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Published: March 2nd 2010
After getting back from Nicaragua last summer, I was anxious to travel again. My life of exciting travel hadn’t worn off and I was ready to chase the next adventure. As I have volunteered a lot, I research Asian programs in Japan and South Korea as they pay the best for English teachers/assistants.
I took Summer/Fall 2009 to prepare to teach in South Korea, the safest and fastest growing country to take in English teachers. I applied for a few programs, talked with numerous people, read books about South Korea, and paid for paperwork to be shuffled. I even had a few interviews, which didn’t produce jobs. However, something inside of me was not feeling as excited as I should have felt. I was more dreading life in South Korea for a whole year, a culture so different from my own that for even the hardiest of travelers, it would be a difficult transition. This trip would give me more culture shock than any other country I have visited. I decided to stop the process and look in another direction.
Life in Europe seemed possible, as I had already traveled down that path. However, I hadn’t lived in South America yet. Chile kept popping up and it was there that I decided to hunker down for a semester.
English Opens Doors (Ingles Abre Puertas) seemed like the best fit. Run by the ministry of Education as part of an initiative of the president Michelle Bachelet, it seemed like a good fit. Six days before my plane was scheduled to take off, the 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country. It was hard to watch my future family suffer.
Chile was going to complete my adventures in living abroad. This doesn’t mean I won’t travel at all again: they may just be mere vacations or short 2 week volunteer trips. As far as cultural living experiences, I had cosmopolitan Europe under my belt, I had experienced life on a volcanic island in the jungles of Central America, and I was ready to check South America off my list. Although looking into a job in another country is a possibility, I am not sure if I want to delay the time I am spending volunteering. More details to come on my plan B.
Although I didn't physically go there, I felt like I still experienced Chile’s spirit: I had read works of its famous authors and even made friends through mutual friends who had lived in Chile. Their friends, now my friends, were ready to open up their hearts and homes. I was scheduled to fly in a few days before orientation started. My new Chilean friends, who only knew me by association, were ready to pick me up at the airport and share their homes with me. Being prepared emotionally and mentally to go and even connecting with my co-volunteers, I feel like I have already experienced the trip. For that, I am happy.
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I'm glad you are safe
Hello! As soon as I heard of the earthquake, I thought of you. As sad as you are that you won't be able to go there right now, it wasn't your time. You have so much to offer to so many and there will be more opportunities out there for you. Are you still in MN? I'm going with Friends of the Orphans to El Salvador in May. I'm very excited and I will be meeting with D'Anne Briggs today about our trip to Nicaragua this summer. I wish you could go! Give thanks to God for keeping you safe so that you may bring peace and joy to those you have yet to meet. Keep the faith my good friend!