“Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers.”
― Richard Bach,
What do you do after moving abroad when the newness wears off and you feel like everything has become routine? I hear many expats say, “I need to find my purpose here.”
For some, it may take several years to find their purpose. Others never find it and become disgruntled and dissatisfied because their adopted country doesn’t meet their high expectations. I arrived on Ometepe Island as a freshly retired teacher with two children’s Spanish books. Because of those children’s books and 30 years of teaching K-12 and University education majors, I found my passion naturally.
The neighborhood kids came to my house regularly to read the books over and over. It didn’t take me long to find my purpose. I did what I knew the best…teaching. I became a rewired and retired teacher…my own boss…and started a children’s library in my little local La Paloma Elementary School.
I converted a storage room into a library, made bookcases, collected over 2,000 children’s books in Spanish with the help of many generous benefactors, and hired and trained Maxwell to be my librarian. He took English lessons from me eleven years ago…and when I expressed my need for a librarian…there he was.
I Do What I Know Best
Teachers are master fundraisers. We know exactly what the students need and how to get what they need. We beg, plead, and seek donations, discounts, and items on sale like professional bargainers. We are marketing marvels…selling the needs of our students to everyone who passes by our classroom doors.
This month, Fuego y Agua Ultra Marathon racers donated the proceeds from their annual Beer Run to our La Paloma Elementary School.
Teachers have excellent shopping skills. We understand how to divide school supplies equitably among all the students, find age-appropriate materials, and buy quality materials that will hold up under much use and abuse in the classroom.
Our shopping trips to the mainland are unique. We have to take the ferry across the lake and go to many small stores to find the best prices and the supplies we need. It is always a long day of shopping. Hauling our supplies back to Ometepe Island takes strength, fortitude, and a variety of transportation including taxis, boats, and hopping rides in the back of pick-up trucks loaded with farmers and their bags of fruit going to market.
Teachers are aware, tolerant, and respectful of the needs of others. We understand the need for discreetness when buying uniforms and other supplies for underprivileged children. We distribute them privately so as not to create attention or cause envy among the other more fortunate children.
Teachers are the Masters of Ceremony. We hold assemblies, distribute school supplies, and believe me when I say…we enjoy every minute of it. We are all actors at heart and prepared for a performance on a moment’s notice.
We attend graduation ceremonies, shake hands, and there is always a lot of hugging. We love to hug.
Teachers know how to decorate their classrooms creatively. We are motivators, crowd movers, and masters of planning and organization.
Most importantly, we thoroughly enjoy being around people of all ages, genders, races, and nationalities. We are a diverse and tolerant group of educators who have learned how to ask for help in many ways…in many different languages. We have the ability to compassionately direct our classrooms with a variety of volunteers. We LOVE volunteers.
When you have retired abroad and the moment comes when you ask, “What can I do? I’m bored.” My advise is to do what you know. We all have unique skills that we can use to help others. Living in Nicaragua, I have learned that it takes a village to raise healthy, happy children. I am proud to pass on my skills to my local community, as well as to learn from others. It is true! We are all learners, doers, and teachers.
A special thanks to Fuego y Agua for their generous donations, to Laura and Ernesto for their donations for school uniforms, to Joe and Go for Hope for their donations of a new roof (the strong winds blew the roof off the library several weeks ago) and a safe for our library equipment, to Martha for her donation of a projector and supplies for our first aid kit, to Judy and the Red Oak Elementary School for children’s books and donations, and to our many volunteers who graciously give their time to read to the children and do special projects. Without YOU, this would not be possible. Hugs for everyone!!!
Do you do what you know? What are your passions?