“... Living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world. What I find appealing in life abroad was the inevitable sense of helplessness it would inspire. Equally exciting would be the work involved in overcoming that helplessness. There would be a goal involved, and I like having goals.”
David Sedaris, author of Me Talk Pretty One Day
A goal involved; yes, a goal.
My first goal in moving to Ecuador for the year was to improve my Spanish fluency and comprehension. My second goal was to continue improving myself as an educator. This year was going to give me the opportunity to enjoy two of my biggest passions: teaching and the Spanish language. How could it get more perfect than that?
What is interesting about things that seem "perfect" is that there are always hiccups along the way. I have been struggling for the past week with another opportunity to explore my two biggest passions, (aka the hiccup). It is called Fundación Mariposas Amarillas. It is a "small Colombian grassroots organization committed to supporting disadvantaged children and families around Santa Marta, Colombia." For more information on this inspiring place, check out the link: http://fmacolombia.weebly.com/
But Megan, why would you want to leave Cuenca, Ecuador? It is a place that has given you immense joy and made you feel complete, (as David Sedaris puts it). True, Cuenca is a city that has done just those things for me in the past. Right now, however, I am lacking passion and purpose here. For example, I spend at least 95% of my day speaking English. How will that help my fluency and comprehension in Spanish? The answer is, it won't. When my friend brought the idea of Fundación Mariposas Amarillas to my attention, I immediately felt a spark in my heart again- the spark I've been lacking. I feel an urge in the pit of my stomach to explore new worlds- to feel that helplessness and then overcome it. I didn't realize it until recently, but Cuenca has become a safety net for me. Yes, I return to visit wonderful people I've met throughout my years here, but I've also chosen to return because it's a place I know. A part of me can't help but feel like I'm cheating myself out of something more extraordinary than that.
But... I'm scared. I'm scared of letting people down- of quitting. I've never quit anything before in my life. It's not the "Kailhofer Way" of living and being. What will the school do? How will they find another teacher? Will my coworkers hate me for leaving? What about my family and friends here? Will they be disappointed? Will people assume that I'm just a "grass is always greener" person? Colombia is a "scary" place according to every website in the world. Should I trust all the incredible people I've met this year that have told me it's the best place they've ever traveled to or should I ignore the opportunity out of fear? How will I afford to volunteer instead of getting paid? The list goes on...
Notice, however, that not one of those questions asks, will this make me happy? Is this what I need to do? Will this experience help me reach my goals? I feel like I spend so much time worrying about the thoughts of other people. Taking this year off was the first time I've ever really done something that was wholeheartedly for me. I left the happiest time of my life in the States to live abroad and pursue those goals of mine. Shouldn't I make it the best I can possibly make it? And maybe this time around the best place for me isn't Cuenca...?
I don't know. What do you think?
Oh wait! No! I need to figure this one out. Ugh. Wish me luck, please!