My friend Aubrey might not remember this but….
An afternoon in the Spring of 1994, probably sometime in April, my last semester at Grinnell College, seated on a mound off of State Highway 6, probably having ice cream or frozen banana, watching the sunset, watching the sky turn amazing hues of red, pink, green, yellow etc….Aubrey had asked, “So, what do you want to do [after graduation]?”
I remember telling her, “I want to go see the world!”
Back in 1987, a few years before I had arrived in Grinnell, I had applied for a United World College scholarship because I had wanted to learn about the world and people. I didn’t win the scholarship for which I had competed with my Xaverian friends, and I had gone to India to continue my further studies. But less than three months before the start of college, at the very last minute, I got a lucky placement at the United World College of the Adriatic (UWCAD) in Italy. Two years at UWCAD among people from around 65 different countries, I learned a great deal about other countries, other people, other cultures etc. — as well as about my own self.
After UWCAD, it was Grinnell College in the US, realizing a dream I had nurtured from when I had been a fifth grader and the college I had applied to on a whim!! In the US too I had again befriended people from a number of different countries. I had even taken a class on Anthropology to satisfy my thirst for knowledge about other people and their cultures etc. Even as a foreign student in the country, I participated in the Study-abroad Program, spending a semester at Lancaster University in the UK.
By the Spring of 1994, when I had expressed my desire to explore the world, having learned a great deal about and from friends of different nationalities — about their countries, their languages, their cultures, their religions, their food, their music etc. — more than anything else, I realized there was even more to learn. What I wanted was to learn about them by living and working in — and visiting — more of their own countries.
BUT I had no clue how I was going to do that. I had made no plans towards that at all, and, what’s more, I had no plans to actually plan anything to that end! I hadn’t really done anything about it at all. And even after making that declaration to Aubrey, I really didn’t do anything to that end.
AND YET, about five months later, I ended up in Italy, starting a career as an international teacher. Just four months after I had shared my desire with Aubrey, I heard from a former teacher about a teaching job in Italy. When I submitted my application for it, it had been the ONLY international job I had applied for! But, within about a month of that, I found myself back in Italy!
And for the next 19 years, I worked in 10 different countries spanning five continents, lived in fourteen cities, and traveled in another 30 or so countries, as an international chemistry/science teacher!
What do you think?