In just a few days my friend Steve will be back in the Twin Cities. Steve and his family just finished a two year post at a school in Cairo, Egypt. They were safe every step of the way (for those who are wondering about the political revolution). The school evacuated them until things settled down and then brought them back. A little disruptive, but part of the process of working at a school outside the U.S.
Steve and his wife were instrumental in helping Jenni and I make the decision to teach overseas. Steve and I had worked together at Sandburg Middle School and became kind of a mentor to me (whether he knew it or not). When he announced that he was moving to Cairo it rekindled an ember that Jenni and I had kept smoldering for years. Steve has two kids (boy and a girl) about the same age as our kids, a mortgage, family in the area, a stable teaching career, and a spouse that worked in education as well. The reality of Steve and his family making that big of a move became an example of what WE could do too. Suddenly the excuses for NOT taking the leap were irrelevant.
Over the 9 months or so, we Skyped a lot (hours at a time!). They helped us figure out what questions to ask BEFORE we even got to the UNI job fair – what decisions we needed to make and what information we needed to research. They shared stories about their experiences, how the kids responded to the adventure and what they are taking away from it all. They helped put our minds at ease and re-assured us that we were doing the right thing. The beginning of our adventure has been immeasurable positive, because of the support, encouragement and advice given to us by Steve and Lisa.
We may not get a chance to see Steve’s whole family before we go (Lisa is Canadian and needs to spend some time in Canada before returning to the US), but I may have an opportunity to buy Steve dinner. I mostly want to hear stories about their experiences, but I really want to say “Thanks”. Who knows if we would have pursued our dream of living overseas and teaching had Steve and Lisa not provided a tangible example, but I do know that we would not have had such a great time enjoying the experience and we wouldn’t have gotten to know some dynamic and warm people.