Me: Roger Jones, English Teacher and student of Chinese, Chengdu, Sichuan. I’m now in my eighth year in China. My pastimes include surviving culture shock, photography, writing, studying classical guitar, and eating Sichuan food.
I introduce myself
[From my first blog post, June 2005]
Wed., June 8, 2005 – At the time of this writing, I am in the process of becoming an ESL teacher. Here’s the brief story of what brought me to this point in my life. I’m turning 50 in a few months, I’m a resident of Los Angeles since 1990, budding teacher, disgruntled nonprofit arts employee for 20 years, writer, artist, holder of M.A. in art history, a longtime volunteer in the fields of HIV/AIDS, a volunteer trainer, and a midwestern transplant.
I believe that we have to continually re-invent ourselves. I’ve done it several times: through my coming-out process, in my 12-Step work during 15 years of sobriety, and now through becoming a teacher. In the musical Sweet Charity, the title character sings “No matter where I run, I meet myself there;” hence the title of my blog, Running Into Myself. For me, running into myself happens when I actually STOP running. I’ve run in circles long enough, and now that I’m finally face to face with myself there’s nowhere to hide. When I was young I was continually on the run. I finally came face to face with myself at age 25 when I ran to Washington, DC to work toward a graduate degree. I was faced with a moment of reckoning; I had traveled in two complete circles, to the same sequence of cities/places, in the incredibly short time of three years. I had hit a wall: I collapsed upon myself, mentally and emotionally. I ran into myself.
My journey toward becoming a teacher began 15 years ago: I trained as a volunteer architectural docent for a couple of organizations, and I have worked occasionally as a professional tour guide. Most importantly, I coordinated volunteer trainings for L.A. Shanti, a local provider of HIV/AIDS education and emotional support. Along the way, I have had a few friends who became teachers. Also, as I progressed through my 40s, I realized that I have not lived my dreams of travel and adventure. I have been content to be sedentary and to vegetate in the ever-sunny and dangerously complacent atmosphere of L.A., land of no seasons and where time seems to stand still.
After putting off the idea for a year, I enrolled at UCLA Extension in the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program. I still have a couple of classes to complete. For me, change happens slowly. I have also been credentialed by the State of California and by the L.A. Unified School District. I’m looking forward to getting some actual classroom teaching experience.
My current plan is to go abroad to teach EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in early to mid 2006. My preparations are now geared toward that – saving money, taking care of debts, researching where I would like to live, renewing my passport, getting some practical teaching experience, and turning 50 in December. Wish me luck. And good karma.