When I graduated from McKinney High School in 2001, I was dying to get out of McKinney.  Although I was only headed two hours down the road to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, it felt like I was escaping to a bigger world.  I wanted to get out of my hometown and see the world (I know, starting with Waco was a small step, but a step nonetheless).

Likewise, when it was time to walk the stage in 2005 at Baylor, I was aching to get out and see more of the world.  I had done study abroad programs or international internships during summer breaks, but I was ready to live full-time in a different country.  After I received my Bachelors degree, I headed to D.C. for a summer internship and then moved to London to begin the MA International Relations course at King’s College.

As the years went by, and I lived overseas longer and traveled more, Texas seemed very, very far away.  I found myself, however, missing my homeland and thinking of the teachers who had encouraged me to “get out” and explore my interests.

Things got busy, though, and before I knew it I was at my ten year high school reunion.  It was great to see familiar faces, many of whom I had not seen for a decade, but I also began to think more and more about my high school (and college) teachers who had made such great impressions on my life over the years.

So, I decided to take some time to hunt them down and tell them “thank you,” something that I should have done long ago.  Talk about a trip down memory lane.

I started with my favorite high school teacher, Mrs. Chandler, who once put in a video to entertain our Humanities class and took me to the teacher’s lounge to get a Coke and listen to me vent about my confusion over whether I should go to Baylor or Wake Forest. Thanks to Facebook and Google, it’s easier than ever to find people that you’re looking for.  Soon Mrs. Chandler and I were Facebook friends and started to catch up on the last ten years.

I sat down and made a list of other teachers to touch base with and thank for their influence.  There was Mrs. Presley, my high school student council and government/economics teacher who, as student body president, I spent more time with than my own mother senior year (Homecoming, dances, leadership conferences–our student council was awesome).  There was Senor Place, my high school Spanish teacher who had encouraged me to continue studying Spanish.  I thanked him for his encouragement and told him that I had indeed studied Spanish, in Spain, Argentina, Chile, and other places, and that he was in part to thank for that.

There was also Dr. Hinojosa at Baylor, whose classes I loved–Latin American Politics and International Relations.  I found his university email and wrote him a note giving him an update on my life and thanking him for encouraging me to see the world.

As I thought back through the years, and those teachers who shaped my life without me even realizing it, I wished that I had looked them up earlier and given them the thanks they so rightfully deserved.  But, better late than never I suppose.

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