Sunday, May 26, 2013

These are exciting times

Not so much for what has happened, but what is happening soon.  Isn't that what grabs your attention most?

Friends and readers, I have made a very important decision.  This fall, my girlfriend Tara and I are leaving the country.  We're going to go to South Korea and teach English, because we're young and because we can.  We'll be gone for about a year, and I don't know what we'll do after that, but I think it stands to reason that this will be a transformational year in both of our lives.

This journey isn't entirely an act of whimsical youthful exuberance.  In fact, I could go so far as to say I need this experience.  After nearly three years of searching I haven't found a job teaching in American schools.  The situation, frankly, is quite dire.  I've reached the point where I can't sustain myself as a substitute, and having set myself on the path of education, I can hardly imagine doing anything else.  South Korea presents me with an opportunity to change everything and start building a new life, together with Tara.

It's not absolutely impossible for a new teacher in America to get a conventional job right now.  I know people from my cohort who've managed it.  But it is exceedingly difficult, given the budget cuts that have plagued districts everywhere and the strong preference for hiring well-known candidates.  I don't see opportunity in the present situation: I just see a fence, with successful crossing more a matter of administrative caprice than any skill of mine.

The fact of the matter is, I'm not temperamentally suited for competing in a tough job market.  I may not be modest in the typical sense of the word, but I have an unfortunately fatalistic attitude toward seeking jobs I'm technically and theoretically qualified for.  Being no more qualified in tangible terms than the masses of similar candidates for most teaching positions (not to mention less experienced), I find the task of convincing anyone that I am the most qualified and compelling choice to be daunting.  Adrift in this psychological stew, I simply don't know how to leverage whatever "intangible" qualifications I might have to make my big breakthrough.

Were it not for Tara, I don't know that I would have had the courage to make this decision.  Hell, I don't know where I'd be or what I'd even be doing right now without her.  The idea for this journey was entirely hers, and she's made me realize that it's not only possible to change my life, but absolutely the right thing to do.  The world is bigger than America's failure to properly fund its schools, and the walls are not so high in other places.  We're finally going to get the ball rolling.

So while we wait for our documents to come together, and the good folks at Adventure Teaching work on hooking us up with Korean schools, I reflect upon life in the United States and how I expect to live upon my eventual return.  This country is my home and I love it in my own way, but to be quite honest I will be glad to have a break from it.  Living in America is exhausting: physically, mentally, and morally.  Ours is a country of profound flaws, made all the deeper because we've invested so much of our group consciousness into the idea that we are the standard by which other nations should be judged.  I'm getting tired of it all, and I will be grateful for some distance.  I'll be even more grateful for the chance to be rejuvenated by a new culture, and finally grafting a sense of direction on my life through real teaching.

Right now, Tara and I are in the process of constructing a travel blog, where we will share our experiences of traveling, teaching, and living abroad.  I'll continue to use this blog for my personal writing, as well as my Tumblr for sharing the assorted junk I find on Tumblr.  In fact, I'm presently working on redesigning this blog, to update some of its more archaic features and give it a good streamlining.  This is the future, after all, so there's no sense in letting things sit still.

This summer, I expect I'll complete a short story I've been "working on" for a while, as well as some poetry and a few essays.  Preparing for Korea will doubtless take up much of my time, but I have plenty of that to spare in any event.  And once we're there, I'll keep up with my internet existence, such as it is, through whatever forum seems immediately appropriate.  I don't know exactly how it will all work out, but I'm very, very excited.

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