When I applied for this fellowship back in December of 2010, I had a sliver of hope that I would be where I am right now. I was teaching 3rd and 4th grade in Chicago, and had recently returned from a trip to India. I had reached a point in my 32 years where I felt ready, no insistent, on finding a niche and intersection for my passions in life. I want to teach. I want to learn. I want to travel. I want to be connected on the planet. I want to serve the communities I live in. I want to collaborate with families and engage children in learning about themselves and their world.
When I got word that AIF had accepted me, I immediately thought there had been a mistake. When the incredulousness wore off, I began to really become excited about the possibilities. I also became anxious about the challenges. How amazing will it be to continue the work I have done in the U.S. for the past 8 years and apply what I’ve learned within the setting of Mumbai? How much will I get to understand about the nature of urban education in an international context and best practices for meaningful teacher training? I felt an almost giddiness at the prospects of such an exchange and the chance to really share my knowledge and experience with Muktangan. 10 years when I was in India as a student, I wouldn’t have had that knowledge to impart.
I have also been plagued by fears and doubts. What if my knowledge doesn’t translate well within an Indian setting? Where will I live? Who and what will my support systems be? Most importantly, who am I, as a white American woman, to come to India and claim to serve her-will my colleagues accept this?
I expect to find out the answers to many of these questions. I expect to find new ones that may not have definitive answers. Overall, I feel extremely humbled and privileged to be here. I will miss my family, my dancing 4 year old nephew, singing in my car, my bicycle, extreme seasons and deep dish pizza from Gino’s. But it’s going to be totally worth it. That I think I know.