Is teaching a career?
I wouldn’t say so. To me, teaching is a journey. It’s a path of self-discovery. It helps you explore your innate nature; who you were, who you are, and who you’ll be. It leads you to try things you’ve never thought of trying, to challenge yourself, to bypass personalities and peer into an individual’s very being.
I’m an English language teacher. I love every minute detail about teaching. Every class is an adventure that leads you to new discoveries. I had a wonderful teaching career back in Malaysia; multinational learners, opportunities to conduct trainings, and trying out new methodologies in the classroom.
And then…one fine day my husband got a job in Korea. I quit my job, packed my bags and followed suite. And nothing has ever been the same again, truly. Why do I say this?
Well, the honest truth is, I’m a non-native teacher. It means I come from a country which does not belong in the “native speakers” category. Which means that it doesn’t matter that I’ve got postgraduate qualification in teaching English. Or a TESOL certification. Or experience with learners from literally around the world (Korea included). Or that I have a native speaker like ability (or almost). Or the very fact that I love and am absolutely passionate about what I do. It doesn’t. Period.
And this truth really affected me deep down to my core. Here I am, being able to contribute towards educating the people of Korea, and yet, I’m turned down for not being a “native-speaker”. What can I say?
Well, I have to do SOMETHING, right? Can’t just be hovering over the “Oh-I’m-feeling-dejected” mode. So, I started making friends. I started learning Korean. I started speaking to people at the park that I go to, in broken Korean, amidst the fit of laughter that I get. And this eventually led me to meeting a local Korean teacher. She observed me teach a group of middle-aged ladies at a local cultural center, and things have never really been the same again!
And why have I forgotten the fact that when, one door closes, another opens? And this one being a giant fairytale of sorts. A remarkable person named Chuck Sandy gave me an opportunity to do a writeup on the International Teacher Development Institute’s (ITDI) blog. He opened doors for me to meet English language teachers around Korea. He introduced me to the concept of “community of practice”, and he was the doorkeeper of the huge fairytale door I was telling you about. And what a sight it was on other side of the door!
So, am I happy in Korea? Yes, I am.
Am I regretting not having a full-time job? Well, not really.
Am I successful? It depends on what you define as being successful. If success means having the opportunity to connect with like-minded teachers from around the world, then yes, I am successful.
And lastly, do I regret leaving my job in Malaysia? Not in a single day. That was the best decision I made this year.
As I said, when one door closes, another opens. Perhaps more to come!
They can’t be wrong when they say “An end is usually a beginning”, can they?