Globetrotting math teacher spends summer in Asia

Math teacher Mr. Colin Rabago reflects on his summer journeys around India and Hong Kong
From the sky terrace of Hong Kongs highest skyscraper. From L to R: Laura Rabago (Mr. Rabagos sister), Adam Rabago (Mr. Rabagos brother), Peiyu Rabago (Adams wife) and Mr. Rabago.
From the sky terrace of Hong Kong’s highest skyscraper. From L to R: Laura Rabago (Mr. Rabago’s sister), Adam Rabago (Mr. Rabago’s brother), Peiyu Rabago (Adam’s wife) and Mr. Rabago.
COLIN RABAGO

For many students and staff members on campus, this past summer was filled with rest, travels and fun memories. And for math teacher Mr. Colin Rabago, summer vacation meant long plane rides, good food and camels. Lots of camels. 

After teaching summer school for most of June, Mr. Rabago boarded a plane and headed off to Hong Kong. He stayed there for a week before leaving for India, where he explored the towns of Bangalore, Goa and Mumbai for two weeks.

While this trip was flooded with tourist traps and classic must-see destinations, there was more on his mind when booking the trip than just getting to see the Taj Mahal. 

“My brother lives in Hong Kong, so I went and visited him,” he said. “My old college roommate lives in India, so he was just like, ‘Hey, come on over.’ I was like, ‘All right, sure. That sounds fun.’”

For many travelers, a trip of this nature would take several months to plan and think through, but Mr. Rabago considers himself a “go-with-the-flow” traveler. He says he likes to see where his travels take him, and often lives by this mantra. 

Mr. Rabago loves traveling, getting out and exploring. Whether that means driving to the grocery store or journeying around the globe, he finds ways to fulfill his adventurous spirit.

“Wherever you can, whenever you can,” he said. “Whether it’s the beach or the mountains or San Diego, just go somewhere. Traveling is the best experience for anything.” 

Math teacher Mr. Colin Rabago traveled to southeastern Asia during the summer break, exploring locations in Japan, Hong Kong, and India. “Traveling is the best experience that anyone can have,” he said. “Just seeing some things in person gives you more experiences in our great world.” (THE MIRROR | VALENTINA ARIAS)

He tries to encourage both himself and his students to go out and explore the world.

“I think traveling in general is probably the best knowledge that you can get as a person,” he said. “Not only are you exposed to different cultures, but you’re exposed to different foods and you’re exposed to different lifestyles. You get to see how people live differently from the way you’re used to thinking.”

That was his experience in Hong Kong. 

“There’s so many skyscrapers in Hong Kong,” He said, “It feels like you’re living in the future because it’s so modernly developed. In L.A., most of the buildings are one to two-stories in general, but it’s spread out over a large area. Whereas places like Hong Kong, it’s all compact.”

The sharp contrast from high-tech Hong Kong to rural India came with its fair share of culture shock. 

In India there are over a quarter of a million camels. In rural areas of India, such as those visited by Mr. Rabago, camels have the right of way on the road and are allowed to travel on freeways just like cars.

“You have to avoid them on the roads as you’re driving,” he said.

The citizens of the cities he visited were in for quite the shock in return.

“Especially the rural places in India, my friend told me they’ve never seen white people before,” he said. “They were taking selfies with me and my friend. It was just a really funny moment.”

Mr. Rabago also shared how his summer travels impacted his views on education. He realized that there is so much more to the world than what is seen in L.A. He is currently working on incorporating the things he learned abroad into his personal and professional life, and strives to embrace the world around him. 

“I like to tell the stories of what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen to my students in general,” he said “That way, even though I personally had a change in perspective, I can share my own views or differences that I see in the classroom.”

Mr. Rabago knows his students couldn’t imagine being without their phones or living in a world filled with camels, but he still tries to expose his students to other realities.

“Hopefully, I get some students thinking,” he said.

The more he travels and learns about different cultures, the more he wants to keep traveling and learning.

“There’s an old saying, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know about the world,” he said. “Just having the ability to gain that perspective from different people’s lives helps me see and relate to people from those countries.”

Mr. Rabago advises anybody planning to travel to either Hong Kong or India in the future to be up-to-date with their shots and to be careful about where they buy food. And, most importantly, be prepared for some serious heat. 

“In Hong Kong, the heat is killer,” he said. “It’s really humid in general. Same thing with India.”

In the future he hopes to travel to Japan. Mr. Rabago loves everything about Japan, including the food, culture and architecture.

“I really like Asian food in general, but Japanese food like ramen, sushi and just the style of living especially,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place there. The trees and the lifestyle, it’s just very quaint. I find it magical in some places.”

Mr. Rabago urges individuals considering traveling abroad to just take the plunge and book the trip.

“Traveling is the best experience that anyone can have,” he said. “Just seeing some things in person gives you more experiences in our great world.”

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Madison Thacker
Madison Thacker, Arts/Entertainment Editor
Madison Thacker is junior who's embarking on her first year in journalism. Her journey through the performing arts started at just 5 years old, and today, she's ever-present in the performing arts magnet at VNHS. Beyond the spotlight, Madison has dedicated over eight years to the Girl Scouts, earning both bronze and silver awards for her commitment. As high school nears its end, Madison's plans point to a UC education, where she plans to major in education and minor in child development, shaping young minds for a brighter future.
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