|A little over a year ago|
|Began this year here, in Japan.|
People have often introduced me as a "world traveler," an appellation I often question. Aren't world travelers people who go to the most remote places of the earth, endure many hardships, and bring back tales of foreign cultures? I realized though that I might just qualify. I hardly think I bring back tales of foreign cultures--these places become my home, the place where I work, make some friends, and deal with daily life. Different, probably, from the way things are done in the US and other places where you live, but not "foreign" to me. This time I feel less prepared to manage life in a new country. I have spent very little time studying common phrases in Japanese. I plan to take Beginning Japanese when I start teaching.
Upon leaving Lebanon a little over a year ago, I met a friend in Rome and spent a wonderful 2+ weeks seeing the sights of Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Cologne with her. While I came to the States, she remained in Germany visiting godchildren and friends.
This year has been a roller-coaster ride of job applications, interviews, multiple visits with my mother, substitute teaching assignments, and involvement in church music, chances to visit with friends, and the birth of a great niece. I am grateful for each moment, each conversation, and every opportunity to play music. Though the year was stressful in many ways and certainly one of the stresses was the fact that I was not working full-time However, it was also very fulfilling.
I couldn't have done it without the help of my many friends. One in particular invited me to live with her. She said she was lonely but I also know that she has a very generous heart. I will remember the fun we shared because of her intelligence and sense of humor. She did everything she could to make me feel physically comfortable. Other friends showed me many kindnesses all year long. In that sense, the year was far, far too short. But, I was getting spoiled! I was surrounded by friends, getting to see my family whenever I wanted, driving around as I pleased, without the fear of chaos and mayhem on the road.
So, when UMUC (University of Maryland University College) hired me to be one of their traveling faculty, I was very pleased. UMUC's mission is to provide college courses to active military. Traveling faculty teach 8-week sessions and are possibly moved from one country to another depending on which bases require which courses. I found out today that the main sites are in Okinawa, Japan, and S. Korea. Guam is not counted because it is an American territory and served by resident faculty. The demographics of the military change and that changes the needs for faculty. It is obviously a very unique and fluid situation. Flexibility is critical. I also found out that many of the new faculty are seasoned travelers, many have non-American spouses, and some have lived overseas longer than they've lived in their home countries. Overseas experience is a premium in hiring. I understand they have had a few disasters with a few who couldn't understand why things couldn't be "done properly!"
Overall, I have been impressed with the enthusiasm, diversity, and accomplishments of the new faculty. All the military protocol is a bit onerous for me, as you might expect! But, as it's all digital, virtual, and so on, I guess it cannot be called "paperwork."
After a morning session of information and a lovely Sunday brunch at the Naval Hotel here, we had a walking tour of a Shinto Temple Here are a few images.
|Just outside our hotel elevator|
|A place to hang prayers|
|Ritual Purification (but I think it was because we were |
all so very, very HOT!
|After the wedding|
|The Entrance to Jeiji, Shinto Shrine|