Thinking about their new adventure, made me reflect on my own. If I have never told you my story about getting hired in Norway, here's my story...
I am a blessed person when it comes to the amount of culture I have been exposed too already in this journey we call life. My professional career started, unlike many of my other teaching friends, overseas and at a seasoned international school. The International School of Stavanger is located in Norway and educates Pre-Kindergarten through grade twelve students. I did not really know to much about international schools, but a large reason why these schools are important is because most parents are brought to the country by a company. Their contracts last between 2-4 years, but could easily be extended.
My intrigue and understating of international schools began in the Spring of 2007 in Minneapolis, MN after meeting Linda Duevel, the Director of ISS. I was overloaded and overwhelmed with the reality of having to find a job in the US and started to get nervous after not finding many positions for a PE teacher. My mind flooded with questions and I couldn’t help the rush of anxiety as I walked through the hundreds of booths at the U of M Teaching Job Fair.
Knowing only about the US school systems and 2 hours to kill before sitting in on a presentation that would blow my mind, I found myself only checking out States schools. I could feel the pressure rise as I walked from booth to booth, as I present my self and give my 30 second introduction only to hear an, “I’m sorry, we are looking for some more experience.”
I felt as if schools looked at me like a piece of meat and from the looks I got, I may have been out of the fridge for to long, because it didn't seem they thought much of my hard work and time spent at university. A new grad looking to land his first PE assignment and after four conversations I already feel beat down.
The first booth, “Awesome, California would be a great place to go.”
"Sorry Sir, that position has been filled a couple of weeks ago.”
The second booth, “Florida, some sun would be great after 5 years in the Tundra!"
“Sorry Sir, we are looking for someone with a little more experience.”
More experience, what are you talking about! I am a recent graduate, how can I have any more experience! The frustration, the audacity to come to a UNIVERSITY JOB FAIR and tell me, “We are looking for more experience.”
I am over it, I took a short afternoon snack break to talk with a couple of the people I went to school with only to find out they got the same. Booth after booth politely took the CV, glanced at it and made a decision then and there if there would be an interview or not. I have never felt like such a number, a name without a face, a professional without a profession; here I am in the country I grew up in, the state I was granted a teaching license in, and didn’t read the fine line that the Midwest graduated more teachers every year than what was necessary to fill open spots.
Regardless of what I was finding out at the fair, I went to school to teach, and I WAS GOING TO GET A JOB. I wanted a contract, there was going to be no substituting for this guy. I dedicated myself to graduating and worked hard to earn my degree and I intended to use it.
Enter my wild card. Dr. Duevel and I were in contact only hours before the fair. As I combed through the “updated” positions, I stumbled over a school in Norway of all places that had a male PE teacher opening. I zipped off and email and got and invite to attend an informational session at 11 o’clock. 30 inspiring minutes later I could not have been any more passionate about an international life. I approached Linda at the end of the session and told her how excited the opportunity of going back to my ancestors home country and teach has got me. To my surprise she DID look at my CV the night before and offered me an interview for 1230.
My mind raced as I couldn’t believe it was actually happening, A REAL INTERVIEW! I didn’t know what to do, my thoughts reeled faster than a Chetah on speed. How do I get ready for this? What is she going ask? Don’t international schools generally want teachers with previous experience? 1230 came in the blink of an eye and I found myself being approached by Linda, guided back to a table with literature strewn about informing me about Norway.
An hour long conversation, not so much an interview and I was flying high. I was determined that I was going to get this job. My feelings of overwhelming satisfaction about EVERYTHING, my education has been validated, hard work was going to get me some where, determination was going to get me a job. After getting beat up in the morning, validated in the afternoon, I would call it a day. I needed out of Minneapolis and needed to get back to Milwaukee where my night class at the local tech school was waiting for me.
Funny enough, after my interview and being so stoked about my interview I walked out of the conference center and straight to my car…which had a flat tire! Great my 5 hour drive home would be a bit longer now. After putting on the spare and taking it to a garage, I sat, put my music in and reflected. 30 minutes later I was on the road and calling my family to tell them about my experience. My mother had a moment of silence when I mentioned Norway, but otherwise I couldn’t tell her too much, I didn’t know anything yet either.
Halfway through Wisconsin and a couple of phone calls later a number came up on my phone without a name. My heart raced and I heard Linda on the other end. “After talking to your references, I am pleased to offer you a contract to come out and teach in Norway at the International School of Stavanger! You have 48 hours to decide and can call me back at this number anytime.”
"AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA,” I wanted to scream! I could hardly keep the car on the road and only managed, “Thanks so much for the phone call, I’ll have to talk with my parents and I’ll give you a call tomorrow.”
MY mind was made up, but I don’t know how Mama Bear would take her Baby Cub wandering so far from the den. I couldn’t control myself as I guided my car back home. Walking in, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face, looked up at my Ma and she knew I was offered the job. She held in her emotion as best she could and I could read her like a book, but her voice spoke something different, “By the look on your face, you’re already gone. Of course you have our blessing, we are so proud of you and everything you’ve done.”
Over the next 7 years of my teaching profession, 4 would be spent in Norway, 1 in the USA and the past 2 in China. As I continue to meet teachers, parents of teachers and anyone else in a vagabond lifestyle, I plead with them to give international teaching a shot. You and go ANYWHERE for two years, just give it a go!