During my junior year of college I thought I would need to leave school in order to pay the rent. Before withdrawing from classes, I applied for one more job on campus. A friend had mentioned an opening at the English Language Institute, where international students came to study English before going on to university studies. I walked into the ELI, asked about the job, and was led to a back room for an interview on the spot.
The man interviewing me was somewhat famous on campus. His name was up on posters everywhere, as he was always recruiting native English speakers to be paired with his international students for conversation practice. I’d meant to volunteer but hadn’t gotten around to it. Now I was interviewing to be his assistant.
So I thought. It became clear during the course of the interview that the director was moving out of state and I was interviewing for his position. The job offer came a few days later—unexpected, unbelievable. I finished college because of that job and continued working at the ELI after graduation, right up until I went to Damascus (where I met Todd) and became an international student myself.
When Todd and I married, we moved to Philadelphia with $300 cash and a tiny U-Haul trailer packed with books and a futon. We had an apartment and a promise from Todd’s grandmother to pay seminary tuition, but no jobs. I walked into Drexel University’s English Language Center and walked out with a job. Unfortunately, the job was part-time and just barely supported us. A few months later I interviewed for an office job, working for a Christian radio broadcast. My new boss at the radio broadcast saw writing and editing talent I didn’t even know I had. Thanks, Diana!
Back to the full circle thing. Last summer our girls were part of a drama camp during our first weeks in Newberg, and at the closing picnic I met another parent who works at the English Language Institute at George Fox University. I told him I’d once worked in ESL, and he encouraged me to drop by the ELI once the fall semester was under way so he could introduce me to folks there. Things didn’t come together for the fall semester, but last week I was offered a part-time course load teaching speech (my bachelor’s degree is in speech communications) and a few writing tutorials for ESL students. For the first time since I left the radio broadcast sixteen years ago (and not counting freelance work), I have a job!
I’ll keep up my own writing. I’ll continue freelancing with editing and critique on projects I really love. As I look at the blinking lights on our Christmas tree and the gifts loaded beneath it, I’m thinking about how excited I am to unwrap this neat package that has been placed before me: a convergence of employment doing what I enjoy. Merry Christmas, folks.