In the 1970’s, when I was a teenager in southern Missouri, I remember a favorite TV show called Let’s Make a Deal. The host, Monty Hall, would wander through the audience and select random people to trade something in that they wore, or brought to the show, for a chance to win a much nicer prize. The contestant would continue to trade until a great prize was secured behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3. These lavish prizes might be a kitchen appliance, a new car or a dream vacation. But there was also the possibility of trading and getting a Zonk! A Zonk was an undesirable prize such as fake money or silly, low value items. To gain Monty’s attention, hopeful contestants would wear terrific costumes and cheer and shout in hopes of being selected to play the game.
This remembered scenario reminds me of my own situation.
An international teacher begins searching for jobs in late autumn for the following year. Job recruitment fairs start in December and January and for many teachers, their teaching career is a series of two or three year posts in a variety of countries. Faculty members and administrators move around as much as the students and their families do. The teacher starts playing Let’s Make a Deal as the hopeful contestant, dressing up cover letters and resumes in ways to gain attention.
That’s where I find myself now. As an international teacher, teaching inquiry methods, I’m curious myself what lies ahead behind the three doors. I’ve been making lists: What are the positives and what are the negatives? In other words, what would I like to trade in? Since the contract began, what could I live without? What would I want to keep? What has worked, what has not? What have I learned? What is now important to me that I was unaware of initially? Once the process has commenced, and the recruiting company has been paid, a teacher gain access to other schools that daily post their needs for the following year. “Which door will I pick? What if the door I pick turns out to be a Zonk? But what if it is a better prize?”
I’ve been able to fulfill my heart’s desire by teaching in an international school in one of the great cities of the world. I traded in an American lifestyle that I had become complacent with and I’ll never regret it. I’m now thinking about the trade again and am peeking behind the doors to see the prizes. Door #1’s prize is to stay put. Continue to build an art program for over 50 nationalities of students that I have developed a great love for. The prize behind Door #2 is the likely possibility of moving to a new country and teaching at a new school, getting to meet interesting new people and gain an even deeper understanding of the world and myself. But Door #3 holds quite a surprise!
I have a daughter who is now a grown woman. Last weekend, a man who loves her deeply asked her a simple question, “Will you marry me?” When she responded, “Yes,” I unexpectedly got homesick to be with my girl. Door #3 holds the prize of moving home, to help plan a wedding.
As I told a friend today, my problem is that I have too many options, and what a gift this is. There are so many who don’t have any options.
What are your prizes? What are you willing to trade this Thanksgiving week?
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