Girl #8 – Alix Gravel, London

I had the pleasure of meeting Alix virtually through Nazanin, our Girl #5.[i] Originally from Canada and presently in London, Alix spent the past three years in New Zealand.

Given she loves the outdoors, Alix thoroughly enjoyed living in Waiheke[ii], a beautiful island paradise with hiking galore. During her time in Waiheke, Alix biked everywhere, spent time at the beach, and enjoyed the farmer’s market and other community events.

Alix is a traveler. She fell in love with travel at the age of 16 when she enrolled in a Classic Civilizations course in Spain for a month. At that moment she realized “[she] didn’t want to accumulate things, but rather experiences.” Alix then participated in a yearlong exchange in France, followed by two months of teaching health education in Guyana.

A true turning point in her life, however, occurred shortly after college. Alix graduated from Queen’s University in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts and Science (with honors) in Geography and French. She accepted an offer to be a Communications Associate/Customer Service Representative for a regulatory body in Early Childhood Education. While she initially felt fortunate to have landed a job so quickly following graduation, only a few months into the role she knew a desk job was not her calling. 

After nearly a year at her desk, she embarked on a road trip with an old friend facing a similar crossroads in life. Alix articulated her desire to travel and to teach—to do more than write about education policies.

Alix returned from that trip with newfound clarity. She set her mind to realizing both of her desires: she would go to school abroad to become an educator.

Alix looked for two things on her search for an appropriate university: a location that appealed to her, and a country with an education system similar to that of Canada (such that she could move back home to teach without issue). As Alix has always enjoyed the outdoors, and the education system in New Zealand was/is similar to that of Canada, she decided to go to New Zealand.

Six months later, Alix had quit her job and was flying over the Pacific to her new home.

In New Zealand Alix earned a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning. Not ready to leave, after graduation Alix extended her Visa.

Alix applied for dozens of positions all over New Zealand, and ended up interviewing at Te Huruhi School on Waiheke Island. Per Alix, “It was a match made in heaven.”

Alix 1

This first teaching job landed Alix in a tiny island community of approximately 8,000. “It was the best decision I ever made.”

Alix spent two years teaching at Te Huruhi School, making many memories during her time on the small island—memories unique to living in such an intimate community: “Whether it was my students dance shows, plays at the community theatre where colleagues were involved, tree planting, watching soccer games on a Saturday morning, or going to grab a beer for a fundraiser on a Friday night, there always seemed to be something with people you knew. Coming from Toronto this was new to me!”

Specific favorite pastimes include exploring the North Island via camping and road trips; cooking, specifically through a farm to table program called My Food Bag where Alix received weekly recipes consisting of seasonal ingredients; and watching films, attending the New Zealand Film Festival, and going to see local shows and plays.

After two years of teaching at Te Huruhi, Alix decided to move on to her next challenge. At the end of April 2017 she moved to London—a city sure to contrast with her now past life in an island paradise. Long term, Alix hopes to impact policy in education generally; for now, however, she is in love with each day she spends in the classroom.

 

[i] Alix and Naz met randomly in the streets of France—after watching Inglorious Bastards (dubbed in French). Alix had gone to a park to drink wine (as one does in France). There she ran into Naz, and they’ve been friends ever since.

[ii] A small island just 35 minutes off the coast of Auckland.