We had the good fortune of connecting with Jorge Muñoz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jorge, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
In my opinion, consciously taking a risk is a purposeful action that forces you to step out of your comfort zone and stepping out of that bubble can be transformative. In the summer of 2014, I was in my mid-20’s and I was living in Austin, Texas hardly making a living as an artist while also trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel for my dead-end, part-time teaching job. I felt comfortable not needing to ‘grow up’ but at the same time I also knew that my current lifestyle wouldn’t be sustainable in the long term. In a way, I felt like the invisible, first-person protagonist of Richard Linklater’s film, Slacker, where the protagonist spends the entirety of the film meandering through the city of Austin encountering uniquely, off-beat characters of all types and ages that intentionally never seem to have any life goals but are perfectly content with their life choices nonetheless. Like in the film, I was just another off-beat character and this was my safe place. I was in my comfort zone because it was where I had gone to school and where I had spent most of my life. I also had a close circle of friends and, over time, had made many connections throughout the city. To say the least, I was pretty well rooted and could’ve easily spent the rest of my life living that Slacker lifestyle, comfortable and perfectly content. On a Friday night, happy hour outing in mid-June, an opportunity was presented to me that caused me to reconsider my future. An acquaintance I had only met a few weeks prior through work, mentioned that he was moving to Mexico in two weeks to take a job as a division principal at a small, independent K-9 school in a small city in central Mexico. I joked about the possibility of working under him as an elementary teacher. The conversation pretty much ended there and the night continued with the usual banter of Friday night drinks. Although the opportunity to work in Mexico had only been mentioned in passing, the idea stuck with me for the next few days. Sure enough, about three weeks after that conversation, my acquaintance emailed me to say that his school was desperate for a 6th grade teacher to start in early August, which at this point in time was only about a month away. He told me to think about it and that If I wanted the position, he could schedule an interview for the following week. I now had a week to decide my future. For the next few days, I consulted with family and friends and the feedback was mixed. My parents supported the idea because I would have family nearby in Mexico City. I could always come back in a few months if it didn’t pan out. My friends reminded me of my relative inexperience as teacher and that 6th graders would likely eat me alive. Ultimately, I was torn by this new opportunity because I felt I would be leaving behind a close-knit community of friends and family. However, I also felt I would not accomplish my long-term goals. I also felt that I may never have an opportunity quite like this again. Would I look back years later with regret at having missed the opportunity? Looking back, it’s been 7 years since I took that speculative risk to pursue an international teaching position in Mexico. In my first year of teaching at that school those 6th graders absolutely ate me alive. I remember how nervous I was my first day because I became truly conscious of the fact that I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. In fact, one of my first interactions with a student nearly had me packing that same day. Despite this, I went on to spend another four years teaching in Mexico. That Friday night outing a year before had kickstarted my career as an art teacher, which is what I had wanted to do from the beginning. During my time away, my life completely changed for the better. I was able to attain my teaching credentials and I met the woman with whom I would spend the rest of my life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am currently an Art Teacher at an independent k-12 school in Denver, Colorado where I teach elementary and middle school visual arts. My road to getting here has been both a journey and a challenge as I mentioned in my story. The lesson I have learned throughout is that achieving your goals requires hard work and even though there are obstacles along the way that will cause you to reevaluate, they are just part of the journey. Had I not followed through on the opportunity that was presented to me, I would be in a very different place in my life. You may not be fully aware when opportunity is knocking, but when it does it might just take you where you want to go. I am a painter in my free time and I am gradually working to get myself established in town. My wife and I have plans to open an online store dedicated to my art and her jewelry.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Having moved here just before the pandemic I still don’t know very much about the area. If a friend was visiting, I would ask my them to give me a list of the types of activities they want to do in the area. I would then do some research and explore those places with them. That feels more adventurous.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Special shoutout to the Artist, Poet, and Filmmaker, Gwylym Cano who helped me write my story.