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Homeschool grad moving on to international living.... a mom shares the story
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Ellen Stewart of Johnstown PA is the mom of many children, all adopted (many internationally)-- she is no stranger to traveling to China or Russia or Korea to meet and welcome her new children. Now she's experiencing having her 4th child, Molly, move on to living abroad-- and shares thoughts that I'm sure will resonate with many of you. I definitely encourage you to check out Molly's wonderful blog-- I thought I'd just read the opening entry, but found myself moving through every post! It's actually really surprising -- and gratifying! -- to me just how many homeschool graduates have chosen to spend extended time living abroad in their early adult years. I have another blogsite to share in a few days from a graduate who spent time working in a medical mission in Africa, one of her dreams since childhood. I know other students who lived abroad in Taiwan teaching in preschools, or who are teaching US history in mainland Chinese high schools, or who've made their home in Uganda, and as many of you know our older daughter has now lived in Israel for over 5 years. What's that we all used to hear that by homeschooling, our kids might never 'leave home'??? Maybe the old saying about 'giving them roots, and giving them wings' is true-- we've done both!
I held her as closely as I could for as long as I could. She still had the same smell that I remembered when she was a baby. Molly had grown up in to a lovely young woman and was preparing to board a plane for Bolivia for her first teaching job in an international school. She was tired. I was crying. I gave her a kiss on the cheek then released her. She was free.
When I began homeschooling over two decades ago, the days seemed long, tedious, redundant, and tiring. We had many fun times, but there was always the daily rhythm that carried us from math to English to history like a wave through the day. The water was finally crashing on the shore. Molly had graduated years before and secured a teaching degree along with her master's in English as a Second Language (ESL). She had lived in town and would pop in for frequent visits with her family. She had worked for an insurance company for a few years before landing a job as a therapeutic staff support (TSS) person in the local school system. Now she was going to a new continent on the other side of the equator. She would learn to speak Spanish. She would teach ESL to the other teachers in her English speaking school. She would learn to manage classrooms of junior high students. The curriculums would be built with her own hands.
It was interesting to get an email from Molly mentioning that she would be speaking with the Social Studies teacher. She wanted to coordinate her work teaching Language Arts with the history lessons the children received. That's what we used to do around our kitchen table. Now that experience would be transferred to a school in Bolivia.
Molly was always a great writer. I once told her that I didn't know what she would be when she grew up, but she would write whatever profession she might choose. She began a blog about her experience entitled Something New 22 http://startofsomethingnew22.blogspot.com/. In it, she describes her ventures into a new world, learning how to establish authority in a classroom, and wrestling with self-doubt during her bouts of homesickness.
This would be a great blog for home schooled students to read! It might give them a flavor for adventure, an appreciation for other cultures, and gratitude for America. It might be a new door that they will walk through themselves one day. In her most recent post, Molly wrote, "I explained what happened, and there was a cry of astonishment that I was the 'dreaded' teacher who had inflicted this terrible punishment on the kids. The other teachers were very supportive and agreed that I had done the best thing possible. I felt a moment of pride as I knew that I would be quite famous around the high school...at least for the next few days, possibly weeks. Students would know that I was not going to be lenient with them and they would not be able to just walk all over me. I may be young and inexperienced, but I know what I'm doing....or at least I just pretend I do. Hopefully, the kids will respect me for what I did, although I don't imagine their feelings of dislike and possibly hatred, will disappear by tomorrow."
During one of her lonelier times she posted, "What was I doing? Was I really not going to get to see my friends and family for 4 straight months? I missed my sisters, my nephew, my friends and family; the ability to get food that I liked by just walking into the kitchen. I missed the comfort of my own bed. I even missed the smells of home. Did I make a big mistake in coming here? After all, the financial situation was not the best. Do I just call it quits and return home? I mulled over these questions with two of my close friends back home and they both told me the same thing: "stick it out; you committed to a year. Yes, we miss you and you miss us, but it's for four months. You can do it." They really encouraged me, even though I was still feeling down. It was going to be a long four months."
If you do choose to read more of Molly's adventures, I would encourage you to comment on her posts. It would provide encouragement to her along with a chance to engage in her new culture. Maybe your child might want a pen pal from Bolivia? Maybe a friendship would develop that would unite two worlds. Maybe one day your child will be held tightly in your arms as you release him or her to start a new venture and a blog of their own...