A couple of months ago, I decided to resign from my job and accepted a teaching fellowship in Cameroon, West Africa. Before I made the decision to leave, things were going pretty well at work. I was a New York City public school teacher for 5 years. I had great relationships with students, parents and colleagues. I'd participated in several teacher fellowships and workshops throughout the city. I even won an award for my accomplishments. Although I was doing well, I began to feel caged in my comfort zone. While I knew I would remain safe there, I was no longer growing (personally or professionally) and began to feel the need to "escape".
I applied for a program through which I would teach abroad in a country of the program's choosing. They ultimately placed me in Cameroon, West Africa- a country I probably never would have traveled to otherwise. As I prepare to leave in about two weeks, I find myself thinking about the animals in the video. I'm definitely not as fearless as the tiger. I'm nervous and full of anxiety. I don't plan to run off to my new, exotic location without looking back (my four page to-do list and plan to return in ten months is evidence of that). Right now, I'm more like the chimp- peeking outside, curious as to what's there, eventually stepping out of the cage.
For the next 10 months, this blog will document my experiences living abroad. This will be the longest amount of time I've ever lived outside of the country. I expect to fail and succeed. There will be times of joy and depression. I'm unsure of what my life will be like for the next 10 months... and that's kind of the point. My hope is that as you read this blog, you'll think of me as the chimp in video. I'll take one step at a time, until my fearful frown has transformed into a bright smile and a contagious joy (hopefully). Like him, I'd like to encourage and embrace others as they step out of whatever cages are binding them. Until then, join me as I embark on this exciting (and potentially crazy) adventure.