Happenstance Part II (The Colombia Plan)

Last year I had published an article called Happenstance, and you can find it here. In that article, I had mentioned how I was going to see an eclipse that doesn’t really ever happen and how I saw that eclipse during my time in Thailand. Now, this was happenstance because this is the same type of eclipse that happens once every x amount of years in my second novel, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa, also featured. In that novel, there is an eclipse of the suns that happens once every 150 years. It happened to be that later that year I published that novel, so it seemed that it was almost meant to be that I saw the eclipse before I published the novel. Now, it seems that my life has, once again, taken a turn for happenstance.

In the past few months, I have grown to be quite spiritual and have made it a habit to pray and also a habit to go to church every Sunday. I actually have gone to church now for the past month and a half straight which is something I haven’t ever done even when I was residing in the States. Why I’ve grown to be more spiritual is another blog post in general, and one that I will cover later, but recently I just had another a-hah, epiphany moment.

Real Life Example

First, I want to say that I think one of the most incredible things in the world is the way that people enter our lives. In fact, one of the things the Lord has told me is that he will place those people in my life who are most important, and right now, I couldn’t help but find that becoming truer and truer. For example, my best roommate when I lived in Santiago, Chile was this guy named Ted and I met him randomly on the metro one day.

Now, let’s think about the odds of that meeting. First of all, I would need to have arrived at the metro and the time that that specific metro train was leaving (they come every 5 minutes or so). Second, I would have needed to get on that specific metro train in the specific compartment that he would have been in (which would have been like 15-20 areas to board). Third, I had to muster up the courage to actually talk to him, and I did so after I heard him speaking English. At that time I had asked him if he was a teacher in Santiago as well, but he told me he was a student. After we talked about where we were both from and I said I was from Wisconsin and he told me his favorite football team was the Wisconsin Packers, boom, instant connection.

Since our time in Chile, we have remained in touch and keep up-to-date on each other’s lives, but I do find that specific happenstance meeting to be crazy. In the paragraphs below, I want to mention another kind of happenstance meeting that has blown my mind.

Why I Went to China

Many people ask me, “Why did you go to China to teach?” I would always respond, sarcastically, “China is the next country after Chile in the encyclopedia.” Of course, I say this as a joke and it does its job in getting a laugh out of people. The real reason I came to China, however, is because it would have been a new experience for me, and while I could have turned my initial teacher’s license into a professional teaching license in my hometown of Slinger, Wisconsin, I could also do the same thing in China with the same procedure, so I decided to come here and give it a go. (You can do anything for a year, right?)

Anyway, I was sent to Yixing, China and I was going to make that my home for three years because that is how long the process is to gather data on the students and show how your teaching affects their results. I was then planning on leaving China and going back to the States. However, in October of 2017 the requirements for teaching changed and I found myself no longer needing to complete my PDP (Professional Development Plan), and actually, the only way I can go ahead and get a “lifetime license” now for being a teacher is to return home to Wisconsin and do three years of teaching there. That is something that isn’t appealing to me because I don’t want to live in Wisconsin; it’s way too cold there.

Now, with this stipulation gone, I no longer wanted to continue spending my time in Yixing (it’s way too boring there and the environment was toxic where I worked), so I received word that a similar school in Suzhou was reopening its doors. From my travels in China, I knew that Suzhou was a great place to live and so I pounced on the opportunity and I switched schools from Yixing to Suzhou.

Halfway into my first year in Suzhou, we hired a new history teacher, Sebastian (a Colombian-American). To be honest, Sebastian shouldn’t have been hired by our company (his words, not mine), but he was hired. Sebastian has been a spiritual mentor and guide for me during the past few months of my life. And it is him I have to thank for this spiritual journey that I’ve since undertaken the break-up with my Filipina ex. Even more importantly, he has become one of my greatest friends and my Spanish instructor as I begin to make my transition to life in Colombia in pursuit of a creative writing master’s degree over there.

Someone forgot to dress up for photo day…

The Colombia Plan

Colombia is at the tip of South America, making it the perfect hub for traveling anywhere in the Americas.

