From time to time as I walk the halls of Korea International School near Seoul, Korea, I see a young man from the middle school wearing a "Monroe Cheesemakers" red t-shirt. Cheesemakers are kids from Monroe, a small community of 10,000 people in South Central Wisconsin. It just so happens that my first teaching job 25 years ago was in Monroe. How odd it is to see a Cheesemakers t-shirt in Korea! My worlds across space and time have collided!
But let's dig a bit deeper. How is this possible? While the story itself is a bit long and winding, it also makes perfect sense.
The aforementioned student is Allan the son of Neil who is a recent hire from Shanghai, China. Neil and my husband Brent were buddies growing up and both attended Monroe schools where I later landed my first job. Neil became a teacher, began teaching internationally and eventually ended up married and with kids and living in Shanghai. Brent became a teacher, got married, had kids and eventually decided he was interested in international teaching. Brent called Neil who helped to navigate the world of applying to teach internationally. Brent and his family (that's me) ended up in Seoul.
Okay, so that brings two families to the same region of the world. Good start. But what about that boy in the hallway at KIS?
Well, a year ago Brent knew that Neil and family were looking to relocate. He also knew our school had openings in the teaching areas suited for Neil and his wife. Networking and interviews did their magic, and voila, Neil and family ended up at KIS!
What about the t-shirt? Allan has never lived in Monroe, but he has relatives who still live there and they visit in the summers. So, Allan likes the mascot and got himself a t-shirt that he wears at KIS from time to time.
Pretty cool, eh? And here's a little post script. My niece has play dates with Neil's niece back in Monroe while my daughter and Neil's daughter have play dates in Korea.
Now if that isn't "small world", I don't know what is.