“So…” they begin slowly, always tentatively, “how did you end up here?”
“Here?” I think to myself. “What even is here? Australia? Koonwarra? On a Plastino Scholar Trip? Studying alternative schooling?”
I decide to respond to all of these questions and more, offering up a winding narrative about how I journeyed from studying the civil war in Syria and the failures of direct food aid in Ethiopia and the neocolonialist powers of the Western world to studying school pedagogy and curriculum and even, simply, how a school is set up. I talked about my inspiration for studying how different schools are set up and how those changes subsequently affect student learning. I talk specifically about the process of applying for the Plastino Scholar Program. I talk about my junior year, my family, my hobbies and my passion areas in life. I tell everything and nothing all at once.
“Well it really sounds like you have all your ducks in a row!” Sarah, one of the mentors (read: teachers) at the Koonwarra Village School responds in an impressed tone.
“Not at all,” I start, “it’s more like I grabbed all my ducks under my arms and ran for the plane!”
Sarah and I laugh together and Sarah adds my quip to the quote section on their online school portal, where they track the students and daily happenings at the school. Just like that I’m immortalized in some small way at KVS.
As much as I want to be that person who has everything together months and years in advance, that’s just not who I am. I know that I am driven and goal-oriented, but I certainly work best within a short-term frame of mind. Just because I’m thinking in the short term doesn’t mean I don’t think about the future, though. I simply have faith in myself and in my ability to discover my own passion areas in life over time. By remaining flexible and adaptable in the long run, I can take advantage of every opportunity that peaks my interest in the short-run. And who knows? Maybe that opportunity will take me half way around the world or maybe it will take me to Newark, Delaware. Both have equal potential to catalyze passion and inspiration in my eyes.
I know that if my eyes were fixed firmly on one future goal I would never see any of these opportunities, which rest just slightly of the path, hidden a bit among the trees. I’ve learned that it’s important to look around even as you forge ahead to find opportunities and to simply see the immense beauty that the world kindfully shares. Too many people go through their daily life without pausing to appreciate the beauty of the present moment. The world is filled with beautiful and amazing things that are all too easily missed. Don’t worry about your ducks. Put them in your backpack and suitcase. You have your whole life to figure out where those ducks need to go. Shoulder your pack, look around, and see what you can find.