Have you ever secretly thought “Why does Maggie do the things that she does? Why doesn’t she contribute to society and just get a real job?! Why does she flutter around from place to place? WHAT IS SHE ACTUALLY DOING WITH HER LIFE?!”
I’ve heard variants of these questions and jokes made about the sentiments time and time again. And then I realized it’s because I have never actually sat down and explained why I do the things I do.
Because talking about a calling is scary.
Callings are scary for a number of reasons. In the back of my head, there’s a little voice asking if I’m actually sincere, or am I just masking my own secret intentions with the idea of providence? Is this really my calling or will something else come up? Will people judge me for being so young and truly believing that I already have a path carved out for me? Are people mad at me that that path is still a little fuzzy and vague? Am I too _____ (young, inexperienced, naive, fill in the blank)?
Callings are also scary because they are a profession of faith, and an identity within that.
I recently had a trusted family friend-turned-mentor explain that a calling is where you pair your natural, God-given gifts with the faith that He will provide and put you into the right situation. A calling is allowing yourself to be medium in whatever you do, affecting the people that need to be served in the way that is most needed. A calling is truly a leap of faith.
So why do I believe that international teaching is my next step off the ledge? And why teaching? And why abroad? Because (as you may know) I’m not actually studying to be a teacher in the states, and my actual degree will be in International Affairs and French.
Teaching abroad means everything to me. It’s getting to interact with children, being a positive influence in their life, using my experiences to help guide them, encouraging them, making them feel loved, important, and smart. Teachers and mentors get a unique opportunity to pick up the discouraged, build confidence in the shy ones, love the overlooked and everyone in between.
I also get to interact with different cultures, sharpening my tools of the trade. I learn how to be a better listener, communicator, and less ignorant. Learning how to be a friend to someone within another culture, balancing learning and unlearning all that you know with all that they know, is a real challenge but true gift. This is something I will use throughout my entire career, whatever that may be!
I also get to be a bridge-builder; connecting kids with education, cultures between cultures, weaving God’s kingdom.
I would like to share a story about a very special student of mine in Haiti. His name is Emmanuel and he is twelve years old. He’s a typical tween boy; he likes to hang around with his friends, he likes to tease the girls, he likes to play. In English camp, Emmanuel was also a very bright student; he was in our intermediate group, so what he learned of English, he learned rapidly. I noticed very on into the summer that he was whip-smart, listening to everything that was said, constantly watching. Emmanuel also hated me at first. He would speak out in class or if I saw him in the village, he would make sure I’d say hi before he’d roll his eyes and walk away. I had a friend speak to him and he was immediately apologetic and sheepish. From then on, he listened to me, cautiously though (knowing I wasn’t one to be pushed). By the end of the summer, he (in typical tween boy fashion) had a friend give me a note asking me to be his godmother for the graduation ceremony ((it basically doesn’t mean much but having him ask me meant the world)). And before I left, he proudly used his best handwriting and all of his new English vocab to write a thank-you note. It was more than the education he received; we have a friendship and a mutually-respecting relationship. Emmanuel will always secretively-not-so-secretively be one of my favorite parts about last summer.
I can’t wait to make this step of faith, meeting new students, seeing God provide. I’ll keep you all in touch as this process continues.
Emmanuel and I