Teaching Traveling: Welcome, Lindsey Lehman! Tell us what led to your remarkable teaching position in Bermuda.
Lindsey: I was born and raised in Southern New Jersey and had a very typical upbringing with my two sisters. My parents, who were amateur history buffs, raised me. Every summer we would pile in the car and drive all across the U.S. to visit every battlefield, national monument and famous person from history’s childhood home. There are countless pictures of my sisters and me standing in a field in some state where an important event/battle/signing of a document took place. As much as I’m sure I complained about the heat/bugs/dirt/siblings I was grateful that my parents took me on those trips. I spent important, significant time with my family and saw most of the U.S., which was more than I could say for a lot of my classmates.
I graduated with honors and a double degree from Holy Family University in Philadelphia, PA in 2007, and went straight into teaching. I taught for a year with younger children and then taught special education, which is my passion, for 3 years in a small non-profit school that specialized in educating children with multiple disabilities. I loved my students there; they made me laugh every day… but I knew I needed a change. I felt that I had outgrown that placement so I accepted a position as a Para-educator in Bermuda in the spring of 2011.
Instead of a classroom full of students as well as a full staff surrounding me, I am a private special education teacher for a family who resides on the island. It was an adjustment for me but one that I am grateful for. It sometimes is challenging to only have one student but I feel that I am making a big difference in her achievements, being able to focus just on her.
TT: How did you find this travel opportunity?
L: It was the first morning of my Easter break from school and I was on Craigslist. I spent about 2 hours looking through every listing in the Philadelphia area except Education. I was just looking for something different. I knew I needed a change but I honestly didn’t know how to go about finding it. I eventually, I clicked on Education and there was an ad for a “Para-Educator – Bermuda”. Wanting to see if it was a joke I clicked on it and found it to be, surprisingly, not a joke. I contacted the ad and sent a resume. Sure enough, I received an email back from my now employer. I remember running into my sister’s room (we were roommates) and excitedly telling her I applied for a job in Bermuda! The idea still seemed crazy at the time.
TT: How did you find the money to fund this travel?
L: I was very fortunate that my employer covered my moving expenses. They paid for my plane ticket, my luggage, and when I leave the island they will cover those moving expenses as well. This is pretty common practice in Bermuda for companies to pay moving expenses. In terms of moving my apartment and settling loose ends back in the States, that part I paid myself. There was a lot to purchase leading up to moving, including a passport! I had left the country to travel to Canada several times in my childhood and since a government issued I.D. was all you needed, never a passport, I had to purchase that in preparation as well.
TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
L: One Sunday morning, 5 weeks after I moved to Bermuda, I was feeling particularly homesick. With all of the technology we have available today I hadn’t been hit with homesickness at all, practically. I Skyped my parents, friends and my sister Torey who is literally my better half, so I hadn’t felt very far from them. But this one particular day it really hit me that I was living in a foreign place, 800 miles from home with not one single friend. I jokingly refer to this day as “Lindsey’s Dark Day”.
After video chatting with my sister, Torey, I confessed to this awful feeling and she basically told me to get out. Literally, get out of my apartment. She told me to go to the beach, put on my swimsuit and go. Even if I didn’t know anyone just go! So I did, I got on my scooter and went. And it turns out, that was the day I met my friend Kelsey, at the beach, who was in a very similar situation as myself. Moving away from every single person you know is extremely challenging and there are new challenges you never even think to prepare yourself for. Days like that happen when you move, but luckily for me I had my sister to motivate me.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a teacher?
L: Traveling has impacted my teaching style in a very strange way. It had made me more resourceful. Living in Bermuda sometimes it is very difficult to obtain common teaching items that we take for granted having at our disposal or they are sold at an extremely high premium. I miss having places like Becker’s, Lakeshore and the dollar store. You could just run in and grab whatever you needed but living here has taught me to forage for items in an unconventional manner.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a person?
L: Moving here was such a mental break in a way for me. Before I moved here I was over-scheduled and was overextending myself and it became too much. I also was contending with the fact that I wasn’t 100% content with where I was in my life and needed a change. When I moved here I became aware for the first time how much I needed a break. Because of this newfound feeling I also became more relaxed. It’s very true that Bermuda is another world.
TT: What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel?
L: One of my favorite quotes (and favorite women) is Heller Keller who said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Moving to Bermuda was a huge step for me both personally and professionally. I quit my job, packed my apartment and got on a plane with 3 suitcases. I moved 800 miles from the only life I had ever known to live on a 21 square mile island where I knew not one person outside of my employers. It was the biggest step I have ever taken, but 100% worth it. I was so grateful for the support of my family and friends. My mom likes to say she was “born with a suitcase packed” and raised my sisters and me the same way. So just say yes, pack your suitcase, and go.
TT: Thanks so much, Lindsey! Readers, what questions or comments do you have for this traveling teacher?