Day one in Indonesia. Too many feelings to even think one thought. The feelings of jet lag, nerves, excitement, anxiety, happiness, and most importantly accomplishment. Since March, when I finally received the life changing e-mail that I was officially accepted as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, I continuously ask myself, “how did I get here?”
Lets rewind to the 2013, when I had a professor who planted a small seed in my brain after listening to her extravagant stories of teaching abroad. She had traveled to five different continents and taught in seven countries! I knew I was capable of doing something similar to this and nothing was stopping me.
I graduated from Husson University with a B.S in Elementary Education and after a gap year of living at home and “figuring out my life,” I applied to an elementary school in Lewiston, Maine. April 1st, 2014 I sent in my resume, June 22nd I was interviewed, and finally on June 24th I got the news that I was the new grade three teacher at Longley Elementary School. This was a start to a new chapter; a step in to “figuring out my life.” Tears of joy filled my eyes as I stepped foot into my new classroom. Three years later, and I can’t begin to describe how much I have learned from my students and how much they have inspired me to teach abroad.
During my three years at Longley Elementary School, I pursued a Master’s of Science in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. In that time, I taught students from a multitude of diverse backgrounds. Djibouti, Angola, Congo, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and a handful of other countries were where my students called home. The vast array of culture among my students was what really watered the seed that was once planted to see more of the world and to teach English in another country. After discussing these ideas with my advisor, he suggested that I start my Fulbright application immediately and have it ready for the following school year. After the lengthy application process, numerous essay revisions and edits, and fear of the unknown, I, Amy Quirion, was officially a Fulbrighter.
Now I am sitting here by the beautiful hotel pool side in Jakarta writing about the journey I took to get here. Not only have I finally made it to Indonesia, I have also met my fellow ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) who are not only my co-workers, but will be my life-long friends. We all got here because we had a similar seed planted in our heads at one point in our lives. Whether it was from a parent, friend, teacher or co-worker, we continued to water that seed and pursue our dreams. In life, people are too afraid to follow their dreams, hopes and aspirations. I was one of these people, and kept making excuses or finding things that got “in the way” of my dreams. I can’t really describe the feelings I have right now, but all I can do is smile at my screen in this surreal environment I am now in.