Rafael Gonzalez, a philosophy professor at MCC has worked in various jobs before coming to MCC. He has worked in a monastery, been a missionary and served in Iraq for the military.
Gonzalez said he first joined the military so he could give something back to his country, since his parents were Cuban immigrants who had been turned away from other countries during the Castro regime.
He said his parents were poor, but instilled patriotism in him.
Gonzalez said, “I actually joined [in] 2000, so this was before 9/11. I joined before the whole war on terrorism. When they did call me in 2006, they activated me since I was a reservist. I didn’t want to go, but I had to. I am glad I went though. I was [in] transportation, so I worked one of the more dangerous jobs in Iraq.”
Gonzalez said one of the most eye-opening moments while serving in the military was witnessing one of his friends die. A convoy of people, including Gonzalez, were transporting gasoline and diesel. While doing this, his friend’s truck ran over an improvised explosive device (IED). Since his friend was a gunner, he was instantly killed due to being exposed.
After that, Gonzalez said he became a missionary.
He said it was similar to the military in terms of discipline. He wanted to serve God and was thinking about becoming a priest.
Gonzalez said he worked in Peru and Bolivia.
He said, “The attitude of the poor there is amazing. For example, there was one man who lived near us. He lived in a shack he made and he couldn’t even lay down in it. When he laid down, his feet would stick out. He had his own farm, and he would work collecting wood and selling it to businesses as firewood. I learned later on, after knowing him for a couple weeks, that he was blind. I don’t know how blind he was, his Spanish wasn’t that good, so we asked him how he got around. He got his steps calculated. His attitude wasn’t a complaining attitude but a gracious and humble one.”
Gonzalez said the monastery he lived in was in Spain. He served in the monastery in between two stints as a missionary.
Gonzalez said the work was different and involved a lot of prayer. He would pray with the monks and studied religion there as well. Gonzalez said the life there was very contemplative.
He said, “I always liked to teach. I didn’t think I was going to be a teacher, but I did always like to teach. Growing up, people would tell me ‘Oh, you are teaching me’ almost complaining. I guess it is something of my nature. I like the more philosophical studies but I definitely had it in me to teach.”
He said he decided to become a teacher because he wanted to settle down after traveling in various jobs and studying abroad.
Gonzalez said in Spain he studied at the monastery for six years. He was able to transfer those classes to a college in Puerto Rico where he got his bachelors in philosophy. Gonzalez received his Masters in psychology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut and then began pursuing his teaching degree.