On one of my first night’s home, my mother shared this story with me: In 1938 when my 98-year-old grandmother was young she wanted to go to France with a friend. The daughter of a woodcarver and an aspiring math teacher, she knew that she could realize this dream but that she would have to bike there; all 648 miles. Their minds made up though, they rode their single gear bicycles the whole way in 2 weeks, stayed a couple of days and then rode their bikes back. The whole trip took them around a month. Lesson learned: perseverance and fortitude. Instead of waiting for the opportunity to arise, my grandmother or mormor as she is known just did it.
It has been more than 2 years since my best friends, Laila and Julia, and I have sat face to face. More children, more wrinkles, and more life experiences have shaped us differently and yet we are still the same. Those old friendships spanning more than 16 years nurture me and sustain who I am and who I want to be. Those two know me better than anyone and every time we get together we are able to just be ourselves.
Lesson learned: those who knew you when, matter the most.
This past weekend as I was home alone with Thea, we were chicken sitting for my aunt. Imagine my horror as a fox attacked them and I was left to call my aunt with the news that the fox had managed to snag half the hens and all the chicks. While on the phone, the fox came back for me and charged a chicken close by me. My reaction: A blood curdling scream and charging toward it. The poor chicken ran inside the house, the fox ran the other way. Mission accomplished.
Lesson learned: You never know how you will react when something is at stake.
As I visted my grandparents, I told them of how excited I was to move to 5th grade and in particular what we had planned to do for our math instruction. My mormor, a former math teacher, instantly perked up and told me that she would really like to hear about what we planned on doing and to keep her informed. She would even offer up suggestions if she had any.
Lesson learned: Once you find your passion you never grow out of it.
Coming home I instantly felt I belonged and Danish is spoken to me automatically wherever I go; I fit in. In fact, I wrote a post about how important it is for kids to get the same feeling when they enter our classroom. I could only feel this way because I know the social norms and expectations in this nation, something most tourists are not privy to.
Lesson learned: Share expectations, norms and normal behavior for everyone to feel they belong.