Sunday, May 29, 2011

A lot can happen in 365 days!

I graduated from college a year ago today. The past year has been an extensive 365 days of trial and error, success, let down’s, excitement, stress, and much more. But, above all, it has been an incredible year of learning…not the kind of learning that requires my face planted into a textbook, trying to understand themes in literary theory (turns out, I can’t do that). Instead, I have been learning about myself, something I never thought would really happen the way it did.
Throughout the last month of college and the next 3 months, all I did was apply for jobs.  My heart literally ached for a position in International Education. Following my semester in New Zealand, the idea of working in study abroad became the biggest motivation in my life. It made me happy, I loved talking about it, and I thought I had what it took to score an entry-level position. 70+ applications later and I was out of luck. I was crabby, frustrated, upset, and I was emotionally and mentally exhausted. Then, Kishwaukee College happened. I had applied for a part-time secretary position in one of the Dean’s office’s, and well, they liked me! Working at Kish has been so much fun! I have met amazing people – people who have turned out to be incredible role models and very good friends, and I have enjoyed working in and around education. International Education would just have to wait. I was happy here.
Let’s flashback a little bit. Back in the day, I had planned on becoming a 1st grade teacher. Once getting into college, I changed my mind and decided to study journalism. After my semester in NZ, I had found my calling: study abroad. Senior year, 2 of my roommates were elementary education majors. Whether they were writing lesson plans or student teaching, I told myself that I could NEVER and would NEVER be a teacher. Ha…ha…ha.
Back to 2011. I JUST FINISHED (a few weeks ago) TEACHING A COLLEGE WRITING CLASS! I know, right? Didn’t see that coming, did ya? It was incredible. I loved it. It was a huge, HUGE challenge, and for the first two weeks, I had no idea what I was doing. My class consisted of 13 of the funniest, nicest, silliest group of kids (turns out I can’t call them that – they were either my age or older. Funny. Weird?) They didn’t do their work most of the time, but when they did, they were happy to be there.  Turns out, teaching is fun! Working at Kish has opened so many doors for me, and because of my English degree, I was able to teach a class and well, I DID IT! Cool.
I haven’t had enough. I miss teaching my students. I miss seeing their faces light up when they see how much their writing has changed. I can’t be done yet…which is why I chose to apply to WorldTeach, a volunteer teaching, non-profit organization that sends people to countries and islands all over the world! For 11 months, I will get to be a teacher in a high school somewhere in American Samoa. As of right now, I have no idea what I will be teaching (please, please, please let me teach English. I still have to count on my fingers – I cannot teach math). I could not be more excited, thrilled, nervous, and ready to start my next big adventure.
WorldTeach is an awesome organization and they, along with their teachers (soon to be me!), are doing great things for students around the world. The link below will take you to the WorldTeach website. Not only can you read about who they are, but you can see all of the places where people can teach. Maybe it’s something you’ll want to do someday…for most of the programs, you can be up to 75 years old to go! And a huge plus, you don’t have to have a degree in education or a teaching certificate (perfect)!
I know I just wrote a book, but I feel that it was necessary for you to really understand what’s been going on in my life the past year. I’ll always be learning about myself, but right now, I have learned that who I want to be at this time in my life is a teacher in American Samoa.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A [BIG] move to a [tiny] island

I am moving to American Samoa…not Samoa (that island will be my neighbor), and definitely not Somalia (wrong ocean and country, folks). Basically, I’m moving to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Cool!
Here’s a glimpse of where I’m going:
As you can see, American Samoa is a chain that consists of 5 inhabitable islands (Tutuila, Aunu’u, Ta’u, Ofu, and Olosega). There are also 2 uninhabitable coral atolls (Rose and Swains). Makes it seem big, right?
Here’s a link to Google Maps - type in American Samoa, explore a little (try to pronounce some of the names of villages - that will give you a laugh, for sure!), and then zoom out of the map – after a few clicks, you tell me how big you think the chain is.
American Samoa is not so big anymore, is it? In fact, it’s TEENSY TINY! I really am serious when I say that I’m moving to the middle of an ocean.
Why you ask?
Well, until next time, I will tell you that it’s for a very exciting, challenging, and life-changing reason.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Off I TWO months

On July 10, 2011, I will be leaving Sycamore and flying away to Los Angeles. Goodbye to the flat, comfortable, Midwestern lifestyle. Goodbye to my incredibly supportive and loving family and cats. Goodbye to my amazing friends (whether they’re in Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Mexico and even Panama!) Goodbye to the co-workers, and more importantly, friends I have made while working at Kishwaukee College – you have no idea how much of an inspiration you have been to me. As much of a bummer as goodbye’s are – I won’t be leaving forever! Since I am going to California, I feel this is the one time when I’m truly allowed to quote Arnold and say, “I’ll be back.”

Okay, so I’ll be in LA. Then what?

On July 11, 2011, I’ll be leaving LA, aka USA soil, only to 5+ hours later, land in more USA soil: HONOLULU! I will definitely not complain about that layover. A few hours in Hawaii are better than no hours in Hawaii, right? Later that afternoon, I’ll once again depart USA soil, only to arrive in more USA (territory) soil, which happens to sit on a teensy tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Talofa, American Samoa.