In February, I had this idea and vision of Colombia and pursuing a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing down there and, with Sebastian’s help, that can become a greater reality. There are many reasons why I want to pursue a master’s degree in creative writing in Colombia and I’ll list them here:

  • A Master’s degree is essential for any educational professional. Unlike other fields (like business) where a Master’s may just look nice, but it’s really the work experience they want to see, a Master’s degree in education helps teachers earn more money and lets us be seen as more qualified by others in academia.
  • I don’t want to go into debt for my Master’s degree. I hear horror stories of people graduating college with 40K worth of debt in the States and a master’s degree can even add a higher expense to that. Colombia is cheap! The program in Colombia is only around 8,000 dollars for a two-year program. Seeing that I want to get a master’s degree in Creative Writing, I don’t want to go into debt with it, and while there are programs that offer it for free in the States and actually give me a stipend to do it, there is one major difference between them. Enter point 3.
  • The degree will be taught in Spanish in Colombia. Currently, I am not fluent in Spanish. I am conversational, but nowhere near where I need to be in order to tackle a creative writing program in Spanish, but that is why I have Sebastian to help get my skills where they need to be by the time I want to pursue my creative writing degree in Colombia (in 2021 or 2022). By doing a program in Spanish and living in the environment for at least two years, I have no doubt that I would become fluent in Spanish after my time there. This fluency in Spanish is something that a program in the States would not award me. Also, Colombian Spanish is one of the easiest and most-neutral forms of Spanish there is. It is very clean and great Spanish to learn. Enter Point 4.
    • What would happen if I was fluent in Spanish? If I was fluent in Spanish, well then I could teach English or Spanish at a high school level. If I was fluent in Spanish, I could communicate with more people and be seen as of higher value to a potential employer. If I was fluent in Spanish, I could translate my novels into Spanish or even write entire novels by themselves in Spanish which would reach a whole new target market. Regardless, there are many more opportunities that would be opened up with this route.
  • The location of Colombia is amazing. I am unsure if you know this, but Colombia is the second-most eco-diverse country in the world (behind Brazil). It has everything: beaches, mountains, rainforests, plains, deserts, etc. You can find out more here. Also, it is at the top of South America which makes it a key hub and middle point to any other popular destinations I may want to travel to whether that be more of South America, Central America or even North America. A flight from Bogota to Chicago is around 250 dollars whereas a flight from Chicago to Shanghai is around 700 dollars. Furthermore, Colombia is in the same time zone as my family in the States meaning it would be easier to stay in contact with them.
  • Colombia is new to me. Although I list this as my last point, this is one of the most alluring factors for me because it allows me the opportunity to continue traveling and exploring new countries while furthering my education. It allows me to interact in a whole new culture that I haven’t experienced and meet entirely new people. For me, this is great and something that I’m looking forward to.  

The Final Points

Here’s what I want you to take away from this post: People are placed into our lives for specific reasons. I believe things happen in our lives for specific reasons, and while some may call that fate or happenstance, I also believe we can see it as God’s Divine Plan for us and that we each have a divine plan that He is carefully constructing and leading us on. If the PDP would have never been canceled in Wisconsin, I would have never gone to Suzhou; if I had never gone to Suzhou, I would have never met Sebastian; and if I had never met Sebastian, I don’t believe I would be on this current trajectory in my life. Life is crazy, isn’t it?

Oh, yeah, and in case if you were wondering, the next country after China alphabetically happens to be Colombia. Isn’t that something?

2 thoughts on “Happenstance Part II (The Colombia Plan)”

  1. I Believe for both religious and non-religious people, we all would more or less marvel at certain happenstance or coincindences that lead us to the very path we are Walking on now. Ever since I started my job in Suzhou, for many times I Wonder by myself is it really my planning that got me here or it is just a coincindence. To be honest, I do not really like the feeling of not controling and be completely at the disposal of fate. For such major life-chaning decision such “where am I going to work and what my career would be like”, I really would feel more comfortable if it is a decision that I made through a very careful consideration and evalutaion, not a random dice call… Although, it is exactly how I ended up in Suzhou and this job lol..
    sometimes in life, the more you try to avoid Something, faster it comes to you.

    1. Yeah, it is scary to think about sometimes. Do we have control over what we do and who we meet? And, for the most part, of course, we do. We have that human endowment I was talking about called “Independent Will” but sometimes it just works in a very crazy manner. And when that happens it really makes you wonder. You’re right about certain things coming to find you; that’s why we have to always be ready to seize opportunities.

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