What to expect when you’re moving to a new country to teach or study abroad

Moving to a new country for an extended period of time can be difficult. They call it ‘culture shock’ for a reason! There are a lot of things we take for granted in our native countries, such as eating customs, colloquial language and social norms. Knowing what to expect when making the move to teach abroad can make the transition much easier. That’s why guest blog writer Punyaa Metharom from Bromsgrove International School in Thailand, has put together some advice.

 

                                                                                                         Eating and ordering habits

mealOrdering and eating food is one of the first and most common things you will need to do in your new country of residence. Keep in mind that different cultures do things differently. For instance, in your new country:

  • Utensils may or may not be used with certain food items
  • It may be considered impolite to touch food at produce stands prior to purchase
  • Gratuity for servers may be expected or included in the bill
  • You may be expected to ask for the bill, or it might be considered rude to do so
  • You may have dinner much earlier or later than usual, or find meal sizes vary

Learn what you can before you leave in order to avoid awkward moments. You won’t be able to avoid them all, so be polite and be prepared to learn by example.

 

 

New languages 

girlYou may already have a good grasp of the language spoken in the country you are going to, you may know nothing, or it culd be your native language. Either way, expect to be surprised.

If you already know a fair amount, expect to learn quickly, and, if you spend a lot of time with natives, to start to see your new language affect how you speak your native language. Certain phrasing will creep in when you speak to your friends back home. You may even forget a word! Don’t worry, it’s all still there and waiting for you.

If you are traveling to a country that speaks your primary language, expect it to be very different. Residents in your new country of residence are likely to use some words differently than you do, and phrasing may also vary.

If you have little knowledge of the language in the country you will be traveling to, hang tight! You may be in for a bumpy ride. Learn basic phrases before you go, such as greetings and questions; for example, to find out where the bathroom is!

 

                                                                                                                    
handshake
Social customs

Related to eating habits, social customs vary widely from country to country. This includes greeting styles, in which you may expect, a kiss, double kiss, triple kiss, a hug, a handshake, a bow, or nothing. The customary distance between individuals may be different from your native country, so you may find that people stand at a closer or greater distance from you in social settings.

Depending on the country to which you travel, there may be different customs specific to your gender. Learn what habits you may need to adopt in order to remain safe and respectful.

 

 

 

 

Health and safety
water

Before traveling to a new country, research if any vaccinations are recommended prior to travel and if the water in the country is safe to drink.

You should also research how to get in touch with emergency professionals, locate the nearest hospital and police station, and learn how to contact your native country’s embassy.

Re-entry 

You may be surprised to learn that readjusting to your life back home can prove to be a bigger challenge than leaving your native country in the first place. For some people, getting re-acclimatised in their native country can be a more jarring experience. Expect that your horizons will be broadened and your perspective may have become enriched. You may see things differently and should be patient with yourself as the new you gets to know your native customs again.

 

You stand to learn a lot from your time in another country and studying or teaching abroad is a wonderful experience. Help yourself to transition into your new surroundings by keeping an open mind and doing a bit of research before you jump in! If you are keen to take the plunge, sign up to teacherhorizons and browse our jobs board. 

Written by Punyaa Metharom, who has been teaching English as an Additional Language, English, and writing blogs at Bromsgrove International School in Thailand for eight years. When he isn’t teaching, he loves to travel around the country and beyond. Punyaa wants to have a firm grasp on the world so his students can as well.

Teaching at Dili International School, Timor-Leste

Greetings Teacherhorizons viewers! I am Matthew Spooner from Melbourne, Australia. In January 2017, I packed my bags, left the land from down under, and flew to South East Asia’s best kept secret: Dili, Timor-Leste. I want to share with you the experience I have had so far.

 

Why I am here

After teaching for seven years in Melbourne’s Catholic Archdiocese primary schools I decided that I needed a new professional adventure. I had assumed leadership roles, taught three grade levels in two schools, took on extra-curricular activities and even had a brief stint as an emergency teacher. Yet, there was an emptiness. I knew that I wanted to combine my love of travel, with my love for teaching. My wife, Jaklin (who is a qualified high school teacher) knew that this challenge would benefit our careers and our lives. So… to Timor-Leste we went!

timor leste
Learn more about teaching in Indonesia and find any Indonesian teaching positions here.

 

Dili International School

DIS is a certified International Baccalaureate (IB) school. The schools consists of a Junior School (Pre-school- Kindergarten), a primary school, a high school and Year 11/12. The school hours are 8:20am – 4:30pm, though this time can vary depending on meetings, extra-curricular activities, planning, marking etc. Within the primary school the class sizes range between 18-24 students per class and every primary teacher has a full-time Learning Assistant. The presence of the Learning Assistant in the classroom is advantageous as he (or she) is productive and helpful.

The leadership team here are both approachable and supportive. In particular, the principal and manager of the school are aware of the challenges of living in a developing country and being away from family and friends. Their open door policy is reassuring, and they are there to listen, offer advice and assist with our concerns. I believe that when good will is extended to another, it is received back. This is the case at DIS. They employed my wife as Year 8 Individuals and Societies Teacher, Grade 2 PE Teacher and she is on standby for relief teaching when required. Furthermore, they understand the importance of a work/life balance. This has resonated well with me. The overseas staff

Furthermore, the leadership understand the importance of a work/life balance. This has resonated well with me. The overseas staff are encouraged to have an active social life away from school in order to come back refreshed and energized.

dili international
Interested in working in an IB school too? Read advice on getting IB experience here. 

 

The lifestyle of an international teacher

The lifestyle of an international teacher has really appealed to me over the past six months. Jaklin and I thoroughly enjoy the down time away from school. We hire a car every couple of weeks and spend the weekends exploring Timor-Leste. Our favorite district is Liquica. Liquica is a 45 minute drive from Dili and takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. We also spend time at a local orphanage during the week, and the school has supported our voluntary work by making this our extra-curricular activity on Friday afternoons.

