“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu
I have lived in Arkansas for thirty years of my life. Small pause for my mini panic attack because seeing the word "thirty" being applied to my age gave me heart palpitations. Returning to my regularly scheduled writing now. I love this state. The food is delicious (albeit mostly fried, drenched in butter, or, be near me Lord Jesus, both). The hiking trails are rugged- the most natural kind of beautiful. The people are warm and welcoming, especially at a Razorback football tailgate party (#WPS). But at some point, staying here began to feel like squeezing into a body-hugging dress after chowing down on a few slices of Gusano's pizza. You can do it, but it ain't pretty, darlin'.
Over the years, my heart would ache to see and do something beyond the known: to take spontaneous adventures that leave me breathless, to embrace people whose culture is vastly different from my own, to see sights so grand that they cause me to feel exceptionally insignificant. So, what does one do when they feel this way? There are really only two options:
1. Repress the ache and settle for something less risky.
2. Throw oneself with wild abandon into the glorious unknown.
Because I have the decision-making skills of an Ent from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, I initially chose option 1. The exasperating thing about repressing a calling is that it doesn't go away. The ache kept building to a point where I felt I would explode if I didn't just go somewhere. So, with a little help from Google and an encouraging friend, I found the Council on International Educational Exchange, or CIEE.
This organization has been a dream come true. They've given me the opportunity to teach English in Spain, a country that captured my heart on a short trip in 2017. It's a country that boasts its own unique comforts of home: the food is delicious (#Tapas, need I say more?); the scenery is exquisite; and the people are generous and passionate about their culture. I am overjoyed to take the first step on this crazy, wonderful, slightly overdue, adventure.
Have you or anyone you know participated in a CIEE program or any other teach abroad program? I'd love to hear your story!