During the summer of 2009, I tracked how I spent my time. I was prompted to do this because I often couldn’t tell you what exactly I did during my summer break by the time school started. I knew I was productive but I couldn’t remember specifics from one afternoon of floating on my raft to the next. I began listing my accomplishments, books I read, new workouts I tried, new artwork I made and trips I took.
By the end of 2010, however, I had found Chris Guillebeau and his blog, “The Art of Non-Conformity” and began utilizing some of his suggestions for reflecting on an Annual Review . During the ending weeks of December, and possibly sliding into the early weeks of January, I take time to note past accomplishments and future goals so they won’t escape out-of-reach and out-of-memory as days get hectic. For me, the older I get, and the faster time flies, it is reassuring to read through the goals I had a year ago and recall all that I’ve done to fulfill my life. This makes me feel good and it helps me further continue down the Path Of Life with an idea of how I can use my time in the days ahead. Although there are a myriad of templates and suggestions online about how to reflect upon the past year, Chris’ method utilizes two primary questions:
• What went well in 2012?
• What did not go well in 2012?
This reflective tool not only helps me organize the year ahead, but it helps me easily track the highlights of my life, in the very short form of a bulleted diary. In my Annual Review, I also continue to include notes on books I read and travels I took as these continue to be important aspects of my life. Last December, one of my goals was to start this blog. By reading my thoughts on that from a year ago, it makes me feel proud to know that I not only accomplished that, but also inspired a few people along the way. Looking forward, I will visualize what lies ahead and how my blog may change when I live overseas.
This past holiday week I’ve been fortunate to spend time with my daughter who lives out of state. She is about to begin her last semester of college and is entering into a time of transition – just like I am. All we’ve grown accustomed to is about to change. We are both considering new jobs, new cities and new people. We are about to step out into a place we’ve never been. As she watches my life unfold, she is observing how life continues to be about change. We’ve talked about how exciting a new time can be and how stressful it can be. We feel out of control because we have opportunities that we didn’t have before and we have no way of knowing what the future holds. Although she and I work out decisions through our faith, there is still the first step, which can be scary. Risks are involved. Taking that first step has the power to alter the course of not only your life but also the lives of others. It’s a big deal.
During these last days of 2012 I want to thank you, my readers, for inspiring and motivating me. You have been my accountability partner to stand firm in being courageous as I take the next step. Thank you so much.
Months ago I signed up for a conference in Portland, Oregon called the World Domination Summit. This summit was Chris Guillebeau’s creation. For the past two years I’ve been following Chris’ blog, The Art of Non-Conformity. He fascinates me both with his advice on traveling the world and his ability to inspire his readers. Tens of thousands of people follow his blog and his “small army,” as he calls his followers, live all over the world. This army of people is changing the world, one day at a time, in very diverse ways. One thousand small army members have joined forces to learn from one another in Portland this weekend.
On Thursday, I flew from DFW to PDX by myself. I didn’t know anyone on the plane and I don’t know anyone in Portland. I had an idea that I would likely be one of the oldest “army” members, as this summit has much to do with new technologies in the forms of blogging, eBook publication, world travel and living life without conforming and it seems to me that thirty-somethings have the corner on this market. There was a slight hint of fear in me if I stopped long enough to give that negative energy a foothold in my mind, but I tried not to. These little, creeping fears included thinking I’d be “too old”; fear of knowing how to get from the Portland airport to my hostel, fear of feeling inadequate amongst these amazing small army members, fear of fitting in. I love adventure and making friends from all around the world and I really do believe I have something to offer the world in myself, so I didn’t allow these feelings of fear sit for too long in my head in the days leading up to the summit. Every time one of these little, creeping fears started to tickle my imagination and turn my stomach, I’d squash it the way you would an annoying Texas mosquito by reading a blog from an inspirational writer or imagining what exciting paths could be opened to me at this summit if I would only just keep walking in that direction.
From her blog, Shanna Trenholm posted an article for those of us arriving in Portland who had never attended WDS before. Her mindful advice helped soothe my restless soul. As I was reading her list of “pitfalls”, I connected with one in particular:
“You’ll struggle with comparison-itis. You will be sure that everyone else is living a remarkable life, that your life is the only small life in the room. Stop it. Don’t fall into that trap. It isn’t true. Being remarkable is on a continuum and it can be measured in many ways. Make your own measure. Create your own amazing.”
Create your own amazing. Isn’t that wonderful? I wanted to share it with you.
Finding my way to the hostel, I remembered the last time I was in Portland about 25 years ago. At that time I attended the NCECA conference. It makes me smile to remember that even back then, I went to Portland by myself. I’ve never forgotten it and always yearned to go back. So here I am.