In my own time, I have taken up Portuguese lessons, however, in a country such as Timor-Leste, Tetum and Bahasa Indonesian are other languages worth pursuing. We have travelled to Bali and Singapore twice during this six month period. There are three flights a day to Bali, so whenever there is a long weekend or term holidays we are off to the travel agent to book our trip. Dili-Bali return flights cost around $200 US per person and the accommodation/spending money in Bali is reasonable. In Timor-Leste the official currency is US Dollars and the exchange rate adds value to your trip away.

The scenery of Dili, Timor-Leste.
Like the sound of the international teacher lifestyle? Read more about it first hand from teachers such as Christopher Lyons, in South Korea. 

 

The development of my professional approach

This way of life has benefited my teaching practice. My planning with my Grade 3/4 Team are professional and pleasant times. My colleagues and I come back to work wanting to get the best out of ourselves as well as meeting the needs of our students entrusted in our care. The IB framework has challenged my thinking nevertheless; I have adjusted and tweaked elements of my practice to embrace this style of learning and teaching. The professional reading is necessary to deepen my understanding of the IB model and the texts that I obtain are reader-friendly and practical. Moreover, I still read other educational topics that I am interested in. These topic include: Grit by Angela Duckworth and The Fixed/Growth Mindset or The Power of Yet by Carol Dweck.

My own professional standards have improved as I am working with teachers who have taught all over the world and from different countries. Their stories and commitment to the school has enabled me learn a lot from them. My students are from Brazil, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the USA. They bring their own experiences, talents and gifts to the classroom and I am delighted to see them grow in their learning on a daily basis. Truly, they are a joy to be with. I have had positive experiences with their families who trust my capabilities and are willing to work with me on their childs’ development.

dili kids
Read about how other international teachers have developed their way of thinking and teaching in this blog.
Final Thoughts

At the end of my teaching career in Melbourne I was burnt out, disengaged, and frustrated with the profession. If I have to be truthful, I was prepared to walk away from teaching. Teacherhorizons and Dili International School both helped me fall in love with teaching once again. Timor-Leste and its location in South East Asia has allowed me to travel domestically and internationally on a regular basis and I am hopeful that there are many more voyages ahead. I am forever grateful for this opportunity. The way of life for an international teacher was something that I had always dreamt about, and now… I live it!

 

Has Matthew answered some of your questions about what it is like to teach abroad? If you still have more, have a look at our FAQ by Teachers blog. To get adventurous like Matthew and Jaklin, just create a profile here. 

Written by Matthew Spooner, an Australian primary school teacher, who has ventured to Timor-Leste to teach PYP at Dili International School.

We asked our teachers… “What advice would you give to others thinking of teaching abroad?”

At Teacherhorizons we love to get feedback from teachers about their experiences all over the world. We recently sent out a questionnaire to get some of this inside scoop. We have already shared with you the answers to “tell me something you have learned”“tell me a funny story” and “what are the misconceptions about teaching internationally?”. Here are the answers to our final question. It is an important one for those of you who are teetering on the edge… it’s your last chance to take the leap!

 

This week we asked “what advice would you give to someone who is umming and ahhing about teaching abroad?”

 

“Do it! But get in touch first with the teachers who work there already; they tell you how it really is.”

“Just go for it. You will always have doubts but the experience is worth taking the risk.”

“100% do it. You will come back with stories to tell, characters you’ve met, adventures to share. You might think you can imagine what it will be like but you will never know until you’ve taken that leap of faith.”

“Just do it! It is always possible to do it in the way you want to, for example there are more comfortable options (places, schools, roles) or more adventurous ones. There is something for everybody out there.”

“If you’re thinking about it, do it! Whatever happens it will be a life experience that will develop you as a person. And who wants to hear about the time you nearly moved abroad?”

“Take the leap. If it isn’t what you wanted, you always have a home to go back to, but if you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder what it would have been like.”

leap

“Try it! Even if you don’t like every part of it, you will come back a more rounded person, with some amazing experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise. I have loved every minute of my last 7 years abroad!”

“Do it….but choose the school wisely! The school is more important than location as you spend most of the time at work!”

“Go for it – you only live once! Do as much research as you can about the school as well as city and country you will be living in so that you get a sense of what your professional and leisure experiences and costs of living could be like. Seek out people who live in that environment, or have done so, and ask as many questions as you can.”

“If you are worried about the change or about being so far from home, don’t! Embrace the new experiences but also, it is important to recognise time when you need a break – whether that means going home for the holidays, or visiting a different city or country.”

“Take the leap! It’s not scary once you are there…You will likely gravitate towards others who are like you and quickly become part of an expat community – but be open to connecting with others beyond this bubble if possible: sports, culture and the arts, religious affiliation are some of the ways you will meet new people.”

“Did you know, 73% of teachers say they would like to teach overseas at some point but only 9% ever do. Which group do you want to be part of?!”

 

Do you have your own advice to give? Please feel free to comment below, or to contribute to our teacher questionnaire by clicking here and answering the questions. We would love to use your answers in our next blog!

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

7+1 practical tips that will help you adjust back home after teaching abroad

Hello, international teachers! Have you finished for summer? Are you off travelling the globe? Are you preparing for your next teaching adventure? Have you fallen in love with your school and city, and sticking around for the umpteenth year? Or have you decided to pack up and head back to your friends, family and those home comforts? If you are coming home, then welcome! You are not alone. This week we have a guest writer, Dimitris, who offers some tips on making your trip home hassle free…

 

They call it reverse culture shock – that odd feeling people get when they return home after they had spent a relatively long time abroad.

I was never even aware of the possibility of such a feeling, until it actually happened to me. Recently, I came back home after a year spent teaching English in Thailand. I remember my head being full of questions before I embarked on my Thai adventure. Who will I meet there? Will I enjoy the food? Is it really so beautiful? Then, after a while, I settled into my new life and started enjoying it to the full. When the time came to return, I begrudgingly stepped onto a plane home and arrived into a new kind of shock.

