Dubai: A short video of a Dubai college student singing a Frank Sinatra classic in the middle of class has gone viral, garnering more than a million view on social media and earning praise for his musical talent. The teacher, on the other hand, did not feel offended and was widely praised for integrating tolerance in his class.
The incident happened a couple of days ago during a Humanities class by Dr. Rex Venard Bacarra, dean of General Education and professor of Philosophy at American College of Dubai.
Bacarra told Gulf News he was giving examples on social contract by English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, when his 17-year old Egyptian student, Ameer Elsayed Hashem, started belting out the intro from Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.
“My students got shocked – they didn’t know how to react and were probably waiting for my reaction or if I’m going to reprimand Hashem. I really didn’t like being disrupted, but they also knew too well that I am a great supporter of excellence through hard work,” said Bacarra, a Filipino expat, who was seen in the video encouraging Hashem to finish the first verse of the song.
“I enjoyed it. It was fantastic. With a ‘Amy Winehousey’ voice like that, who wouldn’t. I just wished he (Hashem) finished the song,” added Bacarra.
The entire class gave Hesham a big round of applause while Bacarra, being true to his profession as a Philosophy professor, found beauty in the disruption.
Bacarra shared the clip that was posted by Hashem on his social media account.
“Most of the comments were about Hesham’s beautiful voice and how brave he was while many also commented how I reacted as a professor – praising me for being calm and appreciative,” said Bacarra.
He added: “Some people compared me with other teachers who would have probably kicked out Hesham for disrupting the class. But I found it perplexing. Why would I get angry?”
“On the contrary, I was happy. It was a beautiful randomness; a joyful disturbance. Hesham mustered enough confidence to sing in my class, while I was giving a lecture. It would take a great deal of bravery to even speak in my class during recitation, and to ‘creatively’ disrupt me was not an offense. It showed the quality of a determined soul,” Bacarra underlined.
“I am strict, make no mistake. I instill discipline as I believe in education that builds character. But I’m also liberal and a free-thinker that’s why I encourage my students to voice out their opinions without fear or prejudice. I want them to be creative and see them blossom into greatness,” he added.
Hesham, for his part, told Gulf News he is grateful to Bacarra for letting him express his thoughts.
The song itself was his paean to the Filipino professor who has inspired him to chase his dreams.
“Dr Rex (Bacarra) is very popular in campus. He is a disciplinarian but a well-loved professor who honestly supports talented people. I sang in class as a dare by my classmates and I also wanted to test if Dr Rex would appreciate my voice,” he said.
“I was nervous but after singing the first line and seeing Dr Rex not stopping me, I continued to finish the first verse of the song. I got a good round of applause and I uploaded the video clip on TikTok. The next day, the video went viral. It was shared on social media and my original post got almost 1.2 million views,” added Hesham, who discovered he has a knack for singing when he was 11 years old.
Hesham said his antic in class was not only a validation that he can carry a tune but it also gave him a major boost of confidence.
He said: “I think this year is going to be my year. To paraphrase the song, I really feel my heart is filled with song and I can sing forevermore. The million views I got made me feel like I already flew to the moon and back.”
‘Fly Me to the Moon’
Written in 1954 by Bart Howard, was originally titled ‘In Other Words’. Kaye Ballard made the first recording of the song the year it was written. But it was Frank Sinatra who made it popular and his 1964 version was closely associated with the NASA Apollo missions to the Moon. A copy of the song was played on a portable cassette player on the Apollo 10 mission which orbited the Moon and also on Apollo 11 before the first landing on the Moon in 1969.