Our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them
Months of preparing materials, researching schools, reaching out, applying for positions, following up, traveling, interviewing, weighing options…was no joke. In fact, it was more like a full time job, the kind that would cause me to wake up in the middle of the night. This sudden alertness at 3 am reminded me of my waitressing days when I would shoot up in bed, realizing, I forgot to bring that person ketchup!!
This part of the process may not be obvious from the outside, which is why I value including it here. Teaching abroad has its challenges and hard work. Any international teacher will tell you stories about the intense pressure at a job fair, the sweaty handshake with your new employer who will fly you across the world, or the Skype interview that leaves you wondering if it was all real or imagined.
We knew our time was up in Colombia, but we didn’t know where we would go next. We were (too) open to any opportunity that felt right, hesitant to limit ourselves by a particular country or even continent. We seriously pursued schools in Kenya, Brazil, Japan, UAE, Vietnam, Madagascar, Argentina (to name only a few). We felt drawn to Asia, so eventually our list narrowed.
All along the way, there was one school that lingered in our minds. It was a far away thought and a quiet hope that simmered.
One night we sat on our bed together, and Jonathan read the letter from this school’s Founder out loud. Listening brought images to my mind of the inspiring place I worked back in Denver, the place where Jonathan and I first met. A school that believes in learning. A school that stands out among the crowd. A school where we could feel at home again.
After this night, we decided to apply. In fact, we made a pact to apply blindly every year until they wrote us back. We were convinced it was an impossible dream. Despite this, we began to write the first honest and genuine cover letters we had written. Without hesitating, we poured out our beliefs, dreams, and desires. We sent them away, unknowing if positions were even open, unsure if they would receive it, uncertain if it would remain a dream forever.
Two weeks later, I woke up from a deep sleep with the impulse to check my email. I had been experiencing a combination of intuition kicks and anxiety in the night. Schools on the other side of the world would often respond to us in their morning, our night time. I looked at my phone and saw an email from the school, inquiring for Jonathan’s CV. Would I send it over please? Of course I will, and no need to wait until a normal waking hour. I’ll just sneak out of bed and send it to you immediately! This eager excitement must have been construed through my messages, as we landed an interview. The only problem was, it was scheduled right after our job fair.
Meanwhile, we were pursuing several other opportunities. We had interviews that eventually turned into offers. Each time we looked at one another with that knowing look. Of course we would make it work. Of course we would make it enjoyable. Of course it would be a new adventure. But was it right for us? Were our hearts in it? The answer was usually no. We weren’t willing to force something that didn’t feel right, even though we knew we were risking our chances at a job.
When we attended the job fair in Atlanta, the pressure grew more intense. Both candidates and schools were there to make offers and sign contracts. Offers were given with the expectation of an immediate answer. We proceeded cautiously, as we had the most important interview awaiting us.
In hindsight, I believe it was all meant to happen this way. The job fair wasn’t for us to get jobs. It was, however, a sort of “boot camp” of interviewing that gave me practice talking about myself as an educator. From these conversations, I learned more about what was important to me, where my strengths were shown best, and how my educational beliefs are demonstrated through my classroom efforts. By the end, I felt more confident expressing myself.
Once the job fair passed, the night came for our much-anticipated interview. In the middle of the night in a basement in Atlanta, we met the administrators online and shared our values. After a great conversation, I wasn’t surprised that they wanted us at their school. It felt like a mutual fit, and our hearts were truly in it. We laid in bed that night with our eyes glued open and smiles plastered to our faces.
Our answer was an easy yes.
Yes to The Harbour School, a school where we felt in line with our beliefs and at home as educators.
Yes to Hong Kong, a bustling city in heart of Asia known for its international cuisine and the unique mix of skyscrapers and accessible nature.
Yes to the next chapter of our lives that we will step into as newlyweds, in the powerful year of 2019.