Sunday, October 24, 2010

Opportunities and Possibilities...

My journey to Cape Town, South Africa is underway and I find myself with plenty of time for reflection. 31 hours of travel time to be exact! If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting in the airport in Washington, DC today, waiting to board a plane to South Africa, I would have said you were crazy! But, here I am and it occurs to me that it was always a possibility, as are all the events of our lives, dependent on actions, decisions, and choices made every day by each and every one of us. This, sure to be one of the highlights of my life on this earth, came to be because of choices I made in my life. I chose to change careers late in my life and complete the teaching degree that I had left behind with an early marriage. I chose to devote a great deal of time teaching myself how to use technology. I chose to spend personal time creating online experiences for my students. I chose to be friends with Rawya and become involved in activities that were challenging, but rewarding.
The wonder of technology has always fascinated me. I often think of all the signals in the air sending cell phone calls, emails, text messages, video conferences, and media here, there, and everywhere each and every second. I don't have any idea how it works but I like to imagine it in the air around me! With the appropriate device I can capture those signals to send and receive communications. There are opportunities around us every moment as well. As a teacher, I spend a tremendous amount of time planning and preparing to teach young children about academics and the world. Taking time to explore the opportunities is often difficult and time-consuming. But... if I had decided searching for an epal was too much work... if I had decided not to participate in projects with Rawya... if I had viewed filling out applications for contests as being too time-consuming... if I had made some simple choices rather than the more difficult ones, I would not be sitting here today. Ironically, the more tough tasks I took on, the easier they became, and the rewards are amazing.
This morning I realized that my responsibility for finding opportunities and possibilities does not end with myself. Perhaps my greatest task is opening the world of opportunity and possibility to my young students. I want them to see the rewards of choosing the tough road rather than always the easy way. I want them to see that hard work pays off and can take them places they have only dreamed of. I want to inspire my children and my co-workers to open their minds and hearts to the opportunities that abound.
I saw the world out the window differently today. In the past, looking from the window of an airplane I have always focused on looking down. Tiny farm lands, forests, and lakes have captured my eye and I have marveled at how they look from the eye of a bird! Today, I found my eyes looking outward instead, to the horizon. Suddenly, it wasn't what I could see below me that caught my interest, it was instead what I couldn't see. I could imagine the curve of this great planet below me and the land that was below the horizon. Instead of the world seeming smaller, it was suddenly gigantic and I realized for the first time what a tiny portion of it I have seen and experienced. I am filled with awe at the realization that I am traveling halfway around the planet to places I have only dreamed of.
In the Grand Junction airport this morning, a man saw my passport and asked me where I was going. As I told him about my trip, he shook my hand, congratulated me, thanked me for being an educator, and then he laughed. He remarked that the people at the forum would not realize how amazing it was that the teacher representing the United State of America at the World-Wide forum comes from tiny Craig, Colorado! I had to laugh as well. It is amazing and that is the miracle of networking on the internet. We all come from the world and that is all that really matters. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I am humbled by the possibility.

By the way... a teacher from South Africa who will be attending the event told me there is a teacher who will represent a part of Africa, who has no electricity in her school. She had to transport her students to a place where they could access computers to complete her project! The tough choices pay off! Hard work has rewards!