Our life for the past two months has been consumed by this question. And this song, by The Clash, just rolls through my mind on an almost daily basis. As the song continues, if "I stay there will be trouble..... if I go it will be double".
Although it is now only November, the deadline is fast approaching by which Andrew needs to declare his final intent to stay at SSIS and renew his contract for a third year. We keep talking about "these past two years", but the reality is that it has been 1 year and 3 months. While I was traveling in New Zealand this past September, Andrew received his "soft" declaration paperwork, due by October 1. So the second year had barely begun and we needed to start thinking hard.
While there are good and bad aspects both here and at home, the truth is, it's a mixed bag. Is that redundant?
There are basically three options.
2. Go home to Oregon.
3. Try another International School.
Option 1: The easiest in terms of effort, staying means the kids stay in the same school - a good fit, really, for both of them. Elia has started swim team this year, is loving it and thriving because of it. She also was able to start taking ballet this year after school and continues to build herself a bustling hive of friends who keep her busy in the free time. Asher has found his niche at the MS and (except for the homework) is confident, working hard and enjoying himself. He has joined the Environmental Club, the Dragon Tech Ninja (mostly minecraft, I think) and just finished running track. A few weeks back, he was able to join other environmental club members in Singapore at an International Global Issues Network conference. His recent conferences show him to be kind, well-liked, well-spoken and a positive attribute to the middle school.
Andrew loves his job. His class sizes are great, his behavior management is getting rusty from disuse, he travelled to Indonesia this year with students on the Week without Walls trip, joined Asher in Singapore for the HS GIN conference, and attended a conference in Jakarta where he got to catch up with an ex-colleague from Oregon. He teaches International Baccalaureate (IB) Geography, which gives him two years to go into real depth into his subject and, in a developing nation, he doesn't have to go far to show his students geography-in-action. It is all around us, every day.
I have been plagued with homesickness this year. It could be the unexpected trip home with my mom after she had medical issues while visiting us, it could be the trip to see Rene in New Zealand, it could be that I don't have enough to do here, it could be that Oregon is just hard to beat in terms of all the things that help me feel grounded in life - clean air, clean water, good food, family and great friends, beautiful forests, a dark night sky, and sounds of nature putting me to sleep.
Option 2: Not without its difficulties. 35 - 40 student classrooms and behavior management for Andrew, schools for the kids, a job hunt in an uncertain economy for me, car shopping and a return to a car'd life.
Option 3: No sure thing. Could be better, could be worse. Could be more job opportunity for me, could be less. And, requires an immediate and extensive output of energy that neither of us have right now.
It's agonizing every day and, as we fluctuate between these options, we recognize that the mere fact of these choices is a luxury. Every day we see and live with people who do not have these kinds of options within the country, let alone outside of it. We have had these amazing opportunities to travel and live in another country, with a people very unlike us on the surface, yet so alike in the depths of our humanity. It has truly been a dream come true and, whatever we do next, I hope that is where our memory lingers.