Hello All, I'm Calley, ES Deputy Principal, new to ICS this year.
I am a big "making connections" person, and I have to say that this Sunshine Committee initiative makes me feel great about joining this community.
We are a family of five in our fourth international school posting. We were teaching at the American International School Chennai in South India when the rumors of COVID started spreading slowly westerly. But not too soon for us to squeeze in a late February visit to ICS Addis for the PLC conference and see our new campus and meet many of you friendly people. I even deposited my cat here with wonderful cat lady Amy Stempel. Little did we know that Spike would spend the next five months alone in the house with Amy's cat as Addis employees spread far and wide, and we entered lockdown in India.
With two full-time jobs in elementary teaching and leadership, plus a fifth-grader Rowan and second-grader Juniper and a 2-year-old Bryn to manage, and a three-story house to clean and three meals to cook daily, and no leaving the house for three months - suffice it to say that I got really tired of "toxic positivity" on the internet. Yes, the silver lining was the quality time that we spent together as a family, and I remembered that I love watercolor painting. But the truth is, this was our transition year from India, after 7 years, and there was a lot of loss for our family who didn't get to properly say goodbye to our colleagues, students, friends, pets ... not to mention favorite places and restaurants. We are lucky to be a strong family and we have worked through these times together.
In early June, I burned down the internet looking for repatriation tickets out of locked down India and finally succeeded after a few notable mishaps. We exited in a blaze of glory on an 8-hour bus, with some of our best friends, driving from Chennai to Bangalore. We flew through an empty Paris to connect to the US. I am lucky to have generous and loving in-laws who put us up in their "River House" near Salisbury, Maryland.
Personally, I experienced another bump in the road when I tested positive for COVID - mostly asymptomatic. Truly I think it was my husband Ross who took the brunt of it since he was now a single parent and my personal chef for a week during which I was isolated. By this time the kids were really "over it". After getting cleared, we spent loads of time soaking up the love of family and friends in Maryland until August, when we relocated to our home in Livingston, Montana. We floated the Yellowstone on paddleboards, visited my mom's cabin off the grid in the Belt Mountains, fished with cousins, jumped in the river, and I helped my sister buy a horse.
We are SO HAPPY to be here. Ross and I met as Peace Corps volunteers in Cameroon, we lived in Sudan and Mali, and Rowan took his first steps on holiday in Ethiopia in December 2008. In many ways, this feels like coming home.
Calley Connelly is the Elementary School Deputy Principal at ICS.