Teacher Spotlight: U.S. history teacher Darrion Siler


Daniel Robinson

U.S. History teacher Darrion Siler, class of ’01, discusses President Johnson’s impeachment trial with his class. Siler is in his first year teaching at JC.

With only a motorcycle to his name and an open mind to the world of Buddhism, Hinduism, and meditation, U.S. history teacher Darrion Siler, class of ‘01, traveled around India, Thailand, and Europe in an effort to find his calling in life.

Siler graduated from Saint Mary’s College of Maryland with a major in philosophy and a minor in Asian studies. “I’ve always been curious about the intangibles in life and more about the world I find myself living in,” Siler said.

According to Siler, he minored in Asian studies out of pure interest in the Buddhist culture. “I took a class in world religions and that’s what got me interested. In college I found Buddhism, and I learned a whole new way of life,” Siler said.

After college, Siler moved to Thailand for six months, studied the economics of Southeast Asia, and practiced Engaged Buddhism for economic justice. He also worked at Moo Baan Dek, a non-profit school for orphans and troubled youth. “In Thailand, teachers are considered to be guides, not necessarily authority figures,” Siler said. Aside from teaching, he worked for different people around the community in exchange for room and board.

“[Thailand] was my own personal discovery and experimentation,” Siler said.

After Thailand, Siler lived in India for four months studying the origins of different religions. “I studied Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism,” Siler said. In India, Siler bought a motorcycle and lived in the foothills of the Himalayas, working for different people in exchange for a place to stay. He talked to the local priests, gaining the different perspectives of the people. “Most people are very similar. There’s a lot more that makes us similar than different,” Siler said.

4,453 miles away, Siler could be spotted hitting a homerun in Belgium and showing off his artwork. After his time in Asia, Siler lived in Europe for five years playing for different baseball teams in the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Germany and Spain. In Brussels, Siler had an art gallery showing for his art, mixed media photography and poetry with his friend Patrick Allen.

Siler encountered several different people all these countries, but it was during a quick getaway in Prague at a youth hostel where he met his wife. “It was total serendipity meeting her,” Siler said.

He had a long distance relationship with his wife when she moved back to Lisbon to start her own business. Siler called up the Portuguese Baseball and Softball Federation and requested a transfer in order to be closer to her and help her with her business. The transfer was approved, and he became a head coach for Portugal’s baseball team.

Over the years of living in all these places, Siler has picked the culture as well as the languages of several places. He speaks Portuguese, Flemish, Dutch, French, and a bit of Spanish.

Not many people know that Siler also played a fisherman in a French fish commercial. “I was represented by a quick casting [and] modeling agency through my wife. Apparently, I look like a fisherman,” Siler said.

Right before he went on his self-discovery journey in Thailand, Siler was in a rock band called ‘The Swaggers’. It consisted of him and a few of his college friends “just messing around.” They went on tour around the Philadelphia, New York, and D.C. area.

‘The Swaggers’ released an album, and Siler also collaborated with some other musicians on a blues album. “I sung a few folk and Americana songs, but I have yet to drop a mixtape,” Siler said.

Siler feels lucky to be back in his hometown. “Bel Air is my home. I grew up here. My colleagues are supportive and helpful, and I feel like I’m making good connections with the students,” Siler said.

You can find Siler on the baseball field in the next couple of months coaching the varsity team and occasionally doing some meditation with them as well.

Azanae Barrow is a Community Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com