I started working when I was eighteen years old. It was a summer job in the back office of a bank during the summer before I started university. I liked the feeling of being productively occupied that going in to work every day gave me, and I liked getting paid every week. It made me feel grown up.
Through my university years, I worked every summer at various places and occasionally during the semester, when I’d pick up a side gig for a few days selling football tickets; that was during Jamaica’s 1998 World Cup run. I liked the feeling of being useful and productive and I definitely liked getting paid. That money bought me my first pair of contact lenses.
At the end of university, I floundered. I had spent three years earning a degree in a field in which I had come to realise I had no desire to work. I wanted to travel and see the world and live in unusual places, not sit behind a desk all day calculating mortality rates and annuities. So I tried to get a job that would allow me to fulfill that dream of travelling and seeing the world and living in unusual places. I tried the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was soundly rejected; they didn’t even give me a reason why. So I tried our local airline and they rejected me for being overqualified.
I decided to try one last avenue and become a travel agent; I did a travel agents’ course and got a job at a travel agency. This was back in the day before Expedia and Travelocity so don’t mind how archaic that statement sounds. My plan was to become a crackerjack travel agent who got free trips to locations all over the world, and hopefully that should satisfy the burning desire I had to go far and wide.
The job was good for about four months then I resigned because I couldn’t stand the boredom anymore. To be fair to travel agents, this particular job was boring because it was a new office and no systems had yet been set up so everything had to be done in a really tedious way.
I went back to the drawing board, trying to decide what to do with my life. I finally decided that it was time to give up on my dream of going far and wide. It was time to be responsible and just get a job. So that’s what I did. I got my toe in the door of a large insurance company in a temporary clerical position and for the next decade and a half I moved up in life, topping out in my former career as an executive in that same insurance company where I had started out. Then I grew discontented and God orchestrated the changes in my life that brought me here, to Yakutsk, as a teacher.
He brought me here, to Yakutsk, to a time and place where I can say for the very first time in my life: I love my job. I love my job, guys. I love everything about it. This is surprising to me because I didn’t expect to love my job. I expected to like it and I expected to learn a lot and I was excited that it gave me the opportunity to live in this superlative place. But I didn’t expect to feel love for the job that I’m here to do.
It came to me a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning. I was sitting in the teachers’ room at school doing lesson prep. Only one other teacher was in the room with me so it was nice and quiet. Out of nowhere a wave of feeling washed over me. It took me by surprise because all I was doing was sitting there preparing a lesson. I took a moment to identify the feeling and realised that it was love for what I’m doing now. The feeling has come back time and again since then.
I spend my days wrangling kids, trying to facilitate their learning process, to ensure that their parents feel that they’re getting their money’s worth in sending them to our language school. They lose their class work, they don’t do their homework, they play in class when they’re supposed to be paying attention, they make each other cry sometimes, they talk when they’re supposed to listen. They can be difficult at times. So why do I love my job?
It’s because of the hearing impaired seven year old kid who, after our first class together, ran back into the classroom with his arms outstretched to me, grabbed my face and kissed my cheek then ran off again saying, “Спасибо!” (That’s, “thank you”, or, “spasiba” in Russian.) It’s three of my little five year old girls who, as I sat in one of their little chairs (I do it so I’m closer to their level and not looming over them), popped up from their seats, ran around to me and started patting my face and hair and hugging me and giggling. It’s one of my seven year old girls who said, “I love learn and I love you, Miss Kristine!” (We’re working on her grammar.) It’s my nine year old kids who light up and say, “Ahhhh!” every time they finally understand a challenging concept. It’s my rambunctious ten year olds who drive me crazy when they won’t settle down but who are all in when it comes time to do their work. It’s even my moody twelve year olds who I normally can’t get to talk to each other but who light up like New York City when I put them in teams for a competition.
I love my job because of each and every child I teach, including the challenging ones. I love preparing for my classes, I love delivering my lessons, and I love every administrative duty that comes with the job. I love it all. It can be busy and stressful but it’s perfect. Do you know why? Because it’s God-ordained. All the jobs I did before were me-ordained so they may have satisfied me temporarily but they could never have truly been perfect for me.
I don’t know that I’ll be a teacher for the rest of my life. Perhaps it’s a training ground for the next thing God has for me. But I ‘m particularly grateful that I’ve found out what it feels like to walk in His will. When I do, no matter what they are, my job and my place are perfect for me.