Returning Home: A delight of the senses, a delight in the memories.

Oh, the delightful sensations and feelings of home. Oh, the wonderful whirlwind of a first week back. Oh, the memories. Oh, the possibilities. Oh, Canada!

Nothing beats the feel of soft warm grass underfoot, or a late night swim under never-ending stars. There’s the magic felt from holding the earth in my hands as I’m pulling fresh vegetables from the garden. (Of course, this coincides with the pesky feel of incessant mosquitoes!). My heart swells at the touch of the perfect globe—an apple—in my hand as I turn it gently and release it from the tree, ready for its first crisp bite. And then there’s the rush of a cool Canadian breeze balanced beautifully by the warmth of the sun basking on me as I tilt my face up toward a clear blue sky.

Driving through the countryside, I see this crystal clear sky dotted with puffy white marshmallow clouds, the perfect compliment to an expansive green below. I recognize the sights of a rolling landscape filled with fields full of corn, wheat, alfalfa and soy interrupted by beautiful windbreaks of different varieties of my favourite trees. The rivers and creeks are sparkling in the sun. The towns with their old homes and shops are bustling with activity. The flowers are budding and blooming. The wide road stretches on in a Canadian style of forever.

How I recognize the sounds! The pull of the clothesline as the sheets are coming in, the creaking of old stairs, and CBC Radio One playing non-stop in the kitchen. The birds are singing and squawking, insects are playing their orchestra at night, and frogs are making themselves known in their own funny way. And oh, how I know that sound as I hear the clatter of pots going onto the stove and dishes coming out of their cupboards.

Oh, the food! I have missed the smell of fresh sweet basil as I pick it and chop it using scissors in a cup. A cob of corn gives off an amazingly distinct, sweet smell when you pull down its husks. New potatoes freshly dug from the garden share their earthy scent as you ready them in a pot of water. Even green beans have their own aroma as you wash them and take off their ends before boiling. And then there’s the sizzling scent of large slabs of local steak on the grill, flavoured with the neighbour’s special barbecue sauce—the smell of which I can already taste as it’s cooking.

That’s where our senses of smell and taste are so perfectly entwined. I sit down to an outdoor table topped with fresh salads, vegetables and meats from nearby gardens and fields. Good wine is flowing from home-brewed bottles. With every delicious bite from my plate I get a taste of my memories and a sense of belonging.

What ties all of these wonderful sensations together is the connection to the people who surround them. I am so blessed to feel the embrace of my dear friends and family. To see the growth they’ve encountered as they still hold those same smiles I know so well. To hear their laughter and to comfort their tears. And to share in the delightful smells and flavours of good Canadian cuisine.

Oh, Canada. From far and wide, with a glowing heart, I’m home.

Had to be local steak with veggies from the garden and neighbour's corn on the cob.

First meal back. Had to be local steak with veggies from the garden and neighbour’s corn on the cob.

And this is how you do leftovers!

And this is how you do leftovers!

Pig roast!

Carving the pig

Carving the pig

Neighbours all together with their incredible homemade dishes.

Neighbours all together with their incredible homemade dishes.

Rain can't stop us.

Rain can’t stop us.

Pancakes!

Freshly picked.

Freshly picked.

The views!

The views!

The scenery.

The scenery.

The gardens!

The gardens!

It Takes a Journey

When I moved to Kaohsiung, this incredible city, I didn’t realize that I’d become so busy I would abandon one of my favourite crafts.

I have been longing for the deeper thoughts that come with maintaining a regular habit of writing. Over the past year, my thoughts have been filled with a bustling happiness, but my writing well ran dry. I had lost the ability to (what I like to term) ‘think in writingese’.

A spark has been reignited! I remember the language now! And I know the cure. I needed to take a journey.

Of course I’ve been going on many mini-excursions in and around Kaohsiung. It’s such a wonderful city where I revel in the food, language and culture around me. It is a city with beautiful mountains, beaches, a river, lake, and many parks. There are also so many other places just a quick drive or train ride away. Many of my weekends are spent finding waterfalls or exploring the surrounding Taiwanese countryside and cityscapes.

