Fulbright Friends

Two weekends in a row we have had the fortunate opportunity to hook up with other Fulbright teachers who are living near us.  Cindy Hardy lives just southeast of Leicester, in Kibworth.  She is from Chicago and is over here with her twin teenage boys and her daughter.  The boys are in high school, and her daughter is a Year 7, so in middle school.

All of us at the Melton Mowbray Food and Drink Festival. Eight Americans in the middle of England drew little attention, though one bloke thought we were all from New York City. I had to explain where Oregon was to him and I don’t think he quite knew.

The Food and Drink Festival, right around the corner from our home, was the perfect excuse to get Cindy to come on over.  We had a great afternoon trying out some foods, some drinks, and just a chance to talk.  She and I needed a little time just to bounce our experiences off each other.  Her boys loved Melton and found it a ‘big town’, which we found funny.  Kibworth must be really small.  We hope to go south and visit them sometime in November.  There is the Diwali Festival in Leicester and we may all meet up for that.  Apparently it is the largest Diwali Festival outside of India!

Zachary got himself a bison burger earlier from this vendor, but now the kids are enjoying ice cream.  My new Giants cap is covering my first haircut overseas in a long time.

Milking a fake cow.
I bought some whiskey from a small distiller, coffee from a local roaster, olde fashioned licorice from someone else, and a reuben sandwich from a bloke who, as I said before, thought we were all from NYC.

Rachel, Annika, and Zachary contemplating being Americans abroad.

Last weekend we drove south to Woburn Sands, a town near Milton Keynes, which is a small city about 50 miles north of London.  There abodes Rebecca Smith, a teacher from Alabama.  She and I first met in Denver back in May and found a lot of common ground as people as well as teachers.

She lives in a modern townhouse, with central heat, a large upright fridge/freezer, and about 300 DVDs.  I was a tad jealous of its modern feel.

Zachary with his bear Henry, which children in his class take home for a week to enjoy adventures with students.

We chatted with Rebecca, and then went out for a walk.  Her town is close to a couple small villages and we figured we would just walk to them, grab a bite to eat, and talk.  Well, the sun gave way to massive rain so we found ourselves in a Woburn Sands pub for our bite.

Afterwards we walked around the corner to see a monument erected to Greg Rutherford, who won gold in the mens long jump at this year’s London Olympics.

We are trying our best to cover the length of his jump, to no avail. The darn sun came out and washed out my Rebecca.

Through the woods and out onto a farmer’s field. This part of the day was real special and felt very English. The town of Aspley Guise is behind us in the trees. A very upscale village.

Rebecca and I in front of her school. She usually teaches fourth grade, like me, but is teaching fifth grade at a middle school. Her school is quite modern and looked very nice from the outside. She is very happy there and we are happy for her!

A war monument in Woburn Sands…moments before the rain fell on us. Actually you can see the rain beginning to fall in this photo.

Rebecca (Sturges) and I agreed that it was really nice to hook up with other American teachers having the same kind of experiences that we are.  Cindy, with her kids, faces many of the same daily challenges we as families do.  Rebecca Smith has similar challenges as I do as we learn how to effectively teach over here.  I was glad to know that Ms Smith was making connections with many of the other teachers as well.  All Fulbright teachers in England are women, and there are only a couple blokes up in Scotland.  Rebecca has been able to make arrangements with the other female teachers and is going places with them when she can.  Cindy and I do not have to deal with loneliness as much as many of our counterparts must be going through because of our families.  I wish I could see more Fulbright teachers, but traveling with a family is a different kettle of fish.  Hopefully we can get up North to see other teachers soon.  Any and all are invited to see us in Melton!

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