Rossumse Paula has been thriving in Texas for over 22 years: 'We never thought' |  Hengelo

Rossumse Paula has been thriving in Texas for over 22 years: 'We never thought' | Hengelo

Paula Grandman from Rossum followed her dream 25 years ago after studying in the US for a year. Because of love, it didn't stop and she has been living there for 22 years now. She is happy there, but Twente is in her heart. Just before Christmas she arrived as a surprise on her parents' doorstep in Rossum. “I'm already afraid to say goodbye.”

Paula, now 46, has been back from America for three weeks. Her life is now in Texas, but Rossum feels all too familiar to Paula. Parental house, but village, neighborhood and lately too much rain and cold. No one around her expected the quiet girl of that time to step away and find herself completely at home in distant America.

Twente pronunciation

At the kitchen table she talks about her life, which has taken a completely different turn over the year in America. She speaks good Dutch with a word of English here and there, occasionally with a Twente accent. She is now a teacher in warm Texas, the American South, where she lives with her husband and four children. “Yes, life can be strange,” he says.

Abroad

For her life story, Paula goes back to 1995, the year she received her pre-university education diploma at Carmel College in De Thij, Twenties. “I set my sights on a year abroad. No wonder it became America. I was always interested in the country, where the exchange was good.

Thanks to my wonderful host family and my talent for volleyball, I was able to settle in well from the start

Paula Martinez-Grandman

He ended up with a host family in Brownsville (population 140,000), in southern Texas between the border with Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. “As I expected, it was a completely different world. But thanks to my wonderful host family and my talent for volleyball, I was able to settle in well from the beginning and it was a great year that I finished with my high school diploma.

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The game is very important

From the moment she started high school, she noticed that sports were very important. “I played volleyball at Rosstars and continued that in the US. I had the talent, was selected for the highest performing teams, and then you integrate easily in the US.

That may be the biggest surprise, says our joining mother Marianne. “She is a very quiet girl. It was also a big surprise for us that she went to America for a year. On the other hand, she prepared well and that's why she won.

Big change

The big change is that she got into a serious relationship there. “After I returned home, it turned into a long-distance relationship. But on the first vacation, Robert was already at my door. We always kept in good touch and saw each other as much as possible. We finally got married and settled in Brownsville.

For example, doing some cycling or walking is almost impossible

Paula Martinez-Grandman

22 years later, she is now Paula Martinez at home in Texas. “We have a wonderful family of four children. My husband Robert works in the police force and I teach in an elementary school. But when I'm in the Netherlands for a while, like now, I find myself missing some things. For example, doing some cycling or walking is almost impossible. It is very hot in summer, it is flat and barren and the area is not designed for cyclists. Even though it's raining and cold, I really enjoy walking around Rossum.

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The Martinez family is on the playground with father Robert, left, and Paula Grandman, third from right.
The Martinez family is on the playground with father Robert, left, and Paula Grandman, third from right. © Paula Martinez-Grandman

The situation in Brownsville is very different. “It's almost always hot and very hot in the summer. Now it's over 20 degrees and the kids are wearing shorts. Brownsville is close to the ocean. “We take an hour's drive from the beach to a tourist island and you really get that vacation feeling.

Be motivated

In the United States, Martinez holds all the diplomas that allow her to teach elementary school. “That's a big job. Americans' motivation is evident even in elementary education. Kids need to be active. On the one hand, it's good that they're motivated, but on the other hand, it's at the expense of creative subjects and kids who learn less. It's a shame.

Paula tries to initiate an exchange between her American school and her former elementary school, De Gerkev. “I guest lectured in English at Rossum. I had the children write letters to my students in America. I also wish they would do it for the Rossum kids. Let's see where it can lead.

Paula Martínez-Grandman at her former primary school, De Gerkevy.  He strives for connections between his old primary school and the one he now teaches in America.
Paula Martínez-Grandman at her former primary school, De Gerkevy. He strives for connections between his old primary school and the one he now teaches in America. © Robin Hilberink

Meanwhile, he has now been in the Netherlands for almost three weeks. As a surprise, she suddenly stopped at her parents' door. “My father's health is favorable and I wanted to see him during the holidays. Going to the Netherlands with the whole family, as I have done a few times, I came alone. It's wonderful to be here,” he said.

Grandfather and grandmother

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Mother Marion nods: “It's hard for our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren to live so far away. But we have visited them many times and they have all been here together. We also communicate a lot through Facetime. It's great to hear kids call us grandpa too. They're happy there, and that's all that matters.

Bala nodded and moved on. In a soft voice: “I'm already afraid to say goodbye. It is still difficult for me, especially now that my father's health is deteriorating. But I built my life there and am happy. The way things are going now is good.”

Paula Martinez-Grandman: 'It's always hard to say goodbye here and there.'
Paula Martinez-Grandman: 'It's always hard to say goodbye here and there.' © Robin Hilberink



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