I’m anxious. It just keeps building up in anticipation of a trip which, in exactly two weeks from today, will take me halfway around the world to Jakarta, Indonesia.
Normally I’m a planner – I know where I’m going, how I’ll get there, who I will visit, where I will eat, what tourist sites I’ll see, and where I will sleep.
This trip is vastly different, mainly because I’m not in control of much of the itinerary.
Last spring when I applied for a grant from the US Department of Education to study global learning, I had no idea what would unfold in my life. Traveling has been on my ‘bucket list’, and trying to manage exotic locales on a teacher’s salary takes some serious doing.
To my great surprise, I was one of 63 teachers selected through this national competition. The criteria were described as being a secondary teacher of a core content area and having five or more years of experience. I figured living in a university town with a great international faculty and student base couldn’t hurt, as well as the international travel already completed in previous years. I guess I was right – I was selected.
After completing a rigorous online course designed to help globalize learning, I attended a symposium in Washington D.C. where I was introduced to my 10 Indonesian travel companions, as well as a visiting Indonesian teacher. Our eyeballs grew large as we realized just what an amazing experience we were destined for – not only would we be traveling to a largely Muslim country, but we would be arriving during Ramadan.
|Jakarta at dusk
Since then, I’ve tried to learn about the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Tangerang. I’ve practiced infusing global citizenship, social justice and 21st century learning skills into my 8th and 9th grade class curriculums. I’ve received plane tickets, had some emails with the Indonesian teacher I’ll be working with, and gotten to know my travel partner, Amy.
What I haven’t been able to do is quell this anxiousness that keeps welling up. It’s not the typical travel questions that have me worried – I know I’ll find interesting things to eat (but not between sun up and sun down!), the water will not make me sick (I hope) and I can survive the high temperatures and humidity. I’m planning how to sleep on the 14.5 hour flight to Hong Kong. I’ve ordered my electrical converter, gotten an international calling plan and even purchased a few clothes that are modest enough to not draw too much attention to myself.
I guess what really makes me shake is the unknown. The idea of going to a country where ideas and norms are so vastly different from what I’m used to. The thought of being so very far away from the people I love the most.
Yes, I’m anxious. I’m counting down the days. And yes, I’ll keep you posted.