I was, of course, very excited to see my family and friends again, but, after a while, I began feeling confused, bored and misunderstood. That, is when I realised; it takes some preparation before returning from your adventure too. But my struggles back then, are your gain. Now I have some tips for a smoother transition back to life at home.

 

save-money
1) Save money

I know it’s very tempting to explore as much as you can while you’re in an exotic place, but you should do so within your means. You’ll have significant expenses when you return – you’ll have to find a home, maybe buy a car, some furniture…

Also, it’s not as easy to save money while working in most English speaking countries, so use the opportunity to do so while teaching abroad. Give some private lessons if possible and put that money aside. You will transition back to your old life more easily if you feel financially stable.

 

2) Make a career plan while still overseas

Start planning the future while you’re still abroad. The internet can help you a lot with this. While teaching anywhere in the world, you can study for your Master’s Degree or get in touch with potential employers. LinkedIn is a great tool for this, for example.

If you come home with a vague plan, your savings may evaporate quickly while you find your footing.

 

make-plan3) Look for a place to live before you return

Look at options, contact landlords and set up viewings before you return home. This is the biggest expense for most returning teachers and taking care of this step beforehand can prevent a rushed and impractical decision.

Again, the internet can help you a lot with this, and you can also ask family or friends back home for some assistance.

 

4) Pay your taxes and keep your licenses current

While having a great time enjoying the beaches of Thailand or admiring the architecture of Barcelona, you can easily overlook the less exciting obligations at home, like filing tax returns.

Keeping your documents current may seem less important while living abroad, but once you return home, you’ll have a ton of work to do. The more things you do while still overseas, the easier your transition will be.

 

different-person5) Understand that you’re a different person now

The first step of truly readjusting back home is accepting the fact that you’ve changed. It was inevitable. And it’s a great thing. However, your friends and family may not realise how much your worldview has altered.

It can be hard to explain what you’re going through to people who have never had the experience. Consider keeping a journal in which you’ll note down your feelings, memories or doubts. Your writing doesn’t have to lengthy or award-winning. It simply serves as a good outlet to process your readjustment.

 

6) Keep your memories alive through your work

It’s true – when you come back, most people will listen to your exciting stories for about ten minutes and then just switch off. You’ll have a million stories to tell, but they simply won’t care as much as you’ll want them to. Frankly, you’ll start getting on everyone’s nerves.

Here are some things that can help you express yourself fully:

  • Start your own site or blog
  • Write for other sites
  • Make videos and share them online

You’ll find the right audience by doing this and things will get a lot easier for you.

 

like-minded-people7) Connect with like-minded people online or face-to-face

Nowadays, with just a few simple clicks, you can connect with anyone. Use social media to your advantage. Search Twitter for #reversecultureshock or #reentry hash tags. It’s nice to know that you’re not alone.

There are also several great sites to check out, like Small Planet Studio for example. Get inspired by reading about how other people adapted to life back home.

However, communicating with people online only goes so far. Perhaps you’ll also need to meet people face-to-face and talk about your experiences. A good place for that is Meetup. If you don’t see a group that suits you, make one yourself!

 

8) Explore your own country

Just because you are back home it doesn’t mean you have to stop with adventures. Find places to see and things to do in your own country that remind you of the fun you had abroad.

If you miss the food from your host country, find a place that serves it. Better yet, learn how to make it and invite your friends for dinner!

 

Remember that it takes some patience and time to readjust to your life back home. Hopefully, some of these tips will help you keep going. If home isn’t for you, and you’d like to see where else you could teach, contact our dedicated team of advisers to discuss your options.

Written by Dimitris Vlachos, a full stack marketer at Movinhand. Movinhand helps educators get the salary they deserve.

We asked our teachers… “What are the misconceptions about teaching internationally?”

At Teacherhorizons we love to get feedback from teachers about their experiences all over the world. We recently sent out a questionnaire to get some of this inside scoop. We have already shared with you the answers to “tell me something you have learned” and “tell me a funny story”. Here are the answers to a question we think is very important for those teachers looking to go international for the first time.

 

This week we asked “Are there any misconceptions about international teaching? Any expectations that you had (good or bad) that haven’t been as you thought?” Have a read of the answers we got back…

 

“In the past there was a misconception that international teaching was a bit of a gap year and that you couldn’t find a job when you come home. Today many international schools are much more progressive than schools in the UK, and the experience actually opens more doors to better opportunities when you return.”

“I really thought that teaching is teaching wherever you go, and that it is a transferable skill. Well it is, to an extent, but teaching internationally was just the most different experience for me. It is progressive and dynamic unlike back home.  The schools are different, the teaching styles are different, and some of the skills you have learned before just get thrown out of the window! It’s an amazing experience and I have loved it, but it’s worlds away from teaching back home.”

“My misconception was that I would work less hard than I did in the UK. I was very wrong! Also, that there would be no social welfare incidents.”

“I didn’t realise that I would be able to be so creative with my teaching. I have developed more than I could ever imagine, because I am trusted. I take the students’ learning wherever I think is necessary, and I teach them in the way I want to teach. It’s amazing.”

“Some people believe that international teaching is like a busman’s holiday. it really isn’t. You have to work just as hard, if not harder overseas. However the rewards are excellent.”

healthy food

“A major misconception is that these bright and open minded international students will be more eager to learn. By and large, this is true, but sometimes students from affluent backgrounds can also be quite apathetic as they know Mum and Dad are wealthy enough to take care of them if they don’t do well in school. Or there is the “I will work for my Dad’s business after my iGCSEs therefore I don’t need to work hard” mentality.”

“I thought that parents would be much more intervening in international schools than they are in the UK, but I was only half right. Parents with children in international schools can be very demanding of the level of support they expect from teachers, but other times, their busy jobs mean they just don’t have enough time to intervene. Also what you don’t consider, is that having busy and wealthy parents can actually mean that children may not be getting the kind of attention they need at home.”

