Teacher Dee, aka Darrion Willis, is a 27 year-old who was raised in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the United States. In Washington D.C.’s Ward 8, hundreds of violent crimes each year leave people forever injured, emotionally devastated, or dead. Every day, Darrion walked to school through gangs on corners, around tear-down boarded up houses, and past homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk.
Darrion rose out of this with help of his watch guard and loving mother and the caring teachers at Thurgood Marshall Academy, a public charter school located in the heart of the heartache described above. After graduating from this high school and then with honors from University of Vermont, Darrion took his gifts to distant corners of the world, one of which he lives in now.
Today, Darrion teaches at a public school in Vietnam. Tomorrow, he may well be mayor of D.C., bringing all that he has endured, embraced, and embellished back to his hometown. As he is doing in Southeast Asia, when he returns to his hood he will make a world of difference.
According to Darrion, here is how he is doing it and how you can too:
“The more you open your eyes to life beyond your nation’s borders, the more you will unlock your true potential. I was bullied and ostracized. But I did not let that deter me from my goal. I believe that there are various types of Black men but the media depicts us viciously wrong. I come from an impoverished neighborhood where I was dealt a crappy hand. But with the support of my family, I was able to defy the odds.
I thought being from southeast D.C. was rough. But, there are places around the world where I was in disbelief because of how people live. There were many tears I shed for the countless children on the streets of Bangkok and Laos. I know I can’t help everyone, but I can help many. I hope to inspire people to help eliminate poverty around the world. Humility, compassion, and hard work are the way.”