In these moments, especially on a long scooter ride, or while hiking a mountain, I find glimpses of my deeper, writing self. But then I return to a grueling 12hr-a-day teaching schedule that drains my body and mind from putting any words to keyboard.

Another big part of the problem is that I fell so much in love with Kaohsiung, I couldn’t envision when I would want to leave it. For many years I have never experienced such contentedness with a city.

This in itself put a huge block up in terms of writing. By settling in so much, I blocked myself from the ability to see the finer details that make traveling and living abroad so special.

Two things have happened to change this.

I’m currently at the start of a journey. I’m bound for Singapore, where I will meet one of my good friends who happens to be the cultural anthropologist onboard a big, beautiful boat. (Even boats need a resident anthropologist! Obviously!). So, he has invited me to join him and embark on a ten-day tour of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The other difference comes from my recent decision to leave Taiwan. I will be returning to Canada in August for my cousin’s wedding, and the time feels right to make a change in career and location. I’m not yet sure what that entails, but the prospects are enticing.

With the scent of travel in the air, my senses have been reawakened to the beauty of life. I have re-donned the travel goggles that I hadn’t realized I’d taken off. With a renewed lens and fresh perspective, I’m experiencing things around me in the way that I want and love. In the way that I had forgotten a bit.

It’s so easy to get used to daily routine. The comfort of the every-day. The contentedness of settlement. These are wonderful things! Especially when being settled allows for a developed ability to effectively live and communicate within the space you inhabit.

But from this comes danger. The danger of blindness to beauty and excitement. The danger of the mundane.

I read once that you should regularly try to change your route to work. By following the same path everyday, we desensitize ourselves to what is around us, which actually limits brain stimulation. Almost robot-like, we can navigate our way easily on an unsurprising track.

This is okay, especially if your route is known as the fastest and most efficient. And quite frankly, I think we all require and search for the element of comfort and safety that comes with the predictable. But it can also dull our brains and limit the growth and stimulation that comes from attempting a new and unknown path.

In these moments of discovery, our senses are alight observing the unknown. We look for recognizable features and pay more attention to difference. Neurons are firing as we search for road names, landmarks, direction, and even logic. It’s the art of orientation, and I believe it’s incredibly good for us.

Despite the roads of Taiwan feeling like a video game with the dodging, beeping, red-light running, turning without looking and wrong lane changing, I still recognize monotony on my drive to work that comes from taking the same path for too long.

In Kaohsiung, there is an easily navigable grid-like pattern of roads, augmented by many other roads that veer in very unpredictable ways. By taking unknown and new directions, maybe I don’t end up where I want to be right away, but some very meaningful things come from this off-my-beaten-path endeavor: I’ve heightened my exploratory and observation skills; I’ve seen things that I otherwise would’ve missed entirely; I’ve found that a destination might actually be more reachable later because of knowledge gained from a previous wrong turn; and I’ve found even better routes that I never knew existed.

I think the same is true on a much grander scale for me.

I can’t help but remember Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk about our creative writing genius. It’s a concept that there’s an entity outside of ourselves that assists in any creative endeavor, like Dobby the house elf helping out around the house. I’ve written about this before, but it really stays with me and I feel it’s worth mentioning again.

I thought my writing elf had forsaken me. But it seems I just let her sleep for too long in too predictable a pattern. The impending travel and the lure of adventure has awakened her. Has awakened me. The words have since been pouring into my head in the language I had forgotten for too long. I hope to revel in this as I heighten my experience of Taiwan, and of any future place I may encounter.

I’d love to hear your experiences with the balance between finding a settled routine, and reaching out for the unknown. Share below!🙂

The view touching down in Singapore. The boats in the background are incredible to watch - especially knowing I'll be on one tomorrow! And landing in a new place, seeing this golf course that I know my Sikh granddaddy in Tanzania must've played on, brings a lot of thoughts about the past and future, and the amazing realities of space and place.