“I think people think it is an easy ride. But living in a new country, not knowing anyone and having to get to grips with a new curriculum is a real challenge.”

“Well, for me, I thought that to teach in an international school you have to be a UK qualified teacher. But it turns out this is not true; as long as you are well trained and hard working you can teach almost anywhere you want to internationally, especially using Teacherhorizons!”

“My misconception was behaviour…international kids can be naughty too!!!!”

Do you have your own misconceptions to discuss? Please feel free to comment below, or to contribute to our teacher questionnaire by clicking here and answering the questions. We would love to use your answers in our next blog!

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Thank you, Teacherhorizons, for my new sunrise and sunset.

As the recruitment year starts to wind down we are beginning to reflect on our successes. We would like to share a post from Catharine DeBoni, a South African candidate who, with the help of Teacherhorizons, is on her way to China to teach Primary Art and EAL in August 2017.

My thanks

cqHow can I ever say thank you enough, to an agency that never cost me a penny, yet completely changed my crossroad in life? I was lost for words at first when my contract was officially offered in February this year, 2017. But today I feel like putting pen to paper – keyboard to screen – to write about my experience.

I registered with Teacherhorizons in June 2016, and 8 months later got offered a job beyond my dreams and expectations in China teaching Art and EAL. My career will take a huge leap forward since the school I am joining, YCIS Chongqing is now also an IB affiliated Global school. What can I say? I am truly grateful and  I am simply over the moon!

Every day at present is one step closer to a brand new life and future for both me and my daughter. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision taking on this teaching endeavor, but as reality is striking, and every single plan is just gently falling into place, I cannot help but feel a deep spiritual teaching purpose, and sense of destiny.

Helen Weir is also teaching a Yew Chung Chongqing, read her post about settling in and learning the language.

 

Hamilton Primary, 2016 Art Expo
My advice

My advice to any teacher applying with Teacherhorizons would be: First and foremost, be dead honest with yourself and everyone else involved. Start off with your own list of what you have to offer a school and what you have always dreamed of having in return, and then stick to it.

I am a South African teacher and have been teaching since 1997 (it shocks me to think that this is my 20th year in the teaching profession.) For me, it is time to break away from the educational downfalls, politics and regimes that have stilted me in South Africa. It is time to pass on what I have learned and enjoy seeing it flourish in the “right” school with the “right” educational vision, where Art and Performing Arts are valued and even highly regarded.

We have had many more happy teachers this year – read their comments here

 

 

logoMy process

It was quite a process making sure my Curriculum Vitae was in the right format and that all my details were 100% and listed with Teacherhorizons. I would say the first 3 months on the website was a time for me to tweak and perfect all of my information.

I must have gone through at least 5 Skype interviews and 3 shortlistings before Philip Latham and Maggie Johnstone managed to help me get my contract with YCIS. Every single interview was an eye opener and very good experience. I learned so much about myself and about the international school vibe just via the questions that were posed and the answers given.

3 simple steps to sign upI initially looked at schools in the Middle East such as UAE and Oman. I was convinced that THAT should be where I should go. But then one early morning Philip sent me an email and asked me if I could check my spam mail because there was a school in China looking for a Primary Art Teacher and it sounded like the job for me. This was really special because the email was clearly not reaching me, but Philip picked up on it and got hold of me instead. The rest is history. Philip and Maggie were incredible! They supported me each and every day, through all the anguish and nail-biting interviews, until the job was offered… and even beyond.

To get started with this process yourself, click here to sign up, and one of our Advisers will be in touch.

 

My futurechong

Last week I received my Chinese work visa, and next week I will buy (and be reimbursed for) my airline tickets to land in Chongqing, China on the 1st of August 2017. And by the way… you might not know this…but Chongqing is unofficially the largest city in the world. It’s larger than New York. Yikes!!!

I will miss my South African pupils; with their humble nature and their ability to simply make do with so little in resources. But I look forward to spreading my wings. When you teach Art, the sky is indeed the limit, especially in China.

 

We wish you all the very best Catharine! But we don’t just make teachers happy…in the weeks to come we will post some happy schools’ comments too. Whether you are a teacher or a school, we welcome your feedback…please do email info@teacherhorizons.com and let us know how we are doing!

Written by Catharine DeBoni, a Creative Arts Teacher with 20 years of teaching experience in South Africa in both public and private school sectors. She is a Fine Arts and Performing Arts Specialist and is about to begin working at an international primary school in China.

How the Teacherhorizons community helps educate disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka

Extreme poverty, malnutrition, squalid living conditions, no running water and poor sanitation are all part of a tea picker’s life. The tea pickers sit at the bottom of Sri Lanka’s social strata. The education provided to the children on tea estates is deliberately poor so that few can achieve the qualifications to get jobs outside of the estates and tea picking becomes their only ‘choice’. It’s a generational back-breaking job of servitude, rooted in a history of colonialism.

Tea Leaf Vision (TLV) is a charity who aim to change this. Read on to find out all about their work and how, by using Teacherhorizons, you are helping them make a difference.


As a team of international educators, we are committed to supporting international education for a range of schools and students of all backgrounds. 
For this reason, we donate 10% of all our profits to support education projects that offer opportunities to less fortunate students in developing countries. This year, we have selected Tea Leaf Vision (TLV) as our charity due to the impact they are having on young people in the tea plantation region of Sri Lanka.  TLV provides English classes to some of the most impoverished children in Sri Lanka providing them with the employability skills they need to broaden their horizons. For every teacher that is hired through Teacherhorizons this year, we will commit to supporting a student in Sri Lanka to study English for six months with the aim of equipping them with the skills they need to make their own life choices.

tlt

 

What is Tea Leaf Vision doing?

school

Tea Leaf Vision offers a full-time and free ‘Main Diploma Course’ in the English Medium. This takes students from no English and I.T skills, to the point where they can sit for a job interview in English and have the skillset to achieve employment.

