Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Way-Back Story

Three or four years ago, I got a RIF notice from my school district (FUSD) and felt a bit grumpy about it, so I started talking about teaching in other places, specifically for the Department of Defense, working on military bases. I had lots of support for this position from my family who had attended such a school when they lived in Japan (before my time) and also from Paul, my best friend's father, who had spent fifteen years teaching in DOD schools with his wife. His stories were wonderful and his posts varied from London to Germany to Cuba (where he would drive along the fenceline shouting "Fidel, mi amigo!" just in case, you know). Joe loved hearing Paul's stories, but his job situation was really good at the time, and lots of other life events occurred, pushing the whole idea to the side. We both pooh-poohed the person (whose name we can't remember) who said, "Hey, if you really want to teach overseas, you have to go to this job fair in Iowa in February." "Pshaw," we said disdainfully, "what kind of idiot goes to Iowa in February?"

So, fast-forward to March of 2009, when Joe received a RIF notice from dear old FUSD and then he felt a bit grumpy, especially since the RIF wasn't withdrawn until the last day of the school year. We both went home and completed our DOD applications right away and waited for the offers to pour in. However, nothing happened over the summer and into the early part of the school year. Joe received a notice for a counselor position in Japan, but we had already started teaching and couldn't even follow up. Further conversations with the DOD were equally discouraging, and in the late fall, with FUSD budget scares (which normally don't start until spring) already lively, we started talking about Iowa as a backup plan. Joe found the website for the University of Northern Iowa and we made our applications for the international teaching job fair. We told a few people, mostly just those responsible for approving our personal leave requests, booked our flight/hotel/car, and started getting documents together for our credential files. You could call it our voluntary part-time job! As the day approached, we finally started telling people where we were going and why, and many asked for details of the job fair. I created an email list and sent little missives at the end of each day, and those will follow this first post. We hope you will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing and sending them. We'll be maintaining this blog to give you the stories of our adventures as we enter into international teaching, but more about that in later posts. - Tammy

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