A Kiwi Indian teacher in Auckland has recently completed his half-century being an educator, calling his passion for teaching and impart knowledge as his motivation that kept him going in this vocation for five-decades.
The reason Godrej Engineer, 71, now retired, is being featured in The Indian Weekender’s special section ‘Migrant Tales’ that celebrates the journey of migrant Kiwi Indians living in New Zealand who have dedicated their sweat and blood to make their mark in ‘the land of the long white cloud’ is his incredible spirit and determination as a teacher in shaping the next generation of students.
Starting his Kiwi journey as a dishwasher in an Italian Restaurant in 1993, the year he moved to New Zealand with his family looking for a brighter future, Mr Godrej has come a long way in successfully completing his half-century as an educator.
Even before moving to New Zealand, Mr Godrej already had 24 years of working experience teaching in several big institutions across different parts of India and Papua New Guinea. From 1969 to 1989, he performed several roles in various schools in Calcutta, India, such as senior teacher at St Xavier’s Collegiate School, lecturer in English in St Xavier’s College, Principal of Saifee High School, Principal of Sardar Hoshang Dastur Boy’s School Pune from 1989 to 1991 and then moved to New Zealand.
Mr Godrej does not shy away from saying that before he secured a job as a teacher in Auckland, he sent almost 300 job applications and got rejected every time. As advised by some of his friends, who were primary school teachers, Mr Engineer completed a refresher course for six months from Auckland College of Education. He upgraded his skills attending a number of Professional Development Courses offered by the Auckland College of Education Kohia Teacher Centre including a paper in Te Reo Maori which he passed with distinction.
Mr Godrej used every possible opportunity in his way to find at least one small role to get him kickstarted in his vocation of teaching.
He met a Justice of Peace for some personal work and told his plight, who turned out to be the principal of a primary school and things changed for him ever since. With the first chance of vacancy advertised by the school, Mr Godrej applied for the position and secured his first teaching job in New Zealand on a year’s contract as ‘a day to day call relief teacher’.
Later, while at Riverina Primary School, he secured a permanent position as an English language and literature teacher after the school was overwhelmed with his work.
Since then, there has been no stopping to Mr Godrej’s ascending career as a teacher. He also taught at Mangere Central Primary School, and Martin Hautus Institute, Some of the subjects that Mr Godrej taught the students were Written Language, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, Art, Maori, Dance, Drama and Physical Education.
Mr Godrej considers his life as an educator rewarding, and it gave him a sense of true identity and purpose in life. His passion for imparting life values to the next generation gave him innovative ideas to conduct classes and try new methods of teaching- something that the students both enjoyed and learned.
“An extensive flow of knowledge and values imparted to the students for which there is no substitute."
Mr Godrej has a Bachelor’s degree in Education (B Ed), MA in English, and is a Double Licentiate of Trinity College of London, in Speech and Drama and Effective Speaking. He is also the recipient of several recognitions and commendations from the Education Review Officers of The Ministry of Education in the various states of India.
He has acted in TV serials, written scripts for documentaries, and Indian TV channel Doordarshan programmes, associated with the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), produced and directed numerous plays during his tenure as a teacher.
Even after completing 50 years in the education field, combined together in India, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand and retiring, Mr Godrej has still associated himself with education helping students with any kind of assistance required, and he is also often gets called in school he taught as Day Call Relief Teacher.
On the family front, Mr Godrej is married to Navaz Engineer for 46 years and has three children who are successful in their careers –one living in New Zealand, one in Australia and one in the USA.
Mr Godrej acknowledges his wife Navaz as his backbone and source of encouragement who stood by him through his low times and held him strong and high in his life.
“It has been a soul-satisfying journey for me,” Mr Godrej proudly adds.