Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where I was, Where I am and Where I'm Going....The 3 month Mark

Today marks three months in Malta and all I can say is time truly does fly.  I have come to that crossroad where I see my time left here as no real time at all because if three months can go by so quickly, a little over five months is nothing.  In organizing paperwork, I came across papers of things from when I first got here and it seems like so long ago.  I was able to see for the first time how much I have changed and things have changed.  Simply put....I've grown.  I've been able to prove something to myself that I'd always wondered about....I did the unthinkable, or what seemed like the unthinkable just three short months ago.  I moved to another country, away from family and friends and everything comforting and familiar, had many a “what the hell did I do?" moments and now I look back at that time as what it was always meant to be ...a stepping stone...a growth process.

So where am I now? Well to be completely honest I still find myself, from time to time, in a place where I ask that ever-loving question “What have I done?", or better yet, “where the heck did I move to?", just not as often because the truth is I have grown to love being here and am truly enjoying my time here.  It is home, albeit temporary, but home nonetheless.  I have settled into my teaching assignments, enjoy them greatly and enjoy the company of whom I work with.  The Maltese remind me a little of my fellow New Yorkers in that we are not the easiest people to deal with or get to know and neither are the Maltese, it takes a while for them to warm up to you, sometimes I like to think the reasons are obvious as to why.  However, when they do, their warmth and graciousness is really comforting and even overwhelming.  One teacher I work with, Violet, is a godsend of a colleague but she is also very much what I like to call “a mom away from mom", she brings me home cooked meals on Mondays that either she or her mother have made.  Her mother actually puts food aside for me, she's looked out for me when I have been sick and invited me to her home for Christmas dinner because she wants me to meet her family...more surprisingly...they want to meet me. That means the world to me.  To be welcomed and looked after is something that feels so wonderful and is something that is much needed, whether one wants to admit it or not.

These last three months have given me quality time to reflect, to be in the moment but to also see where this time, this moment, can take me and little by little I see the endless possibilities before me and that is both exciting and scary.  I am acutely aware of the bubble I live in here and that I will never live in such a peaceful, laid back yet fulfilling bubble again, even with everything that has stressed me here.  For that I am grateful because before now, I never thought such a moment in time would ever be possible and it is.  This is my moment in time and I am savoring every minute.

It would not be a “month mark" blog post without a recap, so here we go:

  • Arriva bus system and drivers are still crazy, but what's even crazier, is for every short stop or sharp turn or lack of concern for schedule, it just rolls off of me.  I watch tourists freak out on the buses and fall forward and I...laugh...if I even notice anything at all. HA!
  • Coffee...what's that?!?!?!  Nuff said:-(
  • Fashion...yeah still hasn't reached here unfortunately, makes Christmas shopping virtually real options on the island and no easy way to ship any real clothing here so really smart move on my part to choose Malta or in the wise words of my nephew..."or was it"...because let's be honest, it saves me money:-).
  • Making it here was definitely God's handy work because I have experienced some of the most precious moments in my life here from being blessed with a roommate and fellow ETA that has become family to me, to developing a working relationship and friendship with a teacher where I am able to express my ideas and feedback and having them become like family (none an easy fete here), to sharing an unexplainable bond with the ETA's that I know no one will ever understand or get but us, to having students show love and appreciation for what I am trying to do here, to being able to look out on my balcony and see the sun shine and the ocean sway...certainly not something I would have ever expected.
  • On a not so mushy topic, there are things about Malta's school system that I wish I could fix with a magic wand, boys and girls do not know how to properly interact with each other because they are kept separated and the evidence can be down right disturbing at times because it is clearly due to a lack of exposure. And there is not enough room in this blog to discuss the unfortunate similarites that I see between the Maltese school system and the NYC school system that lead me to question what is happening in the world of Education as a whole, where are we going wrong?
  • I love that I find it humorous everytime now when I hear some of my most difficult students address me, for “Ms.ReeeveerAAA" will NEVER get old.
  • Nothing is more challenging than 12-14 year old girls questioning your every move and your reason for being on their turf. A challenge I gladly accept.
  • I openly admit that I did not give some of my students enough credit on their views of the world, however, it saddens me a bit to know that because Malta is limited when it comes to certain resources and opportunities, they could miss out on a lot because this is all they know.
  • For most things said above, I know I still have a little over 5 months here to really try to push the envelope, make a difference and most importantly to make my students aware that the word opportunity is not just a word but something they should aim for.  I have students that are really bright and some that are genuinely talented and they should know it and should always be made aware that anything is possible.  They should know that for every time they beg me to bring them home with me, it's a moment they are putting it out into the universe that they want more for themselves and they should!
On my way home from University today, I stopped to get lunch at one of my favorite local eateries, Mint, and I was asked by the owner how long I had been here and I realized that it was three months ago today that I arrived in Malta.  It was a bit of a whoa moment because with each month that passes they become more and more of a blur, which is not cool, hahaha.  I decided to walk home along the promenade from the restaurant and on my walk home, I just took the time to take it all in.  This is real, this is now, this is a moment that has and will continue to change me and my view on things and what I decide to do with my life, for the rest of my life, forever. 

I look forward to those changes especially with the holidays around the corner and the new year about to begin.  I can say with much joy and excitement that I look forward to the next 5 or so months because I am excited for visits from family and friends, to share my life here with them, it is no more just a place they will visit, but my home they will visit and that is very exciting.  I look forward to more travel adventures and most importantly, more “teacher" moments because that is what this experience is all about.  For every smile I get from students when I tell them I will be here until June and for every time a teacher tells me how much they appreciate having me around,  I know I am exactly where I am meant to be, helping, growing, learning and educating.  Making an attempt to make my mark.  This is the Fulbright life, but most importantly, it's my life and I only see it getting better as time goes on.  Pretty exciting stuff if you ask me:-).

Happy Holidays Friends and here's to a New Year filled with lots of opportunity, prosperity and happiness for all.


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