Continuing our new series of Ask the Expert posts, we chat with the Teacher Horizons team who share their valuable insight into the world of international teaching.  This week I chatted with Emily, the Operation Manager, who enjoys the simple things in life like hanging with her friends and family over a cup of tea, has an unrivalled passion for dance and a lot of love towards her adopted Cambodian dog. Read on for the low-down on what happens behind the scenes at Teacher Horizons, living in Cambodia and the importance of taking time to reset and consider your priorities in life.    

Nearby the majestic Angkor Wat, amidst a stifling heat and surrounded by rice paddies and the abundantCambo Mekong river a team are hard at work bringing magic to life. Emily who heads up this behind the scenes dream team in Siem Reap, Cambodia describes the operations team as the “nuts and bolts” of Teacher Horizons.  The company, which provides advice and support to over 200,000 teachers to build their experiences in international teaching, requires a team of incredibly passionate, hard workers to make this happen. Working actively with over a thousand schools in over 50 countries this is no small feat. The Operations team based in Siem Reap, Cambodia take on varied roles from the technology of the online platform, finance and HR, centralizing the work of Teacher Horizons, making sure teachers are support
ed and ensuring that a happy team of staff thrive…and this barely scratches the surface.

Meet Emily!

Emily, from the UK, lived in Lblog pic 2ondon after University. Inspired to travel the world she worked hard to save and plan for a dream trip to Southeast Asia and beyond. However, this changed as her close friends shared their experiences of teaching and living abroad. Emily decided to follow suit and soon she found herself in Cambodia as a teaching assistant. There she met Anisha, a Teacher Horizons staff member, and she learned of an opening for a Teacher Horizons role.  It all worked out wonderfully and as Operations Manager, Emily lived in Siem Reap for 3 years before heading back to the UK six months ago where she continues heading up the operations while connecting back with friends and family in England.

Life in the shadows of Angkor.

Emily talks about her time in Siem Reap with great affection. She loves the relaxed lifestyle, the opportunity for easy travel, the low cost of living and the multiple cafes and bars. However, she isn’t wearing rose-tinted glasses and acknowledges the challenges that come with living there from missing family, scary motorbike accidents, the lack of free and good quality healthcare and the mosquitos –“I do not miss them!” she proclaims.

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Louie for blog

Emily was busy over in Siem Reap. As well as heading up the ops team she also set up a dance school, adopted a Cambodian street dog and travelled a lot. I chatted to Emily while she was in Somerset, England where she reflects on the transition. “Siem Reap can be a bit of a bubble, you have to step out of it,” she says as she describes how it can sometimes feel like an escape from real life. In Somerset, Emily is reconnecting with friends and family and adjusting back to life in the UK. She believes in the importance of taking a step back and taking the time to evaluate where you are and where you want to go. The familiarity and quietness of Somerset life allow her to do this. Emily reflects on time in SR – “everything is very present and you don’t really get a chance to plan anything past the following weekend”.  Recognizing the charm in that she is also happy to have the time for space and consideration now.  She keeps connected to Siem Reap, not just through her work with the TH team but also because she has her dog, rescued from the streets of Siem Reap, with her in the UK now! After an arduous journey of travelling back with a pet to England, she is over the moon to have her dog with her. You can read more about travelling with Pets here

 The power of Dance.

blog picsEmily has always been a dancer since around the age of 2 or 3.  When she went out to Cambodia she really missed it and didn’t see any opportunities there so she decided to set up her own school, kind of like a Franchise of London school she worked at.  The experience was nothing like she expected. It was really eye-opening and has relaxed her into a new way of dancing beyond the constraints that often comes with the Ballet world.  Far from the uninformed and meticulous Ballet dancers in London with their pulled back hair and shiny, new leotards from high-end establishments, here the kids donned hand me down ballet suits and sported orange dust from playing outside before class. This was ballet like never before and so much fun!  She saw the kids change from toddlers into bright young children and marvelled in the moments where all of a sudden they would get a move that they had been working on for some time.  Emily describes the dialogue that can happen through dance, the vulnerability needed and how it creates a space for building trusting relationships.

It has been wonderfully inspiring chatting with Emily about the TH team, her hobbies, Siem Reap and beyond and over the next month we will continue our Ask the Expert series.

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