After the storm...

After every storm is a rainbow, and today I have discovered a big huge shiny rainbow here in Nanjing.

I won’t bore everyone with the gory details of last week’s lows. It’s sufficient to say: Mike was gone on business, and things were rough on the homestead. You can imagine the rest, or, if we are Facebook friends, you read some of it. Or, if you were at the PTA meeting where my child shrieked his way out the door in my arms (because I was the “wrong mommy” and he wanted “two cookies, not one!”), you had the pleasure of living some of it. (The poor child…I totally, completely get where he was coming from, since I was feeling the same way, and we actually had a lovely day once we got home.)

But something very exciting has happened. After many months of trying to find a real Montessori school in Nanjing and giving up entirely, I got a reply to an email I had sent out weeks ago saying, "Yes, there is a Montessori school in's the owner's email." And feeling very, "Yeah, right." about it, I reluctantly scheduled an observation of the class and decided that if nothing else, it was an excuse to leave the house.

But I was delighted with what I found - a tiny gem of a school tucked away in a random apartment building in the quiet Xuanwu District (about 30 minutes from my house). It was Montessori through and through. I tried to not to get too excited about the match lighting/oxygen depletion work or the tea service work (real fire and real hot water! In a preschool classroom! this would never happen in the United States!)

Afterward I emailed the owner to say how much I enjoyed my visit and that I would love to schedule some more observations so I can gain more hands-on classroom experience, as I've been hoping to find a few students to join me in my homeschool. She just wrote back, "We need to meet face to face. We have so much to talk about."

??? Well, okay then.

So it turns out the owner is one of the first AMI (Association Montessori International) teachers trained in Hangzhou, China, and for anyone who cares about such things, that’s kind of a big deal, at least to me. And not just AMI trained, but trained and committed to building a school in Nanjing based on the Montessori philosophy, and a total Montessori geek like me. And she happens to be building that very school as we speak!

And we’re now totally best friends.

Not joking – we hit it off, not just as Montessorians (yes, that’s a word) but as humans! We were hugging at the end of our 2 and a half hour meeting, which I thought would just be a half hour.

And we did talk about a bajillion things, but the bottom line is this: I will, most likely (as long as I can figure out schedules and laws and such), be working as a Real Live Montessori teacher starting in February in her super, duper, Real Live Montessori school where both Milan and Howard can attend (yes! they have an infant program!) and I still get to be with/near them all day. And I will be the school’s English and Music teacher! And all the students and teachers speak Mandarin, so now I actually have a fighting chance at learning the Chinese language and having an immersion experience. And I can learn the ropes of teaching in and running a Montessori school from the ground up. And the owner is just someone who is super excited about life and possibilities, open to ideas, as well as very skillful at her chosen profession and I have so much to learn!! Yay!

I can hardly contain my excitement.

And, this is all happening just in time for me to attend the first-ever AMI Montessori conference in Hangzhou next month and meet all kinds of other Montessorians and social science researchers (one of which I also happen to be) dedicated to promoting Montessori in China. Yay, yay, and triple yay.

And all this is to say, this is a perfect example of how life in China can be summed up:

The highs are higher and the lows are lower.

When you are down, you seem to be teetering dangerously close to buying a one-way ticket home. When you are up, you feel like you will never want to leave.  

And if nothing else, that’s pretty cool as far as life experiences go - anxiety, adrenaline and all. None of this would have ever happened back home. There is no grassroots Montessori movement to get involved in.

And all this is also to say: you NEVER know what life is going to throw at you and how your past experiences can be leveraged in the future.