I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, I do, however, avidly partake in birthday resolutions. I figure if I’ve managed to make it through one more year then I deserve to give myself some sort of goal to get me through to the next.
That being said, on Tuesday I hit the big 2-8. That’s right ladies and gents, I’m a single 28-year-old gal living in a jungle in Sumatra so due to my living and working situation, my usual raucous festivities were nonexistant. Instead, I got up and went to school and was greeted by 29 first graders singing happy birthday and giving me homemade cards, hugs and declaring their “birthday wishes” for me. It was a welcome start to my day as I knew there would be no birthday cake, no party and no drinks with friends to usher in my new year. (That’s the one unfortunate thing about being the resident baker— while everyone else enjoys birthday cakes baked by you, you rarely receive cake on your own birthday).
Last year at this time I was bidding farewell to my posse in Philadelphia with a blur of cake, presents, hugs, tears and Pabst Blue Ribbon. The day after my birthday, a best buddy and I hopped in a Jeep and drove my posessions to my aunt’s basement in Michigan for storage. Three weeks later I said farewell to my family and boarded a plane to France with a one-way ticket in my hand. I had resolved to stop talking about being a teacher and to pursue becoming one.
12 months later, I have earned a TEFL certification from TEFL Paris and held three different teaching positions teaching everything from first graders to adults. I’ve bummed on couches and traveled in London, Paris, Barcelona, New York City, Java and Bali. I’ve lived and taught in the Pyrenees Mountains and across France, Jersey City and the jungles of Sumatra.
Along the way I learned how hard, how fun, how frustrating, how inspiring, how tiring, how dynamic, how lonely and how fulfilling TEFL teaching can be. I discovered my teaching strengths, my weaknesses, my quirks, my bad habits, my joys and my despairs.
And somewhere between explaining parts of speech, shaving half my head and cleaning up sick students’ vomit…I became a teacher.
So it appears that I’ve achieved last year’s resolution, but this year I resolve to take it a step further. This year I resolve to be better, much better. It’s been a year of stumbles and bumbles and knee-skinning falls and now it’s time to get serious. On Monday I submitted my first graduate application to the Master’s of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University. Over the course of the next few months I will be submitting applications to three other programs in California, Vermont and New York City with concentrations including language school administration, international education and a distance learning MA TESOL program.
So this year’s resolution is a bit more long-term– to have a master’s degree in my hands by the end of 2014. I just know that I have to keep up the momentum and not get stuck in the vines of the jungle. My eyes are set on a point in the not-so-distant future so…