Who Said You Can’t Go Home?
My husband and I finally decided to give international teaching a try after listening to his sister and her husband rant and rave about their experiences abroad summer after summer. At the time, we had no idea that what was originally planned to be a two year trial phase would turn into a decade of living, teaching and traveling overseas. And boy do our scrapbooks and photo albums bulge with recollections of some fantastic adventures. It was also during our 10 years abroad that our family grew to include 3 children. We quickly added 3rd world hospitals and medical care to our international experience as well as nannies and traveling with hideous amounts of luggage. We somehow learned to joyfully manage it all while considering ourselves blessed indeed to have healthy kids, great jobs and quite an exotic lifestyle. Yet, despite advice from our international friends, we decided to give it all up and return to the States in search of what we found ourselves desperately missing overseas– the support and love of extended family and the stability of a place we could call home.
As perfect as our international life seemed to others, my husband and I began to experience a tremendous sadness because our children did not really know their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, nor were they making memories with their cousins. We wondered about the integrity of the social support systems our children were exposed to in the international circuit of high turn over. Plus, the underlying anxiety parents feel about their childrens’ futures and the survival skills they’ll need to make it in the real world began to creep up on us. Were the false securities of vacation resorts, maids, extended air travel, and disposable incomes going to prepare them for the kind of life we hoped they would lead someday? The very thing that attracted us to international teaching a decade prior — more liberal professional situations combined with carefree living and travel — had lost its luster.
Today, our salaries and benefits packages far surpass our last international post, and unless we do something really stupid, a disgruntled superintendent or school board member can’t end our contracts six weeks before school is out.