Being an International Educator is all about putting yourself “out there” beyond your comfort zone, embracing new & different experiences. This is, after all, how we grow as individuals & as educators. In light of that, limiting your recruiting focus to just one or two locations seems contrary to the expansive spirit of the profession. Why not take a chance? I did & am I ever glad!
A couple of examples: I certainly had never considered Pakistan for a career move & when out of the blue I was offered a position, everyone tried to convince me not to go. I went to Lahore & loved it! The Pakistani people were gracious, the food & culture were outstanding, the students were a good group & with India less than an hour away (for example) the travel opportunities were spectacular. Although Pakistan was not originally on my limited, safety-zone list of places to go, in retrospect it should have been at the very top!
The Democratic Republic of Congo was not on my list either, but when I found a note in my recruiting folder at an ISS conference I decided to follow up, if for no other reason than to hone my interviewing skills. I did sign the contract & found the Congo to be quite a challenging experience, particularly since the school & location were grossly misrepresented by the director & his professionally-made video that painted Kinshasa to be a delightful tourist destination (this was Pre-ISR). Although the Congolese were warm & welcoming & I had fun resurrecting my high school French, the extreme poverty & complete lack of infrastructure at the school were horrendous. Looking back, I realize that the Congo changed my perspective on the world & international teaching in a profound way. Would I go back? Probably not knowing the situation as I now do. But it was a deeply enlightening period in my life, one that I’m glad I did not miss.
I don’t recommend you completely throw caution to the wind. There are most definitely some political hot spots best avoided. What I am recommending is that instead of limiting yourself to just a few possibilities, why not step out of your comfort zone, reconsider your possibilities & let the real adventures of your career begin!?!
Have YOU ever accepted a position at a school that was not on your list of desired places to live & teach? How did the experience turn out for you? Were you wonderfully surprised or shell shocked? We invite you to share your experiences with colleagues. Please scroll down to comment.