It is a perplexed look I see on people’s faces when I tell them where I am moving. Without having to say a word I know the questions that are about to come. Where is that, why are you going, Nam…Nam bee-ah can you say that again? Namibia, I say. Trying to sound clearer in speech but mostly just in a tone of helpless annoyance. I have had the same awkward conversation about a hundred times and my responses have become so automatic it is like ordering a sandwich at Subway. “I know what is coming next and no Maria, I do not want to make it a combo. We all know that sugar water is a profit generating monster, good for your wallet and the makers of dialysis machines. Diabetes, no thanks.”
For me, the reasons are quite clear why I want to leave. I’m young, still have most of my hair, and am entering a profession that is increasingly becoming marginalized in the United States. Teaching is difficult. Frustrating most of the time with brief moments of satisfaction, just enough to keep you going and actually think that maybe you are doing something worth something. When the support around you erodes, you start to doubt whether what you are doing matters and that is bad for teachers and bad for the community.
So to the community I say, piss off. I am going to go to a place where children are the future, the hope, and the reason to keep struggling. I need the outside motivation, pressure, and esteem to perform my job with a strong sense of responsibility. This exists in the US, there are many people working very hard and who are very passionate about education. Perhaps in a few years I will be in a position to join those ranks but for right now, the environment is toxic and I need to be doing cool stuff right out of the gates. This means I am going to struggle and struggle hard. I am going to have the opportunity to develop professionally in some pretty ridiculous circumstances and hopefully a lot of good is going to come from it.
Being a teacher means I get to forever be a student, a lifelong search to learn and be exposed to new things. “Like those Nat-Geo pancake titties that are about to be all over the place. I’m thinking I’ll gather like six pairs of those things, start my own tribe, and never come back.” But more importantly, I get to share what I learn and have an audience that is forced to listen. Which I think, is pretty cool, along with Nat-Geo pancake titties.
We’ll see how things go, I don’t really know what to expect but that’s what makes it fun.
“What’s up Namibia, how you be, things are going to get weird when I arrive, I’m trying to get involved and also not get AIDS.”