by Susan Kellerman
High: Back to Madrid!
I’ve known for over a year that Tanzania was not a place where I could settle down. Not only is it just a bit too much ‘in the bush’ for me, the job I have here is a really difficult one, and one that I choose to not continue for any longer than I have to. I started searching for a job back in early October, and just recently did I make a final decision. While many people suggested that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go back to someplace you’ve already lived/worked, I’ve made the choice to return to Madrid, going back to the school that I taught at prior to moving to Tanzania.
It’s funny how in just a few short years, your priorities can change quite radically. I didn’t think I was ready to settle down when I left Madrid in June of 2014, so I sought other professional opportunities in an exciting place on earth. After having to live through that “excitement”, I’ve decided that settling down a bit is, indeed, what my soul needs. So, thankfully my school was in need of a music teacher again and I made a lasting enough impression that they were very eager to hire me back. It has been fun to begin the moving process, one that will be so much easier than others, simply because I already know the city and school so well. My excitement is, however, mitigated just a bit with the knowledge that I need to be prepared for life to be different than it was before and that I need to work on creating my “new Madrid” to be just as great as the “old Madrid” was.
Low: More loss
The hits just keep on coming, it seems. A few months ago, I wrote of the passing of my uncle. Within a week or so of that, I found out that the dad of one of my four senior music students passed away suddenly…and as is the custom with many families here in Tanzania, they didn’t tell my student anything until he was home. I was in shock that news like that would be kept from a teenager about to embark on university and having to deal with being an adult, for all the positives and negatives that brings. After a while of trying to understand why that was the custom, I decided that I didn’t have to understand, but simply to respect it.
Unfortunately, today I got the awful news that another of my senior students lost a parent yesterday! One of my female students’ mom died yesterday, just days after my student went to visit her in the hospital where she was recovering from a brain tumor surgery. This particular mom I knew quite well – she was very involved in her daughter’s education and we had very frank discussions about ways her daughter could improve in order to make the most out of her experience at our school and be truly prepared for university. The sad fact of it all is that I’m just becoming numb to the news of such loss. I feel like it’s everywhere, all the time. That’s a hard thought to shake.
Glitter: Swim Gala
As an IB World School, we are bound by the IB philosophy to encourage students to be, among many traits, balanced. One way that we do this is by having period sports days where all the students are expected to participate in some way. As well, as role models, us teachers are encouraged to participate as well. And, many of us do, simply in the spirit of having some fun, but many of us because we are active and athletic people in general.
Today was our Secondary Swim gala, were all students from grades 6-12 spent hours competing in various serious and not-so-serious swimming events. All students and teachers are assigned a house (think the houses at Hogwarts!) and it is a fun day of cheering on your housemates. Even us teachers got relay teams together to prove to the students that we still have it in us! While the teachers in my house aren’t overly athletic, we were still able to scrape a team together (all-female, no less) and display our skills. I love things like this. I love a bit of healthy competition – it was instilled in me from quite the young age – and opportunities like this don’t come around often. I will say that this is one aspect of my current job that I will miss, so I am attempting to make the most of all of these days that we have left.
Born, raised and educated in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Susan Kellerman decided to spend all her life savings during her senior year of high school and take a Spring Break trip to Spain with her Spanish teacher and fellow students. This was a watershed event, as it sparked her life-long interest in travel and a desire to one day live in Madrid. Fourteen years later, Susan was able to combine her career in music education with her desire to improve her Spanish speaking skills by accepting a job at the American School of Madrid. Currently, she is the music teacher and program coordinator at the International School of Moshi, in Tanzania and enjoying having Mt. Kilimanjaro as her backyard buddy.