Thursday, February 12, 2009

I can feel the distance getting close

(This was originally posted on Facebook and elsewhere in early February, before this blog existed. I am reposting it here, backdated, for the sake of continuity.)

Guess what, kids. I'm going to China.

In, uh, two and a half weeks. To teach English. For 6 months. I am going to be in Jinan, China, in the Shandong province, allegedly the birthplace of Confucius.

When I got back from trucking, I swore up and down that it was the last of the crazy gypsy adventures. I was just so damn tired of moving, of being rootless, of not having a definitive idea of where home was. So I moved to Oakland and made some valiant attempts to Put Down Some Roots. Except, have you seen what's going on with our economy? I've been doing temp work, and some freelance editing. And moping, and questioning. And being mostly confused and miserable.

The thing is, I think I know what I want to do when I grow up. I think I want to teach. Specifically, I think I want to teach ESL (that's English as a Second Language) to teenagers. Because I used to be a foreign teenager in America, and let me tell you, it's no picnic. And I keep thinking back to the story I wrote in NC about high school ESL students, and how much I connected with all the kids I interviewed. Their words still haunt me, in a good way. In a way that reminds me of who I am and where I come from.

What's a recovering journalist with no teaching experience to do in a shittastic economy to acquire some teaching experience? Why, go to a foreign country and teach English, of course.

See, I have this friend. An old, old friend. So old, that 11 years ago (Eleven! Jesus!) he and I were voted the biggest freaks of our high school graduating class. Well, I believe the exact wording of the "superlative" title was something like, "most unique," but we all know what that means in a suburban high school. He kinda dropped off the face of the Earth for a while, then resurfaced again several years ago on the Internets. Turned out, he'd gone and moved to China, and has been there since, starting out as a teacher and progressing to teacher instructor, so he actually teaches teachers how to teach. He's told me in many an email that he could get me a job. In a recent fit of unemployed desperation, I asked him how serious he was. And it sort of snowballed from there.

Despite my track record, I maintain that I have no intention to live like a crazy gypsy for the rest of my life. But, seriously. How many times in a lifetime do you get old friends offering you jobs doing exactly what you want to do in exciting foreign lands? I am overjoyed and overwhelmed, and I think the reality of all this may not sink in until the transpacific flight takes off, at which point I may start flipping out. But, you know, it's best to flip out beyond the point of no return.

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