Mary Alice Hurlbert

Profile By: Alyssa Cunningham

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Part Three Traveling and Teaching Abroad

Mary Alice said the Head Start experience was so rewarding that she wanted to apply what she had learned in her own classroom. In other words, she was ready to teach. Still living in Omaha, she started teaching different grades, varying from kindergarten through the 6th grade. Mary Alice taught five years in Omaha and then went on to teach overseas for the Department of Defense School Systems (DoDDS) for the next 39 years of her career. While overseas Mary Alice traveled continuously all over Europe, the Middle East, and Africa where she taught at a variety of schools. During her first three years, she started in Turkey and then taught a year in Ethiopia. Next, she landed in Scotland. However, she didn’t stay in one place for long. Mary Alice followed a boyfriend back to Turkey. When things didn’t work out between them, she went back to Scotland. “That’s life. It wasn’t meant for us to be; he went on and got married and was taken care of by his wife.” Even though she was happy in Scotland, she had to move again because the base that she was teaching at closed. She ended up spending the rest of her career in Germany.

When asked how she liked living overseas, Mary Alice said her job was fulfilling, and she loved all of her students. “I learned as much from my students as they did from me sometimes!” She enjoyed traveling from town to town all over Europe. During her travels, she learned bits and pieces of many different languages, which was enough for her to get by wherever she visited. She loved dining and shopping all over Europe and the Middle East and witnessing how everyone lived. She recalls that her travels weren’t always glamorous. One time, she was at a restaurant where she sensed that she might not have made the best choice in picking the dining establishment. When her food arrived, she looked down and saw different kinds of bugs crawling around in her food. She said, “Check please!” She has a good laugh about it now, but at the time she remembers thinking, “Times like those, I knew that I was not in the States!”

 

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Part Four Returning Home

During Mary Alice’s career overseas, she missed her family a great deal, especially her mom. She came back to the States for special occasions and events. “I didn’t really have a family of my own overseas, but I had a great network of friends and people I could call family.” Mary Alice never married, but that didn’t mean she was never close to a happily-ever-after. She had two serious love interests, and one man that she really thought she was going to marry. However, when she took a job in a different town thinking that he would be there when she returned, he didn’t wait as she had hoped. Instead, he fell in love and married someone else who was more eager to settle down and start a traditional life. Mary Alice said it was a difficult break up, like