The Beginning of a Journey….or should I say the continuation?……


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?

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18 thoughts on “The Beginning of a Journey….or should I say the continuation?……

  1. Dear Graeme,Thank you for believing in me…Reading your comment has helped me renew the faith in myself and keep going!Have a wonderful day….Regards,Ratna

  2. I think it’s great you’re getting out there and moving forward with life. Good for you… it’ll all work out the way you want, I’m sure.

  3. Dear Robert,Thanks a lot for the compliments! Do try it out at your place, and tell me how it goes. Good Luck!Regards,Ratna

  4. Dearest Mariana,Firstly, thank you so much for the lovely thought of sending me a piece by Ivo Papazov, I’m going to listen to it the minute I finish replying you. :)And I really don’t know how to answer your question about my writing competence! My utmost gratitude for such encouraging words from you,dear Mariana, but I still feel that I need to constantly improve and develop my writing skills. There are some amazing people who write out there, one of them being a lovely teacher named Vladka from Slovakia (http://vladimiramichalkova.edublogs.org/). I love her work!Anyway you were right in thinking that I used to read a lot, and still do. I love reading and my father used to invest a huge potion of his salary buying us story books to read as a child. I believe it must’ve helped me in my writing. And I’ve always loved to write. It’s such a magical way of connecting with people :)Wishing you lovely times ahead, dear. God Bless! **hugz**Warm wishes,Ratna

  5. <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0" ><tr><td valign="top" style="font: inherit;"><b>Dear Ratna</b>,<img src="http://mail.yimg.com/nq/mc/1_0_0/mesg/tsmileys2/01.gif"><br>You are welcome! The <b>pleasure of reading your texts is grea</b>t! How did achieve such a writing competence? <br>You must have been a very committed reader! Amazing!!!<br>You said you are not a native speaker. Really?<br>I cannot imagine if you were!Surely, you have very&nbsp; good educational background!<br>Thank you a million about the reply!<br>It would be an honour for me if we could keep in touch!<img src="http://mail.yimg.com/nq/mc/1_0_0/mesg/tsmileys2/01.gif"><br><b>Wish you the best in Korea!</b><img src="http://mail.yimg.com/nq/mc/1_0_0/mesg/tsmileys2/01.gif"><br>Mariana Manolova<br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joGyi5Wp5NQ<br><br><br>Greetings from my beautiful country Bulgaria,<br>with the amazing sounds of Ivo Papazov!<br>—</td></tr></table>

  6. Dear Mariana,Loads of thanks for your compliments:)….glad you enjoyed the read.!Regards,Ratna

  7. Dear Mona,:)Really happy to hear from you, and that it inspired you. You’re definitely a wonderful teacher, I’m sure of that!:))))

  8. That was an inspiring story my dear… Gives a push to anyone who might think twice about teaching career… It inspired me… Keep up ur good work…

  9. Dearest Kavi,I’m glad it inspired you! You know I’ve always envied your mastery of yoga. Just keep thinking of how, and keep trying, I’m sure you’d be able to get yoga classes going very soon! Power of attraction…..:)

  10. Very very inspiring Ratna. A very good reminder to keep my Yoga teaching going in a foreign country too. I seem to be figthing against time to make it happen. Surely there must be a way.

  11. Dear Vladka,You’re most welcome, dear. ! It’s always a good feeling to make someone’s day, isn’t it?And to answer your question, it’s no one’s English. It’s yours, and mine, and every other person in this globe.:). I hope you have a bright day today:).

  12. Very beautiful and encouraging story. I feel the same about it. Why is it that I have to prove not my enthusiasm, passion and abilities to teach but whether or not I fit what some once defined "native" .Anyway, whose English is it now? Whose language is it if not of those who love and nurture it? Thank you for great reading this morning here in Slovakia. Looking forward to read more! X

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