The view touching down in Singapore. The boats in the background are incredible to watch – especially knowing I’ll be on one tomorrow! And landing in a new place, seeing this golf course that I know my Sikh granddaddy in Tanzania must’ve played on, brings a lot of thoughts about the past and future, and the amazing realities of space and place.


The Giving Tree

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I’ll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog on the 4th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at dean@reachtoteachrecruiting.com, and he will let you know how you can start participating! 

This month, the topic is, “What moment are you most proud of in the classroom?”

I’m really lucky at my school here in Taiwan. I’d been on an overdose of academia for far too many years, and one of the best things for me turned out to be teaching Kindergarten  English.

At my school, we are given a lot of flexibility with our teaching style and lesson plans. I know some teachers have to follow strict guidelines, and they are already given lesson plans to teach the material. This can be a good thing, as the time spent prepping for lessons can be overwhelming. However, I’m glad I found a school that lets me really dabble in exploring my own artistic creativity. It’s like a whole side of my brain has opened up that had been dormant for the duration of my academic lifespan.

One of my favourite classes is a ‘story telling class’. I’m given two classes a week where I can focus on a children’s story, and relate it to movement, song, dance, and crafts. I think the best class I have yet taught was my lesson on the wonderful story, “The Giving Tree” By Shel Silverstien.

From the depths of my childhood memories, I have a vague but present recognition of the impact this story—and others of its kind—have had in my life.

With the topic in mind, I found a little help from google (what did teachers ever do without the internet I wonder!?). In the first class allotted to the story, I read the story and showed the youtube version, and went over the meaning of the key words.

The next class I had for the story, we made crowns of leaves out of red paper and green crate paper (finding construction paper and tissue paper has proven quite a challenge here). Then, wearing our crowns of leaves, I read the story again. After this, we wrote our names on hearts (for 3-4 year olds, learning to write your name is quite an exciting task). We then ‘gave’ our hearts back to the tree.

I choked up a couple of times during this lesson! Not only from the message of the story (which is quite heart wrenching), but also thinking about the potential impact participating in such a story can have. I’m sure my little students don’t grasp the full meaning of it now, or maybe they’ve already forgotten the lesson. But I can only hope that a seed has been planted. It’s the type of seed I continually attempt to nurture and cultivate as their teacher.

Thank goodness for story time, crafts, music and dance!!  These are by far my favourite classes this year.

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Stuff. A Traveler’s Dilemma.

My best friend as we toured the stuff in the Arusha Market, Tanzania

Touring stuff with my best friend in the Arusha Market, Tanzania.

As someone who has moved multiple times to multiple countries, I have found accumulating stuff to be especially stressful. I once stared down piles of boxes that I hadn’t seen in a year, and near tears, thought I was about to lose a thankless battle. But with the necessary help of a friend, I persevered and sent most of the stuff in those boxes to a second hand charity shop before I had to get on a plane in another direction.

I feel comfortable knowing I now only have a couple of boxes with my most precious items stored for me with family. These boxes mostly consist of childhood treasures, and special souvenirs from my travels. Oh, and a box of shoes and boots… Couldn’t let that one go just yet…

There is a fine balance to be had when it comes to settling into a new country. How much stuff should I buy? How much can I live without? I want to be comfortable and to feel at home here. But I don’t really want to buy things unnecessarily only to have to give them away in a year. For someone that owes as much money as I do to the bank, these questions become even more poignant.

Certain necessities take priority: bed sheets, blankets and pillows are obvious yeses. But the mattress-top to avoid the shockingly hard sleep on a shockingly hard bed takes a second thought. Is it worth it? In this case, I also said yes. Picture me, in my first week here, riding through the winding streets of Taiwan at night, clutching a huge mattress cushion (bigger than myself) behind me on the back of a scooter, whizzing by the lights and traffic of winding roads at the whim of a new friend driving me through my new city toward my new home.

