2010–2023 Writings
by Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Where do I belong?

Written in


Where do I belong? That’s the question I’m living in these days.
I am an impassioned educator in my sixth year of teaching. I’m a go-getter. I have a passion for teaching and learning about social justice, mindfulness, yoga, community-building, sustainability and global change. In my classroom, everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student.  My most important role is to guide my students to become their best selves… conscientious global citizens, mindful friends, inquisitive learners.
Having worked at a public school in Texas and a prestigious private school in Guatemala, I wonder how “education” will evolve to inspire learning as our society changes in the Age of the Interweb. Sometimes it seems that the bureaucratic school system as it stands, stifles everyone’s potential with its endless supply of red tape.
Here is my long story short. I was born and raised in Texas, got a degree in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin, then worked as a copywriter, among other things, for a few years until I realized it was not going to be an ultimately fulfilling career choice for me. I moved to California, became the proprietor of my own one-woman venture, Yoga Freedom, and started substitute teaching in the San Jose public school district. Back in Austin, I completed an alternative teacher certification program and became a bilingual elementary school teacher. I spent two challenging years in charge of a third grade classroom of 22 students with radically varied skills in English, Spanish, and everything else. I then became a Bilingual Special Education teacher for a year. Around this time, I began to get the itch to move abroad. I attended the Search Associates job fair in June 2009, landed a job, and relocated my life to Guatemala six weeks later.
I spent my first two years at he American School of Guatemala establishing the “Student Support Services” department in the high school section, a difficult task, since I alone had a caseload of over sixty students with various special needs. Feeling ineffectual and longing to return to the classroom, I began teaching weekly creative writing workshops to English classes in the 9th, 10th and 11th grade, in addition to taking on a rewarding role as the K-12 Community Service Coordinator for the school. This year, I am back to the classroom full-time. I currently teach 8th grade English Enrichment.
I love teaching, and, so far, international teaching has been a fabulous adventure. So, here we are. Mid-October. I need to let my school know whether or not I will be returning next year before the end of January. I could stay, or I could go. I think I want to go, but then I am oddly tempted to stay at times. I could move back to Austin, or I could move to Lake Atitlan, just a few hours away and right here in Guatemala — where I could get a job teaching and would have a plethora of yoga teaching prospects but would also be financially strapped — or I could move to any other part of the world. Asia, South America, Australia, Africa…!?! Or… or…. or….
Too many choices! I want to shut down. Overwhelm overtakes me. I don’t know what to do with myself today, much less eight months from now. But I trust that the answer will become clear. I trust that I will land in the right place. “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be,” after all, as the Beatles sing. “All you need is love.”
I’m a single lady. I’m 31 years old. I love my life. Whether I stay in Guatemala, move back to the United States, or move to a new, as yet unknown locale, I will keep on teaching, learning, stretching and breathing!

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