This is a very partial listing of a few of the seminars I’ve gone to and persons I’ve listened to:
From my point of view, the title of this 1975 Paul Simon song could also be 50 Ways to Leave Your Home, Your Family, Your Country, Your Job or Life As You Know It.
As my mentor to all-things-adventure, Chris Guillebeau said in his recent post titled, How To Go Everywhere, “We often feel paralyzed by choice and make no choice. But the thing is, no choice is a choice. If you’re not doing something about it, you’re doing something about it. So if you too want to travel and you’re trying to make a choice, just choose. If you want to go somewhere, what’s stopping you? That’s right, nothing.”
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free
This rendition is by Matteo Grondini.
I can remember the first time I heard Paul Simon’s voice. It was at my 3rd grade friend’s house in Merriam, Kansas. Kathy had 3 older siblings, one of whom was in college and his hair was just like Art Garfunkle’s. Not only was he handsome, but he drove a VW bug! From that day forward I paid attention to Simon and Garfunkle. Simon’s lyrics have come to mind many times over my lifetime as either my friends or I were wrestling with how to get out of a bad relationship. One can easily apply Simon’s lyrical advise to all kinds of other situations as well. Continuing from last week’s post, which refers to The Clash’s song, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, this week I will present an option on how to go and get yourself free.
So how does one go about getting themselves free? I have been thinking about moving overseas for about five years. For starters, I’ll need to either sell or rent out my home that I still owe a mortgage on. From the expert advise of others who have moved overseas, I’m still left in a query; some say it’s great to have a place to move back to in the USA, others say, “Sell!” and be released of the burden of worry. Furthermore, I’ll need to sell my car and rid myself of accumulated material possessions. As an artist, I have artwork, books galore and art supplies that will have to be reckoned with. This is a daunting task as it has taken me my adult lifetime to accumulate these items. Do I get a storage unit (climate controlled I’m told…) or do I choose a POD? These answers will come to me over time I feel certain, but ultimately, I’ll just have to choose.
Since 1955, International Schools Services (ISS) has been dedicated to providing international students access to a premier Western education. It is difficult for ISS to give me data regarding how many art positions are available each year because, unlike UNI, they have continual, year-round recruitment fairs at various locations around the world. Currently, ISS has five recruitment conferences scheduled in 2012-13 to include Philadelphia; Nice, France; Atlanta; Bangkok and San Francisco. There will be more posted as dates are confirmed.
In 2010, a variety of schools, in countries such as China, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and Vietnam, needed art teachers but each year the represented schools and countries are varied. There is no way to predict how many schools from how many countries will need art teachers each year. When I recently inquired there were 11 positions most recently available.
ISS also manages and/or owns 16 schools. Not only does ISS staff their own schools but they assist other schools in staffing theirs as well. An ISS representative told me that their recruitment fairs are somewhat selfish, as they try to get the best candidates for their own schools. ISS is deeply rooted in the international education community and there are many educators that have been placed by ISS.
A fee of $185 is required to participate in two recruiting seasons (Sept-Aug). It is strongly recommended for interested educators not to establish membership until they are ready to pursue an international teaching position.
When I asked ISS why their recruiting fair is “the best”, I was given this response:
“The dynamics of a recruiting conference have always included the anticipation of discovering the opportunities present and meeting those who can best describe their schools, their communities, and the positions available. The IRC [International Recruiting Conference] presents a tremendous learning experience and orientation to the overseas recruitment process, where one can learn from those currently working overseas and speak with the heads of international schools from all over the world. School administrators offer video and slide presentations so that candidates may picture the communities they may choose to join. These sessions also offer the opportunity for Q&A during small group settings. [Additionally,] International school heads participate on regional panels to discuss the realities of life and work in each of the five major continental areas. Candidates are encouraged to attend these sessions. In the candidate lounge, computer assistance is provided – with a bank of computers allowing email access. A copier is also provided. Regional guides and other print resources are provided for review, as well as brochures supplied by the schools in attendance.”
After applying, being approved and paying the registration fee, the best way to determine which ISS fair is best for you to attend is to see which schools registered for the fairs and which ones have positions that suit you. Most candidates attend the fair that is closest to their hometown.
An invaluable piece of advise was recently offered to me by a new friend who currently teaches art overseas. She suggested I join the organization International Schools Review (ISR).
