Rebecca Kavoussi Testimonial
Rebecca Kavoussi One-Year Testimonial Super English School 29 August 2012
“No worries, no worries; just bumps along the road”. These were Peter’s words to me over the phone when I unexpectedly got stuck in Shanghai for 24 hours on the way to my great Thailand adventure. I got off the phone with my future boss, and knew that this teaching thing was going to be “all good”. I had been hired months before this day had arrived; although I did not believe it was actually going to happen until I got on a plane. I genuinely can say my experience with SE has exceeded all of my expectations of what it would be like to teach on the other side of the world. I have gained confidence inside and outside of the classroom. I’ve met loads of fascinating people, and done my best to “go native” as much as I can. It is hard for me to put into words the many aspects that made my time here so completely incredible. Living in Thailand has been nothing short of epic.
I first stumbled upon Super English on the Internet. I can’t exactly recall if it was via “Dave’s ESL Café”, or a Google search of “English Schools in Thailand”. What I know for sure is that the school’s website seemed to be too good to be true. I saw photos of super cute Thai children, and happy enthusiastic teachers; as well as the many benefits that came with working for this particular school. I wanted to be a part of this. I remember finding the Super job during one of my more unproductive hours at the typical “nine to five” office job I was working. I spent the day dreaming about what it would be like to work for this school. I completed the application process almost immediately. The idea of teaching in the Far East had been stewing for a while, but nothing had quite manifested. I previously researched the idea a fair amount, and had even had a few interviews for positions in China a year or so before. I almost went for the China opportunities, but for some reason nothing felt right. None of the language schools I found had what I believed a school should provide their teachers. A lot of agencies do not give their teachers housing, social activities, camp opportunities, and a yearly bonus; let alone a work permit. These things all appealed to me when applying for Super English. I have friends at other language schools in the area, and they are not always quite as lucky.
I would be lying if I said that teaching was the main reason that I chose to move to Thailand. While I have really enjoyed and learned so much while being a “teacha” (Note: “teacha” is what the Thai children fondly call us), the real reason I came here is because I wanted to see the world. I wanted to leave the States for a while, and submerge myself in a new and “exotic” culture. I wanted to meet new people from all over the globe, and see what it would be like to be oceans away from home. Super English has been great because I feel like I have an upstanding and fruitful job, while still being able to enjoy the benefits of living in Southern Thailand.
I have been in Surat for ten months now, but it feels like more. At this point, this town feels like home away from home. I regularly run into locals I’ve met at places like 7-eleven and feel forever connected to the Thai lifestyle. I love seeing smiling familiar faces even if I don’t always know their names. Working in Surat, specifically at Super English, has made it easy for me to make friends and feel comfortable with my surroundings. Peter goes out of his way to treat his staff to some pretty awesome social events on a monthly basis. It is so cool that so many different types of people can be brought together with the same intention of trying something new and exciting. I have met some people here that I surely will see again on another continent. A social network is really important to me. Between the other amazing Super teachers and staff, and the group of foreign teachers in town from various language schools in the area, I have a great support system and friends. I truly have met some amazing individuals. Saying goodbye to people wont be easy, but I know it is more of a “see ya later” for some of them.
The concept of moving across the country never really scared me; it was the whole teaching thing that I was nervous about. In training sessions with Peter days before I plunged into a sea of fifty-five Thai students, I remember feeling sick about the idea. Honestly I had never done anything like it, and had no idea what to expect. Peter patiently answered my many questions, and assured me I would be fine. He was right. Although what we do is not necessarily always easy, I feel working for Super English has given me the confidence to feel at ease in the classroom. This past year, I have been fortunate enough to work at both Thidamaepra and Super English. In fact, I spent semesters at both New and Old Thida. Thida has been a rewarding experience. Having two semesters with the same students means I now know the majority of my 165 adorable and bright student’s names (this is way more rewarding than it sounds). I have so many perks at Thida. I get free lunch and recieved a generous Christmas bonus (albeit at the cost of an embarrassing CHOREOGRAPHED performance). I still smile to myself at the idea of seeing hundreds of school kids every morning and watching their daily routines; especially on Wednesday mornings when they participate in a school wide aerobics routine to club music. Thai style.
Thida mornings and Super evenings has been ideal for me. While there are those rare days that I wish I finished earlier than 6:30pm, overall I feel lucky to work at Super English in addition to my IEP hours. I love walking into Super English everyday to a cool, air conditioned office where I shoot the breeze and get teaching ideas from the other Super teachers. It really is a relaxed and homey environment. Additionally, I have seen my kids (yes MY kids) everyday for the majority of the better part of a year. The Super kids who also attend Thida are clearly more proficient in English than their piers. Super English offers us materials and topics, but its philosophy is deeply routed in the freedom of teachers to innovate and be creative at their discretion. I still get surprised at times when I walk into my classroom at SE with the flexibility to teach the children how I feel suited. Yet, the managers and of course Peter are always open to giving much needed advice when sought out. Some days with my Super students can be difficult, but in all honesty these kids are a huge part of my happiness here in Thailand.
It’s been an unforgettable and surreal past ten months. In a way I think I have had too much fun (is there such a thing?). Exotic beaches, scuba, full moon parties, fried insects, fire shows, trains, planes, buses, concerts, and absorbing Thai culture are just some of the privileges that come with living out here as a foreign teacher. I can just picture myself sitting with my family and friends back home starting a story with “well this one time in Thailand…” ; while never really being able to truly articulate what this has been. In the scheme of things, one year is not long enough. Still, it is long enough that this snap shop in time will stay with me for the rest of my life. It also has given me the notion that I can, and likely will, do something like this again. I strongly recommend anyone considering moving abroad, wherever it may be, to go for it. It is better to try it and not like it, than never try at all and wonder what it might have been like.