My apartment came ‘furnished’, but other random things I’ve also said yes to here include: a broom, a mop, a pot, a lemon squeezer, a ladle, a phone, a scooter, boots (that are too tight), flip flops, some clothes, teaching supplies, decorations for holidays, speakers, a table cloth, and a lawn chair.

But what about an oven? I miss having an oven… Or even a big toaster oven. This is my most current internal struggle that I am negotiating with myself at the moment. To buy a big toaster oven, or not to buy a big toaster oven?

When you finally deem an item worthy of purchase, seeking it out is never an easy task when living abroad. Especially living in a small city in a country that uses a different language for both speaking and writing.

Almost every one of my above items involves a story of frustration, exploration, confusion, extensive dialogue and discussion, and disorientation. Thankfully, when said item is finally found and purchased, a real sense of triumph and success can also be found.

This is just one (of many) reasons to make friends as soon as possible when you move somewhere new. Local friends are great (for so many reasons, but today I’m reducing everything to talk about ‘stuff’). They can help you navigate the city and search for your needs, even if they don’t really understand why you feel your ‘need’.

Expat friends are also important, as you can help each other through a broad network to find the most basic things that your local friends just really don’t have on their own radar. You don’t have to feel stupid asking, “where in this country do I buy [insert mundane  household item here]?” Because chances are, your new friends either a) don’t have a clue, but understand your concern and thus offer grave sympathy; or b) have conducted the search themselves already and will happily delve deeply into a discussion about where [mundane household item] might be located.

Contrasting this to living in Canada where I understand and exist within the dominant culture, and speak the dominant language, there are a few good things that can come from such a different take on ‘stuff’.

Creativity Skills are Enhanced. I think outside the box a lot more when I’m living abroad than if I easily had access to everything I wanted.

I have discovered I can be more artistic than I had ever remembered. I once lost the search for little party hats for my kindy class, and after visiting three different potential stores (yes, I actually tried three in very different parts of the city!), I gave up, went home, and took out the scissors, some pom poms, and coloured paper, and made them myself. I also recently discovered I have the capability (as I think my grade four self once did), to make paper mache. With a lack of piñatas for Halloween floating around my city, I was determined to provide one for my kindy class, and one for my friends at a party later that weekend. Thus, a bat and a spider were born, and my dexterity skills were reborn.

Beyond amateur artistry, I have learned many ways of doing many things.  I even managed to roast eggplant with my mini toaster (that only has a toaster setting), and since it’s so small, I also skewered eggplant on a fork and held it over a gas hob until it cooked. This works!

Become observant. Instead of just heading down a store’s aisle with tunnel vision, like an arrow toward a target, seeking and grabbing the exact thing and the same brand I always buy, I now take better heed of my surroundings.

It’s pretty much out of necessity, because I don’t actually know where anything is; but I have developed a fresh sense for registering my eye to brain connection a little better. I might not want a certain thing now, but perhaps I (or another friend) might find a desire for it in the near future. Besides, I’m curious! What are all of these different looking things all around me?

My eyes have closely inspected almost every little jar and package in my local grocery store. For the vast majority, I can’t understand the writing on the packages. But often I can figure it out, or guess at its contents. Users be warned: based on such a guess, I accidentally bought stinky tofu (yes, that is what it’s called) instead of regular tofu to make a stir-fry. Thankfully the moment the package was opened my senses were warned before I added the stinky stuff to my beautiful vegetable mixture already simmering. This serves as just a reminder to try to be more observant next time I purchase tofu. Or anything.

Granted, I take a pretty long time to go for a simple grocery shop now, but I think being more aware of our surroundings is a wonderful way to really get a sense of what our surroundings actually consist of.

The best things in life aren’t things.” Seriously. The more times I travel, the more times I am struck with this reality. We can own as much stuff as our hearts and our credit cards desire. But we can also open our eyes to the realities of the harmfulness our over-consumption really does cause. Not just on ourselves, but also on our planet. We can take a step back and pause to really appreciate what ‘things’ matter most in our lives.