This $29/year website membership is maintained by teachers, of all subjects, from all countries, who currently teach around the world. This amazing website boasts having over 5,000 reviews of international schools written by international teachers available to its members. This means if you decide to work with ISS, for example, and you “see” a teacher listing, let’s say, in Berlin, Germany, you can look up this school on International Schools Review and read many different teachers’ opinions about the school, the administration and the community. Additionally a Forum exists, where teacher-members can read about a variety of subjects. Members can also start new conversations, asking specific questions to these seasoned teachers.
A featured question in April 2012 was this:
How Do International Educators See Their Careers?
Teachers teaching all over the world, with a plethora of experiences answered. Three of the responses were:
“I’ve basically done my career already in NZ, so at age 50 decided to ‘retire’ and enjoy my love of traveling combined with teaching. It was a good idea! Highly recommend it.”
Loving Life said:
“My son completed first grade at home and has lived in five different countries, learned parts of five languages with 8 years of Chinese. He won the EARCOS Global Citizenship award last year, along with a $500 grant for a project he is involved with in an orphanage in Cambodia. He will graduate in a month with the IB diploma. I could never have done this as a single parent in the States. Moving overseas was the best decision I made. I hear my sister talk about teaching in the States and I feel so fortunate, even when things get difficult overseas. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”
One day at a time says:
“Teaching overseas and being part of the world has been very rewarding and eye opening. My own children have truly been brought up as world citizens and have learned much more than they would have from textbooks. Their lives aren’t about being proud Americans but about being proud world citizens.”
So there you have it. Already it’s a hard decision between UNI and ISS and next week I’ll be reviewing Search Associates. Do I pay all three application fees? Do I go to UNI and chance the weather? Do I go to a recruitment fair or just take my chance interviewing with Skype? Lots of decisions and when it’s time, I’ll just choose.
Do you have any experience working in a foreign country?
I love them both, but for different reasons and I can’t get enough of either of them. I’m not sure if they personally know each other or not, but I’m fairly sure they’ve heard of one another. They live fairly close to one another; one in the Seattle area and one in Portland. They each have influenced me in countless ways and I talk about them frequently to my friends and family. They have shown me how to be brave and have given me a community of like-minded thinkers. Although I’ve often taken them to bed with me, I’ve never met either of them in person. I don’t quite remember how Rick and I were introduced, but I met Chris online.
Quite surprised, in 2006 I won a free trip to Paris and London (more on this later). I found Rick and he taught me the basics of international travel through his book Europe Through the Back Door. This was my first trip to Europe and Rick’s sound advice curtailed so many of my fears and allowed me to believe in myself that I could actually get around in Europe with no knowledge of another language. With Rick’s help, I fell so helplessly in love with those two cities that the following year I packed up my (then) teenage daughter and we went back to Europe for three weeks exploring France, Italy and Austria. I planned the entire trip on my own setting up, in advance, everything from hotels and inns, to train and vaporetto travel. I also purchased museum tickets and maps in advance and learned about the time zone changes. I learned how to read military time and how to understand currency. I actually felt confident when I got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle and had to find my way to the 7eme, or 7th arrondissement, where the Grand Hotel Leveque was located, a hotel that Rick had suggested. Since then, Rick’s many books and DVD’s have become my close friends. I subscribe to his newsletter and I “like” him on facebook. I so highly regard him that I got goosebumps when I walked into his retail store in Edmonds last spring.
Since my first trip to Europe in 2006, I’ve been back three more times. This, mind you, is on a teacher’s salary. I’m certainly not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but with Chris’ help and sage advice, I’ve learned how to gain airline miles through travel hacking, as he calls it. In the summer of 2011, I spent 5 weeks overseas, flying back and forth between England and Turkey, and I didn’t have to pay for my airline costs at all. Chris is a writer, an encourager and a motivator. He lavishly extends all his knowledge to his online community and even finds time to write me personal emails when I have a question about something. Chris writes on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others out at the same time. This, of course, fits my goal of teaching art in an international school perfectly. The material available on his website is vast, ranging from published books, personal manifestos, email updates and articles on an array of subjects. In July 2012 he is hosting his second World Domination Summit in Portland. His followers, or “small army” as he calls us, snatched up all one thousand online tickets in something like 15 minutes! Insane!
And I am one of the lucky ticket holders.
I invite you to meet these two inspirational men. They have helped me maneuver through all there is to know about traveling internationally. I will be publishing personal summaries of my experiences and knowledge on this blog, but I know what I know because of these two generous men.
Who are your travel mentors? Do they blog or write books? We all want to know! Please comment.
Have a dose of what life is really like living here – from Turkish in 1000 easy lessons to learning the secrets to making the perfect kebab! Highs or lows this is our random observations from the melting pot of crazy that is my life in Mersin.