Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First reflections on years spent as an ELF

With my final reports finally written, the expense reports in the mail, and a workload that now consists of job hunting, I've had a moment to reflect on the time that I've spent living in Latin America.

I'm thinking seriously about writing, not only to publish on teaching EFL, but for fun. I've learn a great deal about life and what it means to me, not only at a professional level, but personally as well. And what it means to other people. About the "perlas" both good and bad. I have more than four years of blogs and journals, sketches on pieces of napkin, and photos. It in no way can describe the experiences that I've had, and even less, those to come. What have I learned:
  1. I'm finally ready to go back to school to do my doctorate.  I'm reading again, a lot, and for fun, which is a good sign. I might have to export myself to a warm climate during breaks, but I wish I could start now. 
  2. Getting visas is never fun.
  3. People take advantage of each other everywhere, but there are many life-long friends that I've made in the past four years.  A friend is a friend, no matter for how little time you have known them. Those are the ones that you keep for life, and even if you only talk to them once a year, you always think about them, and make the effort to keep in touch. 
  4. I have opportunities, but then again, I don't. I regret having to leave a life that was in many respects much simpler and enjoyable.  Money and material goods are most definitely not everything. 
  5. I've learned as much from others as I have taught them, if not more. 
  6. I will never permanently stay in the U.S., even though I may have to live here for a while. I am excited to be back in communities where I can play an active role as a volunteer. 
  7. Foreign service fascinates me, especially for being a career path that I had never even considered when I became a fellow.
  8. I can indeed drive in other countries without killing myself or others, and I was setting up moto lessons when I left!
  9. Simple is better. I'm in the process of downsizing all of my belongings now, and will avoid upsizing as long as I can.
  10. There is really nothing better than Colombian coffee, no matter what Salvadorans say.
  11. Just visiting a place doesn't allow you to know it. Neither does living there.  I can't force anyone back home to understand what it means to live abroad. I can only tell them, and try to help them understand.
  12. I now mumble to myself in Spanish rather than English.
This is just my preliminary list; I'm sure it will grow.  I haven't even been back for a week yet, and have spent most of my time applying for jobs, but I've still got a lot left to say.  

1 comment:

Jim Doman said...

Hi Erin,

Best of luck as you move forward. It was a treat meeting you in El Salvador and I hope to see you again sometime.