by Jessica Gallant
Philadelphia, PA, USA
I am currently in my fourth year of teaching high school history in Philadelphia. During the middle of last year I became incredibly restless. I loved teaching, but I felt like I needed an adventure. I had heard of people moving overseas to teach English, and after some research I knew it was something I wanted to do. It seems to be the perfect opportunity for me to remain in the teaching profession and simultaneously get away from my life’ s routine. When I started my journey over a year ago all I knew was that I wanted to give ESL a try. I could never have imagined how happy I would be with my decision to teach for Super English.
Choosing Super English was easy; it was the 14 months before that decision that were the most difficult. Like many prospective ESL teachers, I began by attending a certification course. Even deciding what school to attend for my ESL certification was hard for me. I researched for about two weeks before going to Transworld Schools in San Francisco. It was there that I first realized the serious nature of the ESL world. People had made it seem like all fun, games and travel, but I learned that isn’t true. Teaching English as a second language is a lot of hard work and it takes someone who is dedicated and passionate. As soon as I completed the course, the director of my school gave me a list of 300 schools internationally to contact. In addition, I registered for just about every ESL employment site on the Internet. I got emails daily and spent hours browsing jobs. The idea of finding a job overseas was totally overwhelming.
I knew early on that Thailand was a place I wanted to go. As I continued my job search, however, it began to seem like a lesser option. Places like South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan had many jobs that had good perks and high pay. I had numerous offers that would have provided me with free airfare and high wages. My practical side had me convinced that one of these places would be better. I almost signed a contract and started the Visa process for an English school in Pusan, South Korea, but something about it didn’t feel right. I eventually realized that although teaching may be serious, I didn’t have to be so rigid about my choice of where to teach. I opened my mind again to the possibility of teaching in Thailand.
My reasons for choosing Thailand were numerous. To be honest, the first was the weather and the beaches! I thought to myself, if I am going to move half way around the world and away from everything I know and love, I do not want to deal with harsh winters or snow. Another reason I chose Thailand, and Surat Thani in particular, is because it seems to be more authentic. Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea have all been more heavily influenