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Teaching Is My Calling

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OPRAH TEACHING
George Burns/Harpo Studios

It's my favorite time of year, for all the obvious fa la la reasons, but even more so because I get to fulfill my calling as teacher.

As I've mentioned in O Magazine, I've known since I was a barefooted young girl playing school on the Mississippi dirt road that ran adjacent to my grandmother's front yard that I had an inkling for storytelling and teaching. At the time I was trying to convince my older rowdy cousins the significance of the Bible tale of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego.

That inkling was the acorn that evolved into the oak of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." And all future branches to follow with OWN.

Teaching is my calling. I delight in seeing someone's eyes light up with the spark of understanding. Especially when that understanding will enhance their life.

This happened daily on "The Oprah Show" for 25 years -- the greatest impact happening to people I've never met. That in itself is rewarding. But the real blast for me is one-on-one.

At the end of each school year in South Africa -- which is right now -- I teach a class to the 12th graders at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. It's my last chance before they move out into the world of college and beyond to try and cram everything I wish someone had told me into a week's curriculum... aptly called Life 101. If I had more time, it could definitely be a yearlong course. But because my obligations are as extensive as yours, I make the most of the week, highlighting my top five favorite lessons and starting with the Invictus poem I learned to recite at age 8:

1. "You are the master of your fate and captain of your soul."

2. You become what you believe, not what you wish for, and every choice makes it so.

3. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. Character or lack thereof always shows itself early.

4. My creed based on the third law of motion in physics: What you put out comes back always, in all ways.

5. Trust your gut. It's your spiritual GPS.

I begin each class with a meditation. Silence. Then a song by Sinead O'Connor: "The Healing Room."

My primary goal is to leave each girl with a sense of self-worth and well-being that allows her to follow her instincts and trust her own wisdom.

That's the same goal I hold for all my work -- be it 25 years on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," on OWN, in O Magazine or on this platform on The Huffington Post. My greatest desire is for people to bear witness and connect to the light of hope, possibility, and fulfillment. Everything we're searching for shows up in full force when we learn to let the light in.

We all are vessels for it; our level of recognition determines how brightly we shine.

We've already done our best -- teachers and staff -- to prepare our girls academically and to be socially responsible as they begin the next chapter of college life.

What excites me about this final week is to say out loud what I consider vital information. Helping them to see there's a light inside that can never be dimmed, and only grows stronger when nourished and cherished -- and most important -- shared with others.

My mission for teaching this class is to let every girl recognize it for herself.