Mostly On the Resume

Alison Melotti-Cormack was born in 1951 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The oldest of what would become three girls, she survived her primary school years in rural Abbotsford through long walks across the beauty of New Zealand, reading her way through rural libraries, and by writing lengthy adventure stories inspired by Black Beauty and The Famous Five. She went on to Kaikorai Valley High School where she wrote bad poetry and inspirational speeches.

By the end of 1972, Alison had managed to survive the tumultuous 60’s and graduated with a BA in Psychology from Otago University. Plans A and B for her life dissolved early, but she discovered a surprising flicker of passion for teaching and graduated from Dunedin Teachers College in 1974. Two years later she packed her belongings into a yellow backpack and began what has become a life-long adventure that traverses the world.

Alison’s teaching career expanded from elementary school in New Zealand to teaching English as a Second Language in Iran, Libya, Turkey, and Northern Cypress, all places where she has borne witness to the unfolding of history. Her two children, Alex and Nick, were born in Adana, Turkey far from family and western medicine.

In 1989, Alison embraced one more item on her “I will never” list and settled in America. Since then she has taught in elementary, special needs, and high schools in Pennsylvania and Maryland while earning two Masters degrees from Vermont College. She has also delved into life experiences as a counselor, entrepreneur, workshop developer, part-time journalist, and award-winning but starving artist. She has published essays in two of the Love Revealed series edited by Dena Ward Clayton. Her essay, Gestures of Grace, was selected as one of four to represent educator viewpoints in NPR’s This I Believe salute to Educator’s week.

Alison retired from full time teaching in 2018. She published her first memoir A Good Batch of Scones in 2017 and is currently working on a novel and a second memoir tentatively entitled A Standing Place for the Feet. She explores topics of belonging, home, grief, and the feminine in her memoirs, fiction, and poetry. She is deeply committed to exploring the internal and external landscapes created by personal perception, language, and belief.

Alison lives in West Virginia and writes in partnership with Harriett Diller in particular and the Maryland Writers Guild in general.

Not On my Resume, But Important

It is astonishing to me that I can look back and still clearly see my first group of students. They were an institutionalized group of children labeled “severely physically and mentally handicapped.” Many of them were wards of the state. They resided in one ward of a now defunct mental institution. Perhaps it was these students who inspired me to continue to work in education despite my life-long reluctance to be a teacher.

I have learned to overcome adversity whether it was living below the poverty level, raising two children as a single parent, or surviving a revolution. I have also learned to stand up for those in need of a helping hand and for the principles of peace and human rights. For many years, my mother kept what was one of my first appearances on the front page of a newspaper. I was probably about sixteen years old and marching with a sign that read, “Bandages for Bandung.” I no longer remember why Bandung needed bandages, but it was important enough for me to show up. It would not be my last appearance on a newspaper page holding a sign. I have been a life-long pacifist and activist. I became an American citizen in 2008 in the hope that my vote would make a difference in the world.

I was once disparagingly called, “one of those flag waving liberals who clogs the traffic in DC.” I proudly wear the label of liberal. I believe in progressive principles of universal health care, a healthy and well cared for planet, women’s rights, human rights, the freedom to voice dissent, the Cadillac version of a free and appropriate public education, and an economic system that is not dependent on large portions of any population living in penury. Not necessarily in that, or in any, order.

In order to stay alive and maintain some semblance of sanity, I no longer drink. I understand people who do. The only mind-altering substances I use are tea, coffee, and chocolate—good chocolate. I sustain my life with a healthy spirituality and the practice of prayer and meditation.

I believe in the freedom of religious expression where it does not harm or allow harm to be perpetrated. I believe in the arts, the power of the arts to inform, entertain and heal, but mainly in the arts as an expression of beauty and Divine dialogue. True conversation begins with the courage to be present to oneself and continues with the audacity to be creative. I choose to be present for as many conversations as I can handle.

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