Liberal Arts Giving Up - On her first day of kindergarten, Becky Moreland Palisuri knew she wanted to be a teacher. She was the kind of kid who’d go home after school and play pretend-school until suppertime, and teaching was an obsession that stuck with her unwaveringly all the way through CCU’s program in elementary education. She envisioned a class of manicured, smiling children, in a school near her family in Colorado. Of all places to end up, who would have expected the rim of the Indian Ocean among the world’s largest Muslim population?
After college, during the summer of 2002, Becky held positions substitute teaching and helping to direct a preschool while she searched for faculty openings in local schools. It seemed like the harder she tried, the less she found. So she did something completely compulsive: surrendered her life’s teaching plans to God.
Within one week, her high-school English teacher called with an unexpected job offer—in England. Becky became a nanny at a training school in London, alongside internationals from Korea and South America. There, God helped her see teaching outside the box, and a new desire grew in her to teach in multinational settings. Just a few months after arriving back stateside, she entered into a contract to teach second grade at an international school in Indonesia.
The first year of teaching can be overwhelming, but doing it a foreign culture is a whole different ballgame. At 24 years old, Becky stood in an airport terminal awaiting her overseas adventure, as her family worried about her heading so far away, alone. To her, however, “it was obvious that this was God’s will. If anything, it would have been harder to resist.”
Becky spent four years in Indonesia teaching children from different faith backgrounds from around the world, experiencing great challenges and joys along the way. In her classroom and beyond, she shared Christ’s love as much as possible. There were times when loneliness overwhelmed her to the point of tears, but God surrounded her with affirming moments and good friends. He even threw in a surprise husband. Andi, an Indonesian native, joined the school faculty not long after Becky did and the two of them were soon married. In 2008, they returned to Colorado and to CCU, where Becky joined the admissions staff, taking a break from teaching while working on her master’s degree.
She says she couldn’t have asked for a better college training ground. Becky remembers learning through a broad curriculum that ranged from children’s literature to classroom management and educational psychology, and real-world experiences during numerous student-teaching sessions with master teachers. Her professors, who know her by name to this day, had strong backgrounds in teaching and school administration. She was also challenged to own her faith instead of riding her parents’ spiritual coattails, no matter how good they were. All of this combined growth is what helped her step forward on her own.
Becky did become a teacher—with a wedding bonus—yet it was a far cry from anything she’d expected. Maybe that was the point all along: to be open with raw sincerity to God’s lead, trusting He really is ushering you toward fulfillment. Becky did, and over time, things that once seemed unfamiliar brought comfort and a sense of belonging, she says. It’s hard to find the words, since “life-changing” doesn’t even come close.