Sunday, January 5, 2014

Around the World (not quite) in 80 Days

80 DAYS!!!

Eighty days is how long it has been since my last blog post. That's a long time considering that shortly before that post, I vowed to post at least twice a week. Let me try to catch you up on my world a little bit. Some major changes have happened in my life since I last wrote.

I have mentioned many times that I'm working on a graduate degree for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I am now sixty percent of the way through my degree and should graduate in August. However, there has been some concern over my graduation date for the last several months.

In addition to my classes, I am required to do 100 hours of practicum in this field. In other words, I have to find a place to start teaching English before I graduate and start doing it. I have now been in this program for a year and have yet to acquire a single hour. But this is not for lack of trying.

My problem was due to living in a small town with little cultural integration. My hometown has a small population of Spanish speakers and a Chinese restaurant whose employees who do not seem to have a decent grasp of English. There are virtually no English language classes anywhere in the area. I called the local community college to see if I could assist in their ESL (English as a Second Language) courses. They told me they only offer one ESL class every year and no one ever signs up.

Only one high school in the area had a foreign student. That one student had moved from India with his family and only spoke Kashmiri. In the entire world, less than 6 million people speak this language, so it's not easy to find translators for this language. Especially in Southern Illinois.

When I went to the high school to offer my assistance (my FREE assistance, by the way), it was met with much excitement in the counseling office. They basically had no system in place to help this kid who was months away from having to take his ACT and could not speak a word of English. My daughter said he just sat in class and nodded when anyone spoke to him. There would be some legal hoops to jump through, but they were very excited that someone from this field was offering to help. One of them even said that my walking into the office was an answer to her prayers for this kid. Since I was already certified to substitute teach in the school and had been doing so for over a year, I didn't expect it would take very long. However, after a few months, I still couldn't get into the classroom.

Not again!
I finally gave up and talked to the district office for the elementary schools in the area. They showed the same exuberance as the high school. They had a few students who really needed help and were excited to have me available. They even contacted my college advisor to properly coordinate and be sure I would get my credits. However, they never actually made it happen either. Every time I checked in, they would tell me to come back later or explain that it was taking longer than expected. Once again, I had lost several months and was running out of time.

Not long ago, I was sitting in Red's apartment in Indianapolis when someone knocked on the door. He wanted to know if there were any Spanish speakers in the apartment. They were starting an English language course at the apartment complex and wanted to make sure anyone who might be able to benefit from it was aware.

Unbelievable! I had been unsuccessfully struggling to get into one of the extremely limited courses back home and in Indianapolis the opportunities just come knocking on the door. The only thing keeping me from getting my hours was where I lived. A few weeks earlier, my advisor had jokingly made a comment suggesting the same thing. I had just become convinced that she was right.

It took some effort to pull it off, but two weeks ago, I moved to Indianapolis. Two days later, I found a place to start teaching three blocks away from my apartment. It took almost no effort and there are teaching opportunities all over this city.

Plus, I now live in the same city as my girlfriend! No more 200 miles commutes every other weekend.

For those of you who have been following our story, I guess this is our next big step. We started out 900 miles apart. Almost two years ago, it dropped to two hundred miles. And now, she is a 10 minute drive from my apartment.

Life is pretty good right now. Now, I just need a job.

20 comments:

  1. It's a good feeling when you know your life is moving along in the direction you want it to isn't it?

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  2. I'm sure your expereiences in teaching English as a second language will result in some interesting blog posts. Congratulations on the positive direction your life has taken.

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    1. Thank you. It should be an interesting ride. I also have a whole new city to explore.

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    2. I'm happy things are finally going in the right direction. Where is Kirsten? I'm assuming Christian stayed in this area.

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    3. Christian signed a lease for his own place literally days before I left town. I helped him move into his new place and then a few days later, he helped me.

      Kirsten only had one semester left before graduating from high school, so she opted to stay. She is living with her mother.

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  3. When obstacles block your path find a another path. Congrats!

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    1. I just did what I had to do. Thank you.

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  4. I was wondering how you were doing and hoping you'd surface. Welcome back. I'm glad things are starting to go your way. Take care.

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    1. Thank you. Hopefully, I will have much more time now and I plan to use some of that time to start blogging again. I have missed it.

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  5. I'm so glad to have you close by, and looking forward to being part of your explorations. I was already working full-time before moving into the city, so didn't really get to explore much.

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    1. We will have fun exploring the city together. I want to walk down every scary alley to find the secret goodies.

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  6. I LOVE that they literally knocked on the door, I mean, that is like the literal definition of serendipity :) Congratulations on all your happy changes and growth. I've been reading your blog for so long it's like hearing a friend got really good news, ha.

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    1. Thank you so much. That made me smile.

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  7. Oh my gosh. Well, that explains why you disappeared for so long. I'm happy for you but I do hope the kids you wanted to help, will have somebody else to help them. Maybe you leaving will be a wake up call to the teachers to find something, since they missed an opportunity when yours knocked on the door.

    What's the next step for you and Red? Joint custody of a dog, or an unusual pet?

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    1. I am hoping for the same. The grade school had a little better system in place, but neither provided the resources needed.

      Red and I have spent enough time in each others apartments that we have discovered we have very different tastes in food. So, we each have food we like at the other's place.

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  8. How about that for a bit of luck?

    If I understand it correctly, the lesson here is to wait until opportunity knocks

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    1. You are correct. Find a comfortable couch and wait it out. I am using that strategy presently to find my next job.

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  9. So nice to see you writing again. As an even older graduate student working temp job to make it happen, I'm encouraged by your journey

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    1. Thank you. I'm no stranger to temp jobs. They're not always ideal, but definitely help to get things done.

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Leave a comment. C'MON!!! You're already here. Leave a comment. Don't leave me hanging and wondering if any has ever seen these words. I'll rub your feet.