By Melissa Andersen
“Teacha, Teacha”, the oval faced boy shyly whispered as he chased me down to say goodbye at days end. I noticed his hands clasped tightly around something. With a sweet grin he opened his fingers to unleash two purple butterflies into the tropical Thailand air. “A gift” he murmured, before timidly turning on his heals and running back to the basic hut he called a school. That day, I’d taught 65 youth about Christmas. He wanted to offer a “Christmas gift”. Heart melting doesn’t cover it.
Quitting my sales career in 2011 was scary. I was taking a major risk, with no safety net to catch me if I tumbled. This fork in the road typically steers you down a highway of confusion. How does one afford a magical life abroad? Then one day, EUREKA! I came up with a solution. What resource did I have that was marketable around the world? Speaking English!
I soon found myself on a one-way flight to South East Asia for training to teach English as a foreign language. An American girl smack dab in the middle of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Let the journey begin.
Shortly after the intensive training, I started my first job in Pattaya, Thailand. The elementary school was on the outskirts of the bustling city, nestled beneath a Utopia of tropical greenery. Each morning the school driver would pick me up and deliver me to my bright eyed and bushy tailed students.
One could never forget this school. Walking into a hot and muggy classroom with 35 pairs of soft oval eyes excitedly staring up at me as if I was Lady GaGa. Thai kids aren’t exactly accustomed to seeing blonde western woman dressed in business casual.
These children were dirt poor. Most families couldn’t even afford a toothbrush. Nevertheless, they were happy. They yearned for knowledge, always listened and behaved remarkably well. Their appreciation was moving. Every class ended with a cinnamon roll group hug, with me as the centerpiece.
Whether its ESL, TESOL or TEFL, these job opportunities are similar. Finding a job is a basic process. Research the perfect course for your desires and budget, but be careful, many can be scams. Don’t go for the cheapest program. Do your homework! You can do the training in the US, or venture to lands afar! Taking the course in the country you would like to teach in is highly recommended, as you learn the culture and the course often offers a basic language class. Most also offer lifetime job placement assistance.
This job won’t make you rich, but the fulfillment is priceless. You can take it all around the world, as a career or hobby. You can be young or old, and educate kids or adults. Teaching English as a foreign language offers gratification accompanied with the ability to live abroad. Asia, South America, Europe, you name it. I can promise you one thing, it is a journey that will touch your life as well as the lives of many others.