Eleven years ago I sat in TESOL class listening to my professor lecture on best practices and methods to teach English Language Learners. She gave anecdotes of her first-hand experiences while teaching abroad. I vividly remember sitting in the cold business building classroom of the FAU Boca campus when my heart skipped a beat and the seed was planted. Since then the far-fetched seedling of a dream sprouted roots and grew.
First, it gave me the courage to venture out to another state. It wasn’t the right time and I found myself back where I started.
I learned that life continues even when we fall and sometimes what feels like failure is simply room for growth.
In the moment my dreams felt dead but I continued watering them. Secretly envisioning a life like none I could ever achieve by staying in the same zip code I’ve lived in since 1989. I gave myself time to dust off and get back on my feet. I pulled strength from watching my dream chasing friends. If they could dream it and achieve it then so could I. I protected the seedling which only grew stronger. As the roots grew they took hold of my heart in a way I wouldn’t have imagined.
Second it stirred a sense of adventure within me. I literally wanted to fly.
After all, life is a series of mini adventures strung together to create one amazing life.
In 2015 a good friend embarked on a great adventure of her own. With two words she threw bionic fertilizer on my dream’s soil. “COME VISIT.” She has no idea how her genuine hospitality helped bring me to where I am now. Shortly after her invitation I booked my first international flight.
In 2016 I boarded a Virgin Atlantic flight to Heathrow and everything changed. My eyes were opened to the world outside the states. My heart fluttered. My face hurt because I simply could not stop smiling. (To read more on my London adventures click here.) It was as if my dream plant had an intense growth spurt.
Life as I knew it would never be the same. I was seriously stung by the Wanderlust bug.
Coming home from my trip abroad was tough. I had to settle back into a routine that no longer satisfied me. I was left wanting more. All I could think of was my next trip. My next adventure. My mind and heart nagged me daily.
“How can I travel more?”
“What job can I do that will allow me to travel more?”
“Where will I travel next?”
“When can I go?”
“There must be something I can do with an education degree that will allow me to travel the world.”
That’s when it became clear. I am a teacher who wants to travel abroad.
Third I mindlessly took a risk. I googled: teaching abroad.
It was as if the other dream plants within my heart started shedding their leaves as the newest plant grew fresh bright green leaves. That’s when I remembered a statement that helped me understand the shift that occurred within me.
God will either give you the desires of your heart or He will change your desires.
And won’t He do it?! My desire to travel burned within me stronger than any other dream I’ve ever had.
I didn’t stop with simply googling “teaching abroad.” I went ahead and chose an agency. I applied without any expectation. Creating a profile and selecting a couple of destinations I was qualified for was the easy part. I honestly did not think anything would come of it. Less than 24 hours passed when I received a phone call from said agency requesting a preliminary phone interview. That sparked excitement. Two days later I had a 10 to 15 minute phone interview where I was asked basic questions regarding my teaching certifications and experience. The interviewer was impressed and informed me that he’d pass along my resume. Cool!
Months and months went by and I didn’t hear anything about it. I would check my online profile to see that my application was still pending. As the time passed without any communication I almost forgot I had applied. Until one day I received an email.
“You have been selected for an in-person interview.”
The idea that my dream could actually come true gave way to the prettiest buds of potential flowers all over my dream plant.
I prepared as best I could, booked a flight, packed a bag, and traveled to Atlanta for a weekend. I told maybe two people for safety reasons. The day of the interview was possibly one of the most nerve wrecking days of my life. As I arrived at the interview venue along with hundreds of other candidates I realized the opportunity of a life time was actually within reach. I checked in, met my recruiter in person, sat for a math test, played the waiting game and finally my name was called. I had no idea what to expect or what questions would be asked of me. I came prepared with my favorite go to methods, my learning gain stats, my classroom management strategies, and anecdotes of my engaging classroom environment. Funny thing is, I wasn’t asked about any of those things! The interviewer wanted to know about my content knowledge. My strategies to help my students make connections and my capability to create higher order level questions. Needless to say, it was the toughest interview of my life. But I survived.
I left Atlanta feeling a mixture of emotions. I was nervous, grateful, doubtful, incredulous and straight up proud of myself for chasing my dreams at all costs. My recruiter had informed me that I would receive word of my interview results within two weeks via email. If you have a smart phone and have your email linked to your phone you could imagine how I reacted every time an email ping came through. My heart raced. My stomach did somersaults. My pupils dilated. Finally two weeks after arriving home from Atlanta on December 15, 2016, while stopped at a red light the email came through. I vividly remember the piercing shriek that might have cracked my windshield.
“Congratulations! Your initial offer letter is attached.”
I all but started crying right there at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Sheridan Street. I had to read it several times to fully process all of the information in the email. I immediately called my mom to share the good news.
From Dec 15th to Jul 18th there was a whirlwind of paperwork, anticipation, hurrying and waiting. I’ll go into further details on the time between the buds appearing and the flowers actually blooming in a later post. For now just know that the journey to get here has been a long one. Not always an easy one. Sometimes a frustrating and scary road. But today I find myself writing this blog all the way from Dubai, UAE with a dream plant in full bloom. Flowers of bright colors adorning the branches of my dream.
I hope to always leave you with an encouraging word:
Chase your dreams! Big or small! Chase the passions that allow your heart to beat on. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself and in your dream. It was planted within you for a reason. Tend to it and allow it to bear fruit. Don’t look back in regret. As I’ve learned when you persevere, believe, declare, and visualize the universe will help you manifest those desires in your heart and your dreams will come true!