I have heard this question countless times since I first arrived: What brought you here? What’s here that’s not in America? Why Sid, why??? Of course, I left home with a general idea of what I was doing and what I planned on achieving once I arrived, but I never formulated my reasons into concrete ideas that I could spew forth when inevitably questioned. So, here it goes:
1) My obsession with language – Note, I did not write fascination. Nor intrigue, nor interest in. Obsession seems to be the only way to describe it, especially after residing here for the better part of a calendar year. Recently I was bragging about how many of the Foreign Service Institute’s language manuals I have downloaded to my computer, explaining that I never can be sure when any of them might come in handy to solve a grammatical problem that presents itself. Really, a 716 page text on Finnish grammar could be invaluable anywhere. So when presented with the option of exploring a country where both Georgian and Russian are frequently used (two new alphabets – a linguist’s Christmas gift!), I jumped at the opportunity. While I am nowhere close to fluent in either, it has been a pleasure diving into the intricacies of both tongues.
2) Experience – After finishing school, I was faced with the problem of what to do next. Of course, with a degree in international relations and Russian language both the private and public sector were begging me to begin working for them fresh out of college (note: this is not true at all), but I decided I’d rather gain some real world experience both working with children, and attempting to understand at a concrete level the things I was forced to discuss in the classroom. Because of this, I have discovered a love for working with children, but also have developed a certain empathy for the people that I once considered as nothing more than ‘roles’ in the international realm. I am grateful.
3) Fear – Yes, you read it correctly. I came here out of fear! To explain, I was not afraid of staying in America, or finding employment in something other than volunteer English teaching. I was sincerely terrified of passing up an opportunity such as this, knowing well that it might be the only time in my life I will complete such a journey. I was afraid that not taking up this position would stunt my growth, the growth of my knowledge, my patience, and my ability to empathize with those who I could have never dreamt of knowing. And I have made the correct decision. I am not the same person that came here last year. I have discovered passions I retain, and things that I dislike. I have realized where I would like to go in my life, and how I can achieve said goals. In part, I owe it to this venture abroad.
There you have it. This is not an exhaustive list of why I decided to flee the country, but it provides a small insight into my reasons. And it was all worth it!