How did I get here?
Note: This was written at the beginning of November to a colleague at The Center for Teaching Quality, http://www.teachingquality.org/, an organization I use to work with in the States.
Buenos dias from Costa Rica! I’ve been here just under two months and can barely believe it is the beginning of November. The fan is blowing on me as music wafts in from the apartment just over the way. In true teacher fashion, I thought I’d engage in a little reflective writing to share my journey with you.
Just over a year ago, the opportunity to teach in Costa Rica fell into my lap. I’d scarely begun my fourth year teaching and “It is time for a change!” popped into my head one Saturday early on in the school year.
I gave it scant attention because every school year’s beginning I’d felt both excitement and dread. I’d never meant to be a teacher, had four days to prepare for my first year, nearly quit in my second year and then found my feet and voice in my third and fourth years. Like a child tapping on my shoulder, the idea of change would not relent.
So I listened. Skeptically. I contacted my former grad program to inquire about possibilities in smaller districts around the area or international schools I could contact. This led me to contact a small school in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica near Liberia. Keep in mind my contact was simply an inquiry about how international schools work and what curriculum is used. I was not applying for a position.
Little did I know the joke was on me? About three weeks later after seeing my partner back off to Haiti for his work and my first bout with strep throat, Costa Rica came calling. They wanted to interview me. I was floored and with no thought process whatsoever, said yes. To make a long story short, after 6 hours in total on Skype (over a two day period) I had in front of me a dream career move.
Fast forward a year and a couple months and I am here. I sold almost all my possessions and stuffed the rest in an 8 x 10 storage pod. Put the kittens in carriers, linked arms with my partner and made the leap.
One of the dream scenarios of the school is that it is located on a 200 acre farm. My dream of planting a school garden just happened to be theirs, too. The school year in Costa Rica runs January- December so I haven’t started teaching yet.
Working together with my boss and a local scientist we’ve managed to contact an expert on tropical gardens and permaculture design. I have a permaculture design certificate that has never been used so am a bit rusty. My knowledge of gardening/farming in a tropical climate is near nil. We are in the process of setting up a weekend workshop on permaculture design and tropical organic farming in early December. Then we will lay out the plans and break ground on the garden. My eco geek and edu geek heart is a flutter!
In addition I contacted a nonprofit in the States that helps facilitate solar arrays for schools. It was a shot in the dark contacting them about the possibility of coming to install a solar array at our school. Much to my excitement and surprise they messaged back and are interested! I don’t know where it will lead but the possibility is mind blowing.
So thus ends my first dispatch from exciting new adventures in education. I do hope that this finds you all well. I’ve been watching the Occupy movements and trying to keep up on education policy in the States. From the outside looking in, I see the scales tipping.