-written by Stephanie, a current graduate wife
During the first year or so of my life as a graduate wife, I often wondered to myself why me? Why did God’s plan for me include living outside of the United States for two years? Why did it mean putting my schooling and career on hold and leaving my family and friends so that I could follow my husband around the world helping to chase HIS dream? I knew there had to be a reason, but in your darkest of days, you sometimes begin to question it. If only I could have seen the bigger picture, the blueprints for my life that God knew even before I was created, then maybe I could have saved myself the heartache early on. Then again, maybe the outcome wouldn’t be so sweet.
I am almost done with year two of my life as a graduate wife. And I can now say with certainty why I’m here, living in the third world country of Grenada. Within weeks of moving to the island from Newcastle, England, I took on the role of volunteer coordinator for the Significant Others Organization of St. George’s University. I didn’t exactly know what the role entailed, but I knew I wanted something, anything to keep me busy. I expected that my new position would keep me active in the Grenadian community, but I had no idea how connected I would become to this country. After only a few weeks, my heart had been stolen by the children and people of Grenada.
I currently run an after school program three days a week called “Limes.” We average 50+ children ages 2-15 every day. On a good day, we have 8-10 volunteers. We aren’t teachers. We meet on a public grass field in the late afternoon while the blazing sun beats down on us. Many kids don’t have shoes and their clothes are either too big or too small, that is, if they are even wearing any at all. The snack they get in class might be the only food they receive each day. We play games, help with homework, and attempt to educate them in things like dental health, how to treat animals, and respecting others. The program is funded by donations and bake sales. Most days are completely chaotic.
But, this is where I’m supposed to be. These are the blueprints that I couldn’t foresee. I know that now. This experience with these precious children has been the most eye-opening, humbling, and rewarding thing to happen in my life. I don’t have a job, but I get paid in huge smiles and big hugs every day and I promise you that it’s so much better than money. And though I don’t yet have any children, I feel like I have 50 kids of my own, because I absolutely love them all. The hardest part about working with these children is that almost every day I see their precious faces, I wish I could do even more for them.
The biggest piece of advice I could give to graduate wives, especially those living outside of the United States would be to get involved in your new community. Find something you can do once a week, or even once a month that connects you to your new home. Get involved with an underprivileged kids program, visit an elderly or disabled home, or frequent the local SPCA. Find something that helps you connect to your new surroundings and perhaps even takes you a bit out of your comfort zone. Maybe God’s blueprints for your life don’t include volunteer work, but maybe they do, and you just don’t know it yet. Take the first step and you might be surprised at what you find.
In your graduate wife journey, how are you connecting to your new community?