Two months to go until I pack up my bags, board a plane once more, and head off to Thailand. The initial excitement has given way to a nervous stew of self-doubt and questions. I am returning to teaching after five years and this has sparked a cascade of worries.
I will be teaching English in a rural Karen village in northern Thailand at a small school. Like village teachers through the ages, a wide range of ages will look to me to guide their learning. Already the doubts are surfacing. I have taught in the inner-city, not exactly a breeze of a first teaching experience. It was trial by fire with a diamond-in-the-rough batch of teenagers who probably taught me more about myself than I taught them about history and civics. It wasn’t easy. The movies get it all wrong. In the movies, the teacher comes in to face a hardened group of inner-city teens, chaos ensues as they face sarcasm and indifference, a brilliant lesson or two outside the box shows the kids the teacher ”gets them”, and cue inspirational we’ll-beat-the-odds-and-prove-everyone-wrong music.
It’s not that simple. I often went home after a long day only to cry my eyes out. From the reality of the home situations my students faced. From witnessing a drive-by shooting. From the hard time students often give a first-year teacher. And from the sheer exhaustion. Continue reading
I haven’t posted much lately. There is a huge, life-altering reason to this and I was waiting for the right moment to share it. That time is now.
I will be teaching English in a rural mountain village in Thailand among the Karen people this summer. And possible for longer periods of time in the years to come.
This is a huge decision for me, one that incorporates my love of travel and cultures with my recent past love of teaching. I am filled with purpose and excitement, as well as nervousness.
So many questions and challenges lie ahead. The obvious challenges of teaching English to children who speak a language completely different from my own. A new living situation outside my comfort zone without the modern conveniences I’m used to. The hard work of teaching I once knew so well. Beginning to learn a new language. A cultural set of values and social rules completely unknown to me.
And there’s the elephant in the room I must acknowledge. Fibromyalgia. The very reason I left teaching in the first place, when I was first diagnosed and getting out of bed in the morning was a huge achievement. I have come so far since then. But I still worry.
More details to come as I leap off the cliff and see what awaits below.
My final dispatch from January’s trip to Jasper, Alberta, high in the Canadian Rockies. As I watch the rain mixed with snow turn my neighborhood into a slick mess, I long for the deep cold and fresh powder of Jasper.
Enjoy! Photos to come later…..
One activity I assumed fibromyalgia had forever eliminated for me was skiing. Too hard on the knees and joints, too exhausting for a body already living with chronic fatigue. Not that I was an avid skier before fibro. I only went a couple times with friends and never really learned how to ski well. A shame really, growing up so close to Mt. Hood.
The last couple years, as I’ve slowly explored what physical activities I can and cannot handle, my body a bruised and battered guinea pig (hiking good, horseback riding and kayaking bad), I’ve contemplated giving skiing another go. I just never had the guts to try it beyond the wishful thinking of how wonderful it would feel to fly once more down the mountain.
My weekend in Jasper has been a chance to face my doubts and the mountain once more. Continue reading
Posted in Alberta, Canada, Exercise/sports, Outdoor Activities
Tagged Alberta, Canada, Canadian Rockies, fibromyalgia, Jasper National Park, Marmot Basin, skiing, travel
Photos from my hike through the icy wonders of Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park are now posted. From frozen cascades of ice to cave spelunking, this hike lay to rest all my doubts about hiking in the depths of winter. Just make sure you go with an experienced guide who can read the safety of the ice. To view my photo slide show, click on the link below.
Maligne Ice Canyon Hike
Another delayed post from my week in the Canadian Rockies….
Today the town of Jasper, Alberta threw a birthday party for me.
Okay, it was really their annual Winterstruck! festival out at Pyramid Lake, a part of their month-long Jasper in January. But for me, it was a day of firsts amidst a dramatic setting of a frozen lake tucked into the wide valley beneath the aptly-named Pyramid Mountain.
I jumped the free shuttle from town for the 15 minute drive out to the lake. Locals swarmed over the snow with mountain bike-worthy strollers and cross-country skis. Young couples strolled through ankle-deep snow covering the lake like a fluffy blanket, sipping steaming mugs of cocoa and cider. Laughing teenagers raced in snowshoes as a Davy Crocket look-alike cheered them on to a soundtrack of mountain men folk songs. Families tried their hand at winter bocce, sliding huge hunks of wood across a cleared section of ice. Continue reading
It has been a long while since I posted, but not for lack of writing or travel. I blame it on technology, a stubborn laptop that refused to acknowledge WiFi. So when I visited Jasper National Park a couple of weeks back, in the depths of a deep freeze, I captured my thoughts to share once I returned home. So here begins a series of dispatches from the winter wilds of the Canadian Rockies….
I sit by a crackling fire, the glow casting shadows on the honeyed timber walls of my cabin, as I clack away on my laptop. Outside, the sun blazes into an intense death amidst a hushed world of snow-clad forest and jagged mountains. After an adventurous morning of clamoring over rocks, spelunking in caves, and hiking over ice deep within a canyon, I am content.
Yesterday I left my everyday world, also deep in the throes of frigid winter, the Wisconsin streets of my residence heaped in frozen snow. Two plane hops across the great white north spirited me far away from the hustle and noise and endless tasks of work and home and life. A long day of travel and airports, tired travelers and fast food, and I arrived in Edmonton, final destination Jasper, Alberta, a Canadian mountain town high in the Rockies. Continue reading
Posted in Alberta, Canada, Exercise/sports, Outdoor Activities
Tagged Alberta, Canada, Canadian Rockies, hiking, Jasper National Park, Maligne Canyon, travel, winter travel
A week of sadness has left me strangely bereft of words. In the meantime, I leave you with images of my recent trip to Puerto Rico. This slide show batch focuses on Old San Juan, the section of the city first settled by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Today it’s packed with cafes, plazas, museums, airy Spanish colonial balconies, askew cobblestone streets, and massive Spanish forts. To view the photo slide show, click on the link below.
Old San Juan