Jan. 9, 2020
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
BRILLION – Nicole Calaway’s life has been one of distinct chapters.
First, as an adolescent in Brillion. Then, as a college student in Milwaukee who studied abroad in Spain. Time as an ESL (English Second Language) teacher in Appleton and a year-long stint teaching English in Culiacán, Mexico followed.
And now, she is married, living and teaching ESL in Brillion, a place as a teenager she was ready to depart.
Growing up in Brillion
“I really do just have good memories,” Calaway said of her first 18 years in Brillion.
She graduated from Brillion High School in 1989, and says she had ‘awesome teachers’ from elementary school on.
“It was good … There weren’t issues,” Calaway said.
Calaway says teaching is different now. Back then, all students worked at the same pace.
“I guess I was one that enjoyed school. I feel comfortable in schools,” Calaway said.
She enjoyed the rest of Brillion, too.
“I had a very good childhood. You didn’t have to worry about crime … It was more carefree, I think,” Calaway said.
She recalls biking from a mile out of town on Highway 10 in a pre-technological world.
“You knew everybody. You did a lot of fun things,” Calaway said, recalling dances and roller-skating parties at the Brillion Community Center.
Brillion was also the first place she started to learn Spanish, which set the foundation for her traveling and professional career.
By the time she was a senior, Calaway visited her sister at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which helped show her there was more out there in the world, including different cultures.
“I had this curiosity in me, and I just wanted to explore. I wanted to try different things. You can feel a little confined in a small town. I just knew that I wanted to see what else was out there, because there’s a lot more out there,” Calaway said.
In Milwaukee, Calaway became more entranced with other cultures and didn’t return to Brillion in the summers.
“It’s a much bigger city so a lot of different cultures and I just became interested with just exploring different cultures, so I studied abroad,” Calaway said.
She spent the first semester of her sophomore year in Spain.
“I fell in love with it. I was only there a semester. I really wanted to stay the year, but you can’t change then, once you’ve made that decision,” she said.
Calaway and her roommate in Spain, also a UW-Milwaukee student, returned to Spain the following summer.
“We had a job at a camp in Southern Spain,” she said.
The pair did not immediately sign up for school back in Milwaukee or overseas.
Please see the complete version of this story in the Jan. 9, 2020 edition of The Brillion News.