Thursday, September 25, 2008

Three Cups of Tea. Or, What's The Opposite Of Homesickness?

Yesterday I started reading a book called Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

It's been my commuting book since yesterday and I'm already some way in, unable to put it down. It's about Greg Mortenson who, after a failed attempt to summit the monstrous Himalayan mountain K2, became lost and ended up in the village of Korphe in Northern Pakistan.

He found in the village that there was no school, and children were educated by a visiting teacher just three days in the week, whilst kneeling outside in the cold unforgiving dirt. As they nursed him back to some level of strength and showed him enormous levels of hospitality, he vowed to build them a school.

And so his life was changed...

etc etc.

This has left me with several things to think about, so I'll tackle them one by one.

(1) I should really finish posting about my last adventure in Tanzania now. I kind of lost heart with travel writing a bit when I felt like I was going to be robbed every time I crossed the road to use the Internet cafe. But I haven't finished the story, and I really want everyone to know just how special Oswin's village was.

(2) I really want to go on another adventure. I not only want to go out and teach in whatever form the Hoja Project eventually takes, but I want to help build it. And I want to climb another mountain. And go horse-trekking in the Andes. Which is another Discover Adventure trip I have my eye on. If only the Andes were in East Africa...

(3) I've been working in my new school since November. And I feel quite settled and content at the moment, which is quite a new feeling as far as teaching is concerned. I don't really want to leave if it means I don't come back. I know a lot of the kids now, and I don't think I can face going through another first-year-at-a-new-school scenario.

(4) I've also been rather less involved in the Hoja Project lately, and I've got far more involved in Advocates for Action, a volunteer campaign group belonging to SPW, for which I have been creating some measure of web presence, and our soon-to-be-published first newsletter. That's another thing I'd have to walk away from, but probably not as hard as many many more personal things.

(5) I remember that in many ways my last trip was a disappointment, but Mpandangindo was amazing. And it's always the amazing bits that I remember. The fraidy cat part of me doesn't want to risk being disappointed again.

(6) Although it's best I get a couple more years' experience as a teacher before galavanting off again, I helped create the Hoja Project. It's been completely carried by other people who helped create it, who were even more underqualified than I am now. There will be no big issue about lack of experience should I decide to go jetting off again.

(7) I could just go over in the holidays. But I went over in the holidays last time, really. And if I want to go again, I want to go properly. I want to be involved, and use it as a great experience. And possibly a stepping stone to something else.

(8) As much as I feel settled at work, I'm not a theoretical pen and paper type, no matter how good I am at it. I like carrying heavy tools and creating objects out of other objects. Teaching maths is not my vocation. This is the thing that has been bugging me most lately.

Decisions, decisions...

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