A little over two years ago I was living in Miami working an office job I hated and catering on
the side just to make ends meet. I was on an extended come down from a seven month trip through
Europe and I was finding it difficult to maintain any real happiness in the grind. Of course, there
was little respite to be had in finding a better job, as they were few and far between. The five years I
had spent studying Psychology and working in a neuroscience laboratory before my time abroad
could do nothing for me upon my return in the way of securing a more desirable job in the
floundering U.S. economy. “You're more than qualified but science research funding has been cut
and we can't afford to hire anyone else at the moment,” was a common response from the numerous
jobs I coveted.
Still, several years after my return home from my travels in Europe I yearned to be out in the
world. I wanted to be doing something that made me feel good about what I did every day. Under
florescent lighting I browsed the internet endlessly for an escape from my desk as stacks of
paperwork built up around a ringing phone. While browsing I found numerous ads looking for
English teachers to teach in South Korea. I remembered that I had met someone in France who
told me about teaching there in South Korea. I also knew people who I'd gone to college with who'd
done the same. It sounded good and I had all of the required qualifications..
After a few months of paperwork, I was on a plane headed to South Korea. Fast forward a year
from my arrival in Korea and I was relieved to be finished with my contract. Korea had been a great
experience. A new culture. New friends. A new lifestyle. A new career path in mind. But, I had been
happy to finish due to the demands of the job. I loved my students and I found that I really enjoyed
teaching but there were too many restrictions put on me by the Korean school. There were too
many illogical obligations to be fulfilled to please the parents who paid exorbitant amounts to keep
their kids in our sought-after language school. Moreover, there was a lack of appreciation
permeating the work environment.
Throughout my year in Korea, despite my complaints, I had decided that I loved teaching and
wanted to continue down that path for the time being. Midway through my contract I contacted
Super English after finding the school through a google search. I already knew that I wanted to
visit Thailand but the prospect of living there was even more exciting than a week long jaunt on
the backpacker trail. Eventually I made contact with Super English and secured the job nearly six
months before I was set to arrive in Thailand. After a three month trek through China and Vietnam
I took a few short flights down to Surat Thani to start my next year of teaching.
The adjustment period was a bit tough at first. I was used to the modern conveniences of South
Korea and its deft public transportation. Showing up without any knowledge of how to navigate
Surat, nor the means to do so was the first hurdle I had to overcome. The next would be managing
a classroom of 55+ kids, when my last teaching job in Korea had no more than twelve.
Eventually I settled in to my own housing and had my own transportation. And, after a couple
of months I started to find my groove as a teacher in this wholly new environment. Coming from
Korea, I went into teaching in Thailand with a starkly different mindset than what was needed. I
was used to a more rigid structure and a lot less fun. But, eventually I had the hang of it and things
started to go smoothly and the students and I were having a great time together.
I grew accustomed to the sabai sabai Thai way of life. I started appreciating the smells, colors,
and tastes. I started to realize all that this country had to offer in the way of its powerfully spicy
food, its blue water tropical islands a short trip away, and the ancient culture that I'm still trying to
figure out. Maybe those are all part of what made working here become so easy after time.
Once I got comfortable living here and being in my classrooms I was able to develop and
become a better teacher. With Super English it's easy to do that because I have the flexibility to
organize the classes as I see fit and to teach how I feel comfortable teaching. I'm able to make the
classroom environment enjoyable for the students as well as for myself. I'm able to get a sense of
pride out of what I do each day because I see my students learn and progress from the lesson plans
that I develop, not from a prewritten curriculum. I enjoy going to school every day because of the
bonds I've developed with my students and a culture I otherwise would have never known.
The new MEP program has given me a taste of what having my own classroom is like. Instead
of teaching only English, I'm also responsible for Math, Science, and Health classes for the same
group of students. The smaller classrooms and increased classroom time helps create a better
environment and connection with the students and co-teachers.
In this work environment I'm able to learn and develop as a teacher from my employer and my
coworkers because we're all given the freedom to experiment with our classrooms and teaching
styles. If we have new ideas for how to teach a lesson, manage a class, try out a new activity, or
develop new materials and projects, we're able to run with those ideas.
Also, I feel appreciated here. I feel appreciation from my students, the people I work with on a
day to day basis, and most importantly, the company I work for.
I already enjoyed teaching when I arrived in Thailand. Since my arrival, my enjoyment has
developed into something more than that. The experiences I've had teaching here and working
with Super English, especially in its new MEP program, have shown me that I want to make a
career out of teaching.
One Year Testimonial
7 November 2013