I do appreciate the adventure that seeking out, enhancing, or creating physical things can offer. I appreciate the joy that can come when giving and receiving things. I even appreciate the endorphins that somehow are heightened after a successful shop. But I would also rather be the type of person that places a much higher value on appreciating my relationships and the wonders our world has to offer us.

In short, I refuse to stare down a pile of boxes in distress ever again.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine described her experience of witling her entire belongings down into what could fit into one backpack. She was making a move from Canada to tour the world before settling into another country with her boyfriend (now husband). I wondered how she could fit all of her things into one bag. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but the essence has stayed with me. She described that it might’ve been hard at first, but she felt really good about it. Liberated even. I know she’s settled into her new country with her lovely beau, and they have undoubtedly accumulated things again as they build their new home there.  But I hope a lesson can come from that moment she found herself able to pick up and move with the love of her life, unattached to any ‘thing’, and able to explore and enjoy the wonderful things that aren’t actually things that our beautiful humanity and world have to offer.

On this subject, I remember the revelation Jennifer Connolly’s character had with the junk lady in Labyrinth (1989). In the end, it really is all junk. We can enjoy it, but let’s not let it become ourselves, nor let ourselves become it.

 

Want a good read? Check out one of my favourite author’s books, Twelve by Twelve in his struggle to find a more meaningful life with a smaller footprint on earth.

Always a Silver Lining.

I promise I’ll be better at updating things here… Oy… I have about a dozen half-written pieces waiting for you! Here’s a little excuse for that?

For now, here’s a daily anecdote to tide us over.

In typical Kelly-in-Taiwan fashion, I never really know what’s going on around me. Today was a funny day that highlights this.

I had three things I needed to get done this afternoon. Go to the bank, make a reservation, and buy unsalted almonds.

When I opted to go to the bank, it was closed. I then went to make reservations at a restaurant for Friday night, and the English speaking owner wasn’t there… So no dice. I waited for awhile after repeatedly gesturing and using the absolute basic (and crap) Chinese that I know to indicate what I was doing. I brought out the smartphone (it’s definitely smarter than me), and we could translate some things that I was trying to say but with the wrong tone and pronunciation in combination with the English I was trying to say with a Chinese accent along with gestures… All to the conclusion that I should just come back tomorrow. Then, the only place I know where to buy unsalted nuts was shutting down and closed for business when I showed up. We’re talking all of this before 4:30pm in a country that I am rightly and wildly under the impression never (ever) stops working… So I thought I was batting 0 for 3.

These might seem very trivial things for anyone living in a country where you speak the dominant language, or understand the dominant culture. But let me assure you, these basic trivial needs become quite prominent when you live abroad. More on that later.

Thankfully, life has a way of reminding me that the silver lining is always in sight.

Most nuts here in any Changhua grocery store have way too much seasoning or salt on them. (If anyone knows of a good place to buy unadulterated nuts here, I might kiss you). I walked away from the little gift shop near the giant Buddha where I had hoped but failed to buy my unsalted almonds. As I walked away, I got to take in the sight. The sun was setting, and I had the best seat in the city.

This beautiful big Buddha statue overlooks the city, atop a mountain that’s preserved for spiritual, social, and nature walks or sits. It provides a marvellous escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Any time I visit I find a little bit of peace and contentedness.

It’s not hard to get to. It’s literally right in the centre of the city. And yet I don’t go often enough. The little bit of nature the Buddha provides is like a tonic for the part of me that finds frustration in a never quiet city. Not to mention, they sell salt-free almonds.

So today, as the sun was setting and as I was walking down the steps dejected from my nut shop (and earlier bank and restaurant fiascos), but still feeling uplifted by being around trees, the Buddha, and nature, I realized the normally dormant fountains at the base of the Buddha were putting on an elaborate show. I sat on the steps to watch the sun disappear beyond the city and the water show put on before the Buddha, myself, and just a few other observers. The city and life from this perspective looks alot bigger and yet more peaceful than it seems when I’m actually in the mix of it.