However, this is only a part of what Tea Leaf Vision does. It also embeds personal development and community service throughout the diploma course. One example is Tea Leaf Vision’s Community English Programme (CEP), which tackles these issues at the root by training their 150 main diploma students (aged between 18 and 24) to teach 1,500 primary school students from 25 government schools in the surrounding tea estates.  

Tea Leaf Trust also facilitates the personal development of students so they can deal with complex and multi-layered social issues. These include alcoholism amongst 85% of the adult male tea estate community and domestic violence against 83% of tea estate women (20% sexual violence). Emotional-Health lessons raise awareness about common problems such as addiction and depression, with the aim of strengthening positive coping strategies.

 

Why is Tea Leaf Vision’s work important?

The Tea Leaf Vision Centre for Development was set up to bring up the standard of education for the youth of the tea plantations. The centre provides a free, full time education programme of English Speech and Grammar, IT, Business Studies. Tea Leaf Vision has a number of goals:

 

kids

  • To deliver high quality, accessible educational programmes, both full-time and part time, to young people and children from the tea estates surrounding the Maskeliya area of Central Province, Sri Lanka
  • To affect social transformation in tea estate communities by highlighting the importance of community service, and instilling it as a core value in youths through a series of practical programmes that develop the skills of young people to give back to their communities
  • To improve the employability of youths and choice of employment options outside the tea estates by facilitating the development of high-standard English language skills and professionalism
  • To develop the emotional health of young people and enable them to strengthen their positive coping strategies to deal with the complex societal issues that exist in their communities

It also runs a number of projects and programmes for the community – it is a hub of learning for younger and the older members of the community. This programme provides its participants with the knowledge, skills and tools to tackle the challenges faced day to day by the children of the tea field workers.

 

What impact is Tea Leaf Vision having?

Nearly 90,000 people have benefitted from the TLV initiatives in and around the community. Tea Leaf Vision works hard to extend its projects into the communities so that people of all ages benefit from the programmes run.
the trust

In the last two years alone, TLV have had:

  • 8,546 direct beneficiaries – these are people in and around the tea plantations of Maskeliya directly getting support from its projects
  • 81,069 indirect beneficiaries – these are people who benefit from the knock-on effect of its projects. For example, one of the first term projects is to work in the local community to clean areas of the town or make areas safe. As a result of projects like this, large numbers of people, from the very young to the elderly have benefited.

 

In addition to this the students have raised and donated over £2,200 to those in more need in their community. This act is no mean feat, when you consider that 80% of the students live off less than $1 a day themselves. In addition they have also given a combined 17,479 hours of their time through volunteering on the service projects.


business fair

Academically, the community has also seen a number of benefits:

  • Students achieving Grade A – C pass in their English O-level has increased from 15% to 55%
  • Over 80% of TLV’s graduates are in full-time employment, training or further education within a year of their graduation
  • Students in employment are earning an average of 50% more than they could have achieved before studying with Tea Leaf Trust

 

 

A story of success

Kawshalya says: “Tea Leaf Vision is my turning point, because it changed my negative thoughts into positive actions.” Many people in Kawshalya’s community had spoken ill of her, and her parents made decisions for her based on these rumours. Tea Leaf Vision helped her to discover talents she did not know she had. Before TLV, her solutions to problems were to harm herself and she attempted suicide on numerous occasions. She now strongly believes that dying is not the solution thanks to the Emotional Health Programme taught in the second and third term. At the start of term one, she found talking in English difficult and struggled in her speech classes, but her speech teacher encouraged and helped her to be confident. She was also recognised for her commitment to her studies and was given a weekly award for being hard working. She says that she’ll never forget Tea Leaf Vision as it was her turning point and she thanks TLV for giving a high standard free education to all of the young people in her country.

 

Where does the money go?

The short answer – It goes to the Community Education Programme. Each year over 1,500 children from 25 tea estate areas access 40 hours of  basic English classes for free.

The long answer – It goes to the Community Education Programme; the jewel in Tea Leaf Vision’s crown. A ‘training of the trainer’ programme, which benefits the children, local government schools and Tea Leaf Vision’s own ‘Main Diploma’ and ‘Advanced Diploma’ students.

 

studentsThe Main Diploma students are trained to be Student-Teachers and run free English classes for children aged 9 to 11. The programme runs throughout the year with term 1 being for training, and terms 2 and 3 for teaching through strategic partnerships with local government schools.

The Advanced Diploma on the other hand, is designed to ensure a practical learning experience for ‘interns’ to teach in the English medium and engage with students in a positive and supportive way. Interns of the Advanced Diploma are trained to manage the programme under supervision of Tea Leaf Vision staff. With their guidance, the interns will then complete a teaching placement with the centre and support staff, with management of all key events and programmes. They will play a vital role in the centre’s day-to-day operation. As such, the Advanced Diploma ensures sustainability for the centre too, as it enables TLV to employ promising and committed teachers who understand and embody TLV’s ethos.

 

How to find out more

      Twitter – https://twitter.com/tealeaftrust1

      Website – https://www.tealeaftrust.com/

    Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TeaLeafTrust

     Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/tealeaftrust/

     Video – https://vimeo.com/36237230

 

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By using Teacherhorizons, you are helping us support important projects like TLV and providing opportunities for thousands of disadvantaged children in developing countries like Sri Lanka. Over the year ahead, we will share photos and stories of successes both on our Facebook page and our blog (subscribe down the right-hand side of this page). Want to get involved? sign up here and speak to one of our Recruitment Advisers.

Written by Alex Reynolds, founding partner and Director of Communications at Teacherhorizons.

