Nice to meet you! はじめまして! ¡Mucho gusto!
MY NAME IS KENDRA AND I’M A 20-SOMETHING TEACHER WITH A LOVE OF ADVENTURE, NO SENSE OF DIRECTION, AND BOUNDLESS CURIOSITY.
My story is pretty simple really. Girl goes to college. Girl watches “A Map for Saturday” documentary. Girl catches a bad case of wanderlust.
And the rest is history.
I grew up like everyone around me. We had a plan. School. College. Job. Throw marriage and kids in there somewhere and a two week vacation every summer.
Now don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood and I wouldn’t trade my family’s annual summer camping trip in Lake Tahoe for anything, but I also never realized that you could deviate from this norm. So when I watched the aforementioned documentary and was first introduced to an “alternate lifestyle” it kinda blew my mind.
“You can take a trip for a month? 3 months?! A year?!?!”
“You can travel all by yourself?!”
“You can work in another country?!”
None of these things had ever occurred to me before. I had always talked with my grandma about wanting to see the Great Wall of China but I had never even really thought about the world outside of the U.S. and the areas I had been in it.
But I had always been obsessed with books of adventure and exotic destinations and people going out and doing things even though they were scared. It had just never crossed my mind that I could maybe try to do these things myself.
I was me. I was ordinary. I had never deviated from my plan.
And then, in my senior year in college, my plan was derailed. I didn’t get accepted into the post-grad teaching credential program at my university and suddenly I had no plan.
Until I remembered a club meeting I had gone to earlier that year about working abroad. Maybe I could merge this new and fierce desire to see the world with the general need for a job and a path.
My first thought was China, as that was the only place I had originally ever wanted to go, but my family was nervous about that.
Luckily, I had needed one random extra unit for graduation in my very last quarter of college. My roommate asked if I wanted to take a Japanese History & Culture class with her and I was hooked from Day 1.
I had also been denied my first choice of research topic for my senior project and wound up writing a 30ish-page essay comparing the educational systems of the world’s highest achieving countries with the U.S.
One of those countries was Japan. Meant to be? I think so!
I went home and Googled “How to get a job teaching English in Japan.” That’s it. That’s how everything changed.
I spent the next year researching, studying for a TEFL certificate, and applying to all the jobs I could find that would get me to Japan.
In the spring of 2014 it was finally time to book a one-way ticket and start my job with Interac–leaving the good ol’ U.S.of A. for the first time ever–and move to rural Japan to be an English teacher in a Jr. High and several elementary schools!
In the spring of 2015, despite all my promises to my family about this being a “1 year only” thing, I decided to stay in Japan–two years strong!
I discovered a love for solo travel, a deep love of the Japanese culture and countryside, some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had, and a piece of myself that had been missing.
I realized that I thrived on being challenged in this new and completely foreign environment. I gained strength from having to do it all completely on my own (I’m a horribly indecisive person by nature). And it amazed me that lazy, boring me had actually done something so out of the norm and grown into someone I was happy to be.
Despite all this, in the spring of 2016 I reluctantly left Japan and my sweet little kiddos (who would hate me calling them that as they’re in Jr. High. But still.) and moved back to southern California, U.S.A.
Leaving tore my heart irreparably in two but being home I was accepted into a credential program and have been spending my time studying, teaching, and appreciating the perfect goodness of tacos. And family. And eating tacos with family.
So now, as of 2019, after living at home for three years and hemming and hawing, and trying to decide what I want to teach, where I want to teach, and just generally what I want my life going forward to look like now that I’m nearing 30 *gasp* I have applied and been accepted to the education sector of Peace Corps Zambia!
Departure Date: August 2019!
I’ve been feeling stuck for quite some time now with no idea what I actually want out of life and I needed to kick myself in the butt and get out and do something incredibly new, nerve-wracking, and worthwhile.
I’m going to be living in a mud hut with no running water and no electricity in my first non-Asian foreign country.
I have no idea what to expect–except that I’ll learn a lot about myself in the process and about a part of the world that gets a pretty bad rap in my country.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey–to Zambia and to figuring out my place in this world. “Finding Kendra” seems appropriate both because I have zero sense of direction and because I’m still figuring out who I am really, not just who I (or others) think I should be. A difficult but important distinction!
I very much look forward to exploring with you!
If you ever have any questions always feel free to leave a comment or email me at: findingkendraB@gmail.com
As a teacher there’s nothing I love more than getting and answering questions so please, ask away! The entire goal of sharing this journey is to help you do even one thing that scares you–I promise you won’t regret it.