The fountain show had beautiful music and lights to go in tandem with the water spraying. It didn’t last long, but it was enough to slow me down, and to remind me to stop and just breathe for a while. If all of the previous activities I’d needed to get done had actually gone according to plan, I would’ve missed it. I’m glad it didn’t work out for me this time.

After the fountain show, the water just lapped out of each fountain head slowly and peacefully. I could hear the steady hum of the city going on outside of the quiet bubble the mountain provides, and I was both hesitant and excited to join it again.

It must be a good thing I’ll need to go back soon to find those nuts.

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View from the steps of the Buddha

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Buddha at dusk

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Mountain meets City / City meets Mountain

Teaching and Learning in the ESL Classroom

It’s time for the third edition of the Reach to Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival. This is a monthly series that provides helpful tips to ESL teachers around the globe. This month, I’m hosting the amazing bloggers here! If you’d like to get involved in next month’s carnival, please get in touch with Dean at dean@reachtoteachrecruiting.com

The topic this month is about the learning we do as teachers. We aren’t just fixtures designed to instruct from the front of a classroom. As teachers, especially teachers abroad, we are given the wonderful opportunity to learn just as much as (if not more than) we teach along the way. Read the entries below from these amazing teachers (and subsequent students) to see just how teaching and learning truly do go hand in hand.

Shay Delagarza and Zach Zine – Teachers in the Students’ Seats

Hello!  Our names are Shay and Zach and together we make up the team that is “Internationally In Debt.”  We are both Chicago natives, have been dating for over seven years, and have lived in Taipei for about 16 months now.  We love our lives here and live them to the fullest despite the fact that we have a combined student debt load of over US$140,000.  We hope to prove that you can do it, too!

Sometimes in our classroom we become the students.  We have learned so much in the past 16 months of teaching here, and we wish we could explain every last detail.  But, alas, we cannot.  In our post, though, we have compiled a few of the things we have learned that we see as very important. Enjoy!

Dean Barnes – What Teaching ESL has Taught Me

My name is Dean, I have been traveling for around 2 and a half years now with a small stint back in my home country. I’m from the UK and I began my teaching career on the island of Bali. I then made the move to Taiwan where I currently reside. Here I have the joy to fulfill my passion for writing by providing ESL/travel related articles to the Reach To Teach website.

Teaching ESL can teach us a lot about ourselves as people. Here I discuss what teaching abroad has taught me about myself and my personal life. Teaching English in Taiwan and Bali has given me two different ESL experiences that have taught me a lot about myself.

Vanessa Long – Learning from Teaching

After 26 years in Texas, I decided to take a huge leap and move to South Korea to teach English for a year. As the time zoomed by, I quickly realized that one year just wasn’t enough time to spend in Asia. I currently teach at a public elementary school near Daegu, South Korea.

I’ve been a teacher for many years now. I studied Elementary Education in college, and have worked with students in various ways for over 10 years. Every experience has been very different, especially teaching in Korea. Here are two things I’ve learned, and been able to greatly improve while teaching ESL in Korea.

Eteri Chatara-Morse – Being an Entertainer… and sometimes an Educator

Eteri has lived/studied abroad (Germany and Japan) and lived/taught abroad (Republic of Georgia and Czech Republic). Her blog started as a way to keep her various family members abreast of what she was doing while teaching in Georgia and has carried on into further travels.  She occasionally finds time to remember adventures from her time spent studying abroad in Germany and Japan.  So with no further ado, welcome to her mind. 

This post is a glimpse into my years teaching abroad and how each location influenced my teaching style. My first year teaching abroad was in Kutaisi, Georgia (the country, not the state!). They are a developing country and have a fairly terrible education system. While my next experience was very different in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. Their education system is much more developed and my imagination soared with games and activities. It certainly helped that there was a plethora of materials for me to use at my fingertips.

Lisa Vinish – Things my students have taught me 

My name is Lisa Vinish and I’m a 20-something Canadian with a passion for education and travel.  My first international trip was to Kenya in 2008 and I’ve been traveling nearly non-stop ever since.  In 2010 a combination of disillusionment with academia and an overwhelming urge to travel again led me to abandon my graduate studies and move to Asia.  This continent has been the greatest love affair of my life, and I’m not quite ready for the inevitable “break up” yet.  Currently, I live in Pohang, South Korea and teach at a small private kindergarten.

After over two years of teaching in an ESL classroom I’ve learned so much about myself and teaching.  Over time I’ve figured out what does and doesn’t work; however, I think mistakes are unavoidable.  Every day spent in front of a class is a new opportunity to learn and grow.  This blog post details the top 5 things I’ve learned from teaching.

Liane Nichols – Teaching the Teacher: The things I’ve learned from students abroad

Liane is an independent foreign English teacher and travel writer.  She graduated from Texas State University in 2010 with a B.A in International Relations.  During college, Liane interned with the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute, and volunteered as President of the International Studies Club and Sigma Iota Rho Honors Fraternity.  Since then, she has been fulfilling her dream of traveling the world by teaching English in Thailand, Georgia, and the Czech Republic.  Follow her experiences by visiting her blog at Nicholsaway.blogspot.com.

I’ve learned plenty of useful information from my students, but my favorite lesson was learning how differences in pronunciation can really change a words meaning.  Thanks to my lovely Thai students at Wangchanwittya, I accidentally learned a new word!

Chris Schannauer and Jenni Burdge – The student in all of us 

My name is Chris Schannauer. My girlfriend’s name is Jenni Burdge. We both teach at Jungchul Hakwon in Gongdo, South Korea. We have been in Korea for a little over four months now. We hail from the United States. I was born in Pennsylvania, and Jenni in New Jersey. We are both certified to teach secondary history in Pennsylvania. We decided to teach in Korea with hopes to boost our resumes, but also to take this opportunity in our lives to travel.

This entry speaks about two of the things Jenni and I have learned from our students.

Samantha Baker – Master Becomes Student

Samantha Baker is an American who has been living and teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for 7 months.  She previously lived and taught English for 15 months in Taipei, Taiwan.  Samantha is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she was a Special Education teacher for 4 years.

This post is what I’ve learned about teaching ESL by being a student of foreign language.

Tiffany Molyneux – The Teacher Becomes the Student

Hello! My name is Tiffany Molyneux. I am a 28 year old from South Florida. I completed 6 years teaching in Florida, before moving to South Korea. I am in my second year teaching English in South Korea. I love God, people, and adventure.

This is a brief entry of some of the things I have learned while teaching in the ESL classroom.

Sarah Steinmetz – What I’ve Learned in the ESL Classroom

I am a New Hampshire native and a proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire. After teaching at a high school in New Hampshire for a year, I decided to leave my life behind and move to South Korea.  I am currently teaching at a High School in Jeomchon, South Korea with amazing co-workers and students alike. 

When I finished EPIK orientation about two and a half months ago, I felt like I had been through the most overwhelming whirlwind of my life. Everything in my life was suddenly different, and then BAM! It was time to start a new job.  Over the past few months, I have learned countless lessons about students, teaching, and my own strengths and weaknesses.

Mary Ellen Dingley – What I’ve Learned in the ESL Classroom

Mary Ellen has volunteered, studied and worked in South America, Eurasia and the Caribbean. She graduated from the George Washington University where she studied cultural anthropology and creative writing. She currently resides in New Orleans where she dances as often as possible, talks about food a lot and spies on other people’s puppies at the park. 

ESL teaching abroad is difficult in all the regular ways that teaching is difficult, but compounded times five when you throw in cultural differences and language barriers. Here, a few unorthodox lessons from the classroom!