Ten things to love about Cambodia

As you may know, our main hub here at Teacherhorizons is in the beautiful city of Siem Reap, Cambodia.  It is there I have spent the last 6 months enjoying the culture, climate and cuisine. We work with many schools in Cambodia, such as JPA who we mentioned recently in our blog The best international schools to teach at in the world. You can find out more about Cambodia and its opportunities via our Cambodia page, but I want to share my personal experience of this incredible country too. It was tough to choose just 10 great things about such a fantastic place but I gave it a go. So in no particular order…

 

1) Learning Khmer

20170523_230404_resizedOne of my reasons for moving abroad was to learn a new language and I was keen to end up some place where English is not widely spoken. Little did I know that many of the locals in Cambodia speak fantastic English and I wouldn’t need much Khmer to get by. But I tried anyway. My first experience of learning it came from a local man called Hi, who just started talking to me in a restaurant one day and taught me all the basics whilst I ate fried rice. He then told me about his family and showed me photos of them. I loved speaking Khmer. The language isn’t that hard when you get used to the different sounds and inflections, and the respect you get from locals when you use it is priceless. By the end of 6 months there I could pick words out of conversations and make attempts to get involved. In fact I once understood a man at the market asking his wife how much to charge me for a toy elephant. She replied “bei dollar” ($3), and he turned around to me and tried “nine dollars please”. Needless to say, I got it for 4!

 

bike ride2) The countryside

The countryside in Cambodia is unlike anywhere else, and in Siem Reap you only need to get on your bike and ride for 10 minutes before you reach dusty red roads surrounded by lush green rice paddies and palm trees. You can see for miles too, because of the flat landscape, which makes it even more stunning. I went on countless bike rides to enjoy this, one of which resulted in having to walk the bikes through bushes and ditches, only to end up at the Ton Le Sap river with no crossing for miles. Luckily a nice fisherman charged us a dollar, shoved our 7 bikes on his boat and trundled us across. Another time I decided to take the scenic route back from Kulen Mountain on the back of a friend’s dirt bike. That was a bumpy and skiddy experience that I won’t forget in a hurry – but was worth it when we stopped at lakes, climbed mini hills to look out over the paddies, and got lost in countless traditional villages.

 

3) The people
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We have already written a lovely blog piece about the smiling people of Cambodia, so I don’t feel like I need to repeat this too much. Have a read here. They are the most genuine and humbling people I have ever met, and I made many friends there who had a real impact on me. As a nation, they have been through a terrible time and have come out the other side better people than many of us could ever wish to be!

4)  Sweet coffee

In any local Khmer restaurant, you can request a ‘coffee with sweet milk’, which is an exceptionally strong iced coffee that has normally been slow dripped overnight, with condensed milk. It acts like rocket fuel. I actually had to cut down half way through my time there when Teacherhorizons candidates were struggling to catch my 100mph interview questions. It didn’t seem to affect the Cambodian tuk tuk drivers though, who would sit at these little cafes through much of the day drinking the rocket fuel, playing Khmer chess and then napping in a hammock which they had strung up in their tuk tuk.

 

 

running5) The villages

I had a few chances to get out into the rural villages of Cambodia during my time there. One was whilst working with Trailblazer Foundation which is a charity who support struggling communities in the areas of health, food security, education, and economic development. I helped to install wells and water filters in the villages surrounding Siem Reap, which was a fantastic experience. I was also able to see local villages during my many cycles around the temple ruins or on the way to one of the barays for swimming and barbecued frog. I loved the villages, there is a real sense of community there. When you cycle through you see all the children playing together in the rivers or the fields, or just lounging in the shade under their houses, which are normally self-built on stilts for that purpose. They would run after your bike practising their English: “Hello, hello, how are you? What is your name? Hello!” This would happen every time you pass a bunch of children. I never had my hands on the handlebars – always just waving and waving.

 

 

 

 

 

6) The food

phoLocal food in Cambodia is delicious. It is not spicy but they will always give you fresh chillies or a home made chilli and garlic sauce to spice things up if you want it. They have the fried rice and the noodle soup of other South East Asian countries but they also have their own dishes such as sour soup, lok lak (beef in a peppery soy sauce with rice), amok curry (fish based curry with coconut, turmeric, lemongrass and kaffir lime steamed in banana leaves). I actually was a bit of a traitor when I was there – I ate Vietnamese pho more than anything else, since we befriended a lovely lady in the Vietnamese area of town who charged $2.00 for a huge bowl which had pork, noodles and vegetables in it (find her on facebook here). My favourite breakfast was spicy fried pork and rice, served with a little bowl of soup and pickled vegetables. Delicious!

 

 

 

moto7) The roads

Now this was a love and a hate of mine in Cambodia. The best analogy to use to describe the roads in Siem Reap is the UK hazard perception test – a virtual prerequisite for the practical driving test, where you have to spot potential hazards and click on them. Eg. That car could pull out of the side road, *click* that child could run out *click*, that car could try to overtake on the blind corner *click*. In Cambodia though, every hazard happens. It’s not a hazard, it’s a given! Driving there is like playing a real life version of Mario Kart but with motorbikes and tuk tuks instead of go karts. Motorbikes hold up to 6 people; maybe 2 babies, a small child, a man, a woman and grandma. A tuk tuk holds up to 10, with people literally piled in the back and maybe a few straddling the joint between motorbike and trailer. I think the law is to drive on the right over there, but I was never quite certain in all honesty. One way systems are a free for all, and don’t even get me started on how the traffic lights work! It’s a definite experience, but be prepared to have some shady moments!

