Way back in the spring of 2008, I was working at a public elementary school in Indianapolis, Indiana teaching music to students in grades 1-5. I love working with younger students. And at the time, I was also working on my master's degree in music education with a specialization in elementary pedagogy. So, let's just say that elementary school is my thing. About the same time, my school district was getting ready to downsize from 8 elementary buildings to 6. Some crackerjack business person figured out that the school corporation could save money if they weren't operating as many buildings (bigger schools = better education, right?). And although I was assured at first that my job was secure, one Wednesday in February I got the dreaded call from HR to come in to the main office and discuss my "employment possibilities" for the next year. To make a short story a bit longer, they offered me my choice of middle school band or high school orchestra, neither of which I have any desire to teach.
Coincidentally (or not) on the day before, I had received an email from one of my grad school colleagues who was teaching in India. She wrote to inform the grad students in our program about a job opening in New Delhi teaching 1st-3rd grade music. So, not having a job for the next year, and having had it in the back of my mind that at some point I wanted to live outside the US, I asked myself, "why not?," and I emailed my resume to the principal of the elementary school. The next day (Thursday), she called and said she wanted to interview me over the phone on Saturday. Saturday she called and I had one of the most difficult, and fun interviews I have ever had. She knew exactly what to ask and really had me on my toes. A few hours later, the director of the school called me and offered me a job in India.
For those keeping track at home, I got word of a job in India on a Tuesday, lost my job on a Wednesday and was outsourced to India on a Saturday. When I was hired, the director of our school said, "Come to India; you'll never regret it!" Come to find out--three years later-- he knew exactly what he was saying. India is not the kind of place where everything is rosy colored and happy all the time. But, it is the kind of place that changes you forever.
At that time, Chad and I were together, but not married, and I came to India alone. One of two things was going to happen. Either (A) he would come to India once we found him a job, or, (B) he'd stay in the US, I'd do my two years in India, and then come back to the US and resume life as usual.
When I got to India, I had no idea what kind of social environment I'd be working in. Turns out that I work with the most open, loving and accepting group of people you could ask for. In October of my first year, a job became available in the technology department at school. Although the administration was planning to hire a local person for the position, I asked the director of the school if my overqualified boyfriend could apply. He said yes, and a month later, when the application period and interviews had concluded, Chad had been hired, and school purchased a one-way ticket to India.
We both find our work at school extremely rewarding. The school really lives up to the values we teachers try to instill in our students, and when we got married the school didn't bat an eyelid before giving Chad and I the same benefits given to every other married couple at the school (being a teacher, my benefits were better than his, so this was a pretty big deal to us). To a large extent, we've gotten accustomed to being in this egalitarian environment. I have to stretch my mind to think about what it would be like to work at a place that didn't recognize my marriage, let alone a place where we couldn't be open and honest about who we are. A few of our colleagues know that we are in the early stages of growing our family through surrogacy, one of whom is my principal. During a recent conversation with her, she intimated to me that she was so happy about our plans to have a child because, "Our students need to see that kind of example about diverse families." She's an amazing woman to work for and with. But, I could say that about all of my colleagues. No exaggeration.
Since we are only two days into this waiting game, I'll save stories about life in India outside of school for another day. For now, I'll leave you with a story that the director of our school shared with us during the opening of school this year that highlights the interconnectedness of all people (gay, straight, black, brown, white, rich, poor, etc.). This is the story of Indra's net as told by Francis Harold Cook: