John's Testimonial


 It is certainly foolish to leave a good-paying job, a loyal set of friends, and a comfortable home to move
across the world to a place you may very well dislike.  It is like intentionally derailing the train that you
are riding.  I highly recommend it.  I had most things that people consider to be important in life, back in
Texas.  (No, I did not have a horse. So just stop thinking that.)  It was good to have a little niche carved
out.  I had progressively increased my responsibilities at my job over three and a half years.  I knew how
to entertain myself, run my errands, and look the right direction when crossing the street.  It took over a
year and a half for my wife and I to make up our minds about teaching abroad.  The inertia had a strong
grip.  We were used to what we had... but eventually the growing curiosity and need for adventure got to
us.  
 We picked Super English because the website looked great and we felt good about how Peter
answered our questions.  It was a little nerve-wracking to buy a plane ticket when we couldn't even touch
the school to see if it existed.  But after we got to sewing soccer balls and shoes in the factory,
everything was okay.  Sorry, bad joke.  We got to Surat Thani and were initially unimpressed.  It is dirty
here, and there are a lot of strange smells.  In just a few blocks' walk from our house, you will smell
incense, feces, curry, trash, frying bananas, and charcoal fires.  Your senses get confused. Our first
day here, we made a trip to Big C (Thai version of Wal-Mart) with one of the very friendly Thai staff from
Super English.  Children began to follow us around the store, laughing when we turned around to look at
them.  “Teacher, teacher” they called us from behind shopping carts.  That was when I began to like
Surat.
 The first few weeks of the job, I began to feel I could get a grip on the fifty-five chattering little heads
and uniformed bodies in the classroom.  I didn't feel completely at ease until much later, when I had
found my own style as more or less Bugs Bunny meets Sergeant Pain.  Victoria, our supervisor, gave
me some good tips from observing my class.  Other teachers shared ideas for games during chats over
lunch or in the break room.  Peter gave me some advice on how to get a crazy prathom 6 class in line,
and things really began to work for me.  A new state of being light-hearted and relaxed became the
norm.  I am pretty sure that is not due to switching from Starbucks to Nescafe.  I ruled that out once I
found a few good espresso spots in town.  
 The ability to throw myself into the class was really helped by other two factors.  One, that the kids
respond to your energy and giving you some soul income with their laughs and participation.  Two, that I
recently had a vacation and have another coming quickly.  In the fall semester (October- February), the
amount of time to relax and/or travel ensures you are well tanned and adventured.  I have been here
less than a year and have already had more trips to amazing places and do-nothing beach days than in
the whole three and a half years in my last job.
 Super English is very different from most employers.  You are able to experiment as a teacher or
charades expert in class and find your own style.  All of us sweat and work very hard, but not because of
a demanding boss or strict set of quotas or policies.  For my part, I think it is because I enjoy the work
the harder I play at it.  You can really do that here, as you have plenty of room to try new things and  
support when you ask for it.
 Stepping out of my old life as a social worker was to leave a lot of comforts and pains behind.  These
have been replaced by a bright and shining new set of comforts and annoyances.  However, cracking
into a non-touristed town and becoming a part of it is quite a discovery. It is a strange moment when you
realize that you are more yourself in a new place, than where and who you were before.  You can say to
yourself, “Why did I stay in that job/town/mullet haircut for so long?”  Or, it may be best to celebrate.  I
believe it is a win over inertia.