 

 

 8) The festivals

water pistolKhmers are always celebrating something. One day decorations are going up, and the next day the entire city will be one big party. My favourite festival was, of course, Khmer New Year (Chaul Chnam Thmey) which is held in April at the traditional Lunar New Year, and celebrates the end of the harvesting season, when farmers enjoy the fruits of their labor before the rainy season begins. I was well warned about the traditions of Khmer New Year through the stories and experiences of other expats, as well as the Khmer staff at the TH office (meet the team here!). However, I still don’t think I was prepared as we donned our waterproofs and pistols on the first night and entered the centre of the city. There was not a dry spot in sight. Every man woman and child had a water pistol and was squirting anyone they could see. On top of that, there was baby powder (often scented!) being thrown around. You can see plumes and clouds surrounding the streets and it sort of forms a slimy scented paste on your skin as you join in the celebrations. Every shop has a water station to refill pistols, and it genuinely feels like the whole city has regressed to childhood and is having the world’s most epic waterfight. Oh and it lasts 3 days. No joke, I was still being squirted on the street as I rode to work days later.

angkot watNot only is the centre the place to be at New Year, but the temples open up and are free for all. Locals and their families enjoy picnics and a fair around the outside of Angkor Wat. There’s shopping, dancing, music, food, and traditional games. My favourite games to watch were Leak Konsaeng, which involves chasing someone around a circle whipping them with a scarf, and  Veay Ka Orm, where they take turns to bash a suspended terracotta pot with a bamboo stick until it breaks and scatters sweets and talcum powder over the winners head. Alongside the games, the water fight continues. I braved the temples on the back of a motorbike and whilst my friend drove, I fought the battle. This time there were trucks crammed with Cambodians who were armed with buckets, guns and water bombs. We even got squirted with a pressure washer at one point! I’ve never enjoyed being part of a festival so much before. The locals especially appreciated us joining in, we know this because they would point, smile, wave, then promptly soak us.

 

 

9) Beauty treatments
thai massage

I had barely ever had a massage or had my nails done before I got to Cambodia. In the UK you pay a minimum of £50 for an hour massage and £25 for a manicure, and it’s a luxury I never felt I could justify. Cambodia (and much of Asia) on the other hand… I would spend $10 for shellac gel nails, and could go in with any picture of any design and have it done. Hello Christmas nails with snowdrops and Santas! I also had many massages, some of which were fairly normal, others which weren’t. When a friend came to visit we decided a four hand massage was an experience we should try. It was wonderful! Another time I got a Khmer massage for free when I bought a day pass to a posh hotel swimming pool. I was led through to a room full of beds and beckoned to change my clothes into some crazy looking grey outfit, which I couldn’t work out how to put on. I was looking so confused that the woman actually dressed me which was an awkward start.  Then she started the massage which began like normal – on your front with face in a hole – and turned into what I can only describe as enjoyable torture. She was pulling me in all directions and actually hitting me. She had me in positions I didn’t know I could get into, and was leaping around the bed like a maniac, twisting my limbs in hers and then yanking them. All this was happening to a soundtrack of intense power ballads like ‘my heart will go on’ and ‘I will always love you’, along with the sounds of slapping and grunting coming from neighbouring beds behind screens. I feel strongly that the Khmer massage is an experience everyone should have, but be warned – it is anything but soothing and relaxing!!

 

pub st10) Not feeling like a tourist

The sheer sincerity of the people of Cambodia, and the later introduction of tourism means that they welcome holidaymakers and expats with open arms, grateful for the trade we bring to their cities, but not abusing it as in other parts of South East Asia. I noticed this as soon as I touched down for the first time in Siem Reap International Airport, and there was a desk to go to for information about transfers to the city. The prices for a tuk tuk, a moto or a taxi were clearly laid out, and after living in Cambodia for 6 months I can confirm they are perfectly reasonable too. When I landed in Bangkok I was offered ten different prices to the city, with tourists and forums warning ‘don’t use the meter, it’s often rigged’ or ‘make sure you use the meter, else you’ll be scammed’, I didn’t know what to think! This genuineness of Cambodia was to continue for my entire stay. Whilst they hoik up prices in the centre like ‘pub street’, and you will haggle hard for your tourist tat in the markets, you won’t find any aggressive or pushy sellers, and if you step outside the tourist centre, in any shop, restaurant or market stall you will be charged like a local, especially if you speak a bit of Khmer! I never felt short changed and I never felt taken advantage of in Cambodia, and that was an authenticity I hadn’t anticipated from such a newly developing country. It’s things like this that made my love for the place grow stronger every day I was there.

 

I could go on forever about my love for Cambodia, but it’s time to wrap up! I hope that this post inspires you to give Cambodia a try, or heightens your excitement if you are lucky enough to be heading out there in August. Have a look at some last minute opportunities by heading to our Cambodia page. To apply you must sign up here. The country absolutely blew me away, and I don’t doubt it will do the same for you.

 

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Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Green School, the Balinese dream school.

One of our unique selling points here at Teacherhorizons is that we visit many of the schools that we work with. We do this for a few reasons; to see the day to day running of the school, to meet the leadership team, to speak with students about what it’s like to learn there, and to ensure that we give accurate and first-hand information to our candidates. Our Operations Manager, Emily, was lucky enough to visit Green School in Bali just last month. So Emily, what is it like?

 

Some would consider Green School an educational paradise, and after my visit in April 2017 I would definitely agree. Not only is the school set in a stunning location, it also offers a forward-thinking, holistic approach to education that enables students to grow and develop into environmentally responsible and community minded individuals.

 

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First Impressions…

I couldn’t start with anything other than the school’s desire to instill environmental and social responsibility in their students. In order to achieve this, they use a very holistic and student guided approach to learning, which they feel inspires and empowers each child to be a ‘green leader’.

The open-air, bamboo classrooms at the school keep students constantly engaged with the environment and remind them of the beautiful world that is at their fingertips. Actually, all of the buildings and spaces at Green School are made from bamboo and are an architectural wonder in their own right. Both students and staff have comfortable, practical spaces to work and relax in, that not only serve their purpose but are a constant reminder of the school’s ethos and mission.

The staff! I met with a number of classroom teachers, as well as some of the senior leadership team. All were welcoming, enthusiastic, energetic leaders that were obviously passionate about more than just teaching children the information they need in order to pass a test.

We class Green School as one of the top schools to work at in the world. Read about it, and other top schools here.

 

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A Walk Through Campus…

Now you have a better idea of the kind of learning environment Green School is, I have to give you a little more detail about my visit and experience.

A walk through the campus really opened my eyes to the style of education on offer to students at Green School. Students have practical, hands-on opportunities to learn; from a rabbit hutch full of white, fluffy friends to a garden full of plants and vegetables that need tending to. Of course, students still spend some lessons with pen to paper, but ‘learning by doing’ is evident throughout the curriculum. One area where it is obvious is the teaching of entrepreneurial skills. Enterprise and Entrepreneurship are not subjects at Green School, but they are the backbone of every lesson. They are the ways of being and doing which will undoubtedly enable Green School students to impact the world.

 

 

“Students practice entrepreneurial skills on a regular basis – as questioners, thinkers, tryers, failers, and active learners. It starts with the youngest learners, forming personal characteristics, and builds throughout middle and high school where our advanced and confident learners make an impact on the world.”

 

 

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Truly Inspired…

During my visit I was invited to attend a talk by Wilbur Sargunaraj, India’s first YouTube star. Wilbur was talking to the high school students about being culturally intelligent and responsible on social media. Wilbur uses his online following to campaign about critical global issues of poverty, caste, exploitation and justice. The students were asked to think about how they could use their social media presence to create social change. Let me set the scene for you… I was sitting in an open-air, bamboo yoga studio, two stories up overlooking the Balinese countryside, listening to this talk with a bunch of high school students who were learning about how they can use technology in a pro-active and beneficial way. I was truly inspired! And honestly, I left ready to make some changes to my own social media presence and use.

Over lunch, which was a bowl full of colourful, freshly made Mexican dishes and salads, a female student plugged her microphone into an amp and started singing. She wasn’t nervous about sharing her talent with her peers or the staff and her music was greatly received. It was clear to me that it was common practise for students to be encouraged like this, not only by staff but also by their peers, to pursue whatever passion, project or idea inspires them.

 

 

When my day came to an end, I was left wondering why there aren’t more schools like Green School. The tranquil, lush surroundings of the school make a great environment for learning. The emphasis put on community, creativity, individuality, expression, innovation and growth can surely only lead to success for all involved.

“We believe in three simple rules underlying every decision: be local, let your environment be your guide and envisage how your grandchildren will be affected by your actions.”

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For the chance to work in this inspirational school or others in the same area, sign up here and look through our schools in Indonesia.

Do you work at another amazing international school which deserves a mention in our blog? Get in touch with editor@teacherhorizons.com to discuss your school and your blog idea.

Written by Emily Parkman, Teacherhorizons' multi-talented and super organised Operations Manager.

Beijing: A teacher’s experience

With schools in Asia starting to finish up their recruitment for 2017-18, we thought it might be fitting to have a chat with some of our candidates who have now been living and working there almost a year. Mike Manktelow is just finishing his first year at Yew Chung International School in Beijing. So come on Mike, how has it been?

 

 

Where are you teaching and what’s your school like? What made you choose that location/school?

I am teaching in Beijing, China, at a school called Yew Chung International School (YCIS). I choose this school as I wanted to develop as a teacher. It’s a big school group so it has great things that come along with it, like an attractive package and good CPD.

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

I got my job through Teacherhorizons who interviewed me first and then sent an application onto YCIS on my behalf. I was quickly notified by Teacherhorizons that I would be contacted for an interview and went from there. It was quite an exciting process and felt relatively easy.

Another happy teacher, Julia Clegg, has taught in Qingdao; read her story.

 

 

The Great Wall 4

 

What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

The city is huge and buzzing! I’ve never experienced anything like it. It wasn’t like this was my first position abroad but I was in awe when I arrived in Beijing. Nothing really prepares you for the sheer size of the city, with millions of people and so much to do.

Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

Some of the tourist sites I have seen so far are The Great Wall, which is immense and so breathtaking, and The Forbidden City, which is also a great tourist area full of tradition and culture. There are lovely parks dotted around the city too, which are extremely nice to walk around on a sunny day.

What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

When I first arrived in Beijing in August it was boiling and very humid. But not uncomfortable somehow. It started to cool down a little bit towards the end of October.

 What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

The cost of living is relatively low. You can go to local markets and buy groceries quite cheaply. Also, local markets are full of great stuff and can be cheap depending on your bartering skills.

 

 

 

What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

The local food is great! The best and most famous Chinese I have had is the Peking Duck. Delicious! Basically duck wraps, but the best I’ve ever had.

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

I wouldn’t say I have experienced much culture shock as I came directly from Mongolia to Beijing and not from the UK. The biggest shock for me was how big and busy the city was rather than the actual culture.

Another of our teachers Helen Weir has written a blog about learning Mandarin, read it here.

 

 

 

What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

One of the best things about Beijing is that it is an efficient city. You can get to where you want to go by bus or subway with minimal fuss and cost. Also if you are feeling lazy and don’t want to cook or go out to eat, you can have meals delivered to your door. We all know teachers have long days and weeks working very hard, so sometimes it’s great just to go home, order some food on your phone and wait for that knock on the door!  My highlights definitely include the trip to The Great Wall. It was incredible!

Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

Teaching abroad is a big adventure, so I would say you need to be adventurous. It might be months before you get to go home so you need to be the kind of person who is open and willing to live in a country with a completely different culture. You need to be a person who is comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone; being flexible is very important. Finally, you need to be able to laugh at things that do not always go right!

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

Go for it. You only live once! Have an open mind, be patient and have fun.

 

Yew Chung Education Foundation is one of our biggest school groups in China. To find out about others, sign up here and have a look at our schools in China.  To find out more general information about international schools in China, read a blog written by our very own, Alexis Toye.

Written by Mike Manktelow, a primary teacher in his third year teaching internationally. He is currently teaching a Year 6 class in Beijing, and was in Mongolia before that.