched. but whenever i think of that trip i cant help but smile.