May 27, 2013
When I look back on the things I’ve done in my life that I found scary or fearful, I think this experience ranks at the top. I was anxious when at age 24, I moved halfway across the country to a city where I knew no one. That experience, and the friends I met then, played a profound part of shaping my life, of who I am today. I never regretted taking that giant step—a small town Oklahoma girl up and leaving family and all things familiar. Many of the people I met are still friends today, 15 years later.
Next, I quit my well paying banking job at the age of 30. I was back in school, working on a special education M. ED. degree. Again, I was fearful. I didn’t yet have a teaching job, but I just up and quit my steady job with benefits. I know quitting a job when you do not yet have a job is not one of the best professional moves, but I consider it a leap of faith. I was hired for my first teaching job about a month later, when teacher in-service had already begun. I started the next day and never looked back. That first year was difficult, but again I am so thankful for taking that leap. The students and families I have met along the way have enriched my life. I am able to count several parents of my former students as friends today. This year, two of my first students are graduating from high school at the age of 22. Another is graduating at 19. Yet another that I taught after moving back to OK is finished his 5th year of high school and will be moving on to adulthood. Teaching individuals with special needs is what I was meant to do, though I did not find my way here directly. Thank goodness for leaps of faith.
Finally, and the most frightening, is this experience. Walking away from CPI with my host family, the place I will sleep for the next two weeks, was frightening. They do not speak English. I barely speak any Spanish. Talk about a leap of faith!
I wonder what my reflections years from now will be on this experience?
I expect I will be able to look back, much as I have on those other frightening experiences, and be thankful I took that leap of faith. I think I will gain an extension of mi familia, both with this family and my next in Heredia. I hope to one day return and actually be able to have a conversation, unlike now when I am saying words but without any hint of proper grammar. And while I hope to learn enough Spanish to be functional, I think the still greater thing that will be gained is the experience to live in another culture whose values appear so different from ours in the USA.
Residential street in La Fortuna