Wandering Toward Meaningful Experiences

Acclimating to Island Life

~ By Johanna

Life moves in myriad directions, and I am often unsure which one I am taking until the last minute. For example, in May, on the last night of my undergraduate career, I spontaneously made a plan to move from Maine to California for the summer — or for good. Despite many friends questioning my abrupt decision, I adhered to my plan. My intentions for the west coast did not come to fruition, so I decided to head back to Maine, where I bounced around friends’ houses, experimenting a bit with couch surfing. In the midst of my nomadic meandering, I received an email about a five-month teaching contract in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I knew about Isla Mujeres and VolunQuest, the organization that provides English teaching internships, because I had visited the island back in 2015 for three weeks to volunteer with VolunQuest. When I was here three years ago, I grew a deep appreciation for the island and its people, especially the children at Andrés, the primary school where I taught. Ever since visiting the island after my first year of college, I hoped to return to Isla Mujeres. I also developed a desire to work with children in the future, specifically in the realm of TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language). So, upon receiving this offer from VolunQuest, I knew returning to Isla Mujeres and spending my time working with children was the ideal direction for me to take for the second half of 2018. I immediately began refining my resume and filled out an application to be a VolunQuest intern. From that moment on, plans coalesced quickly and before I knew it, I was packing my suitcase — which at that point felt like second nature — and on a plane to Mexico.

Now here I am, three weeks after arriving, acclimating to an island way of life, the schedule of an intern, and Spanish. Continuing to hear Spanish every day is improving my familiarity with the flow of the language. I am confident that after staying here several months, listening to and speaking Spanish will become nearly natural to me. I am fascinated by language and the ways in which it informs our thoughts and our words. For this reason, I am thrilled to be here to share my native language with children who will inspire me not only with their language, but also with their fresh perspectives and curious minds. Each day I am here I am grateful for something distinct, whether it be the genuine smile of a stranger, the notoriously savory Mexican cuisine, or the pure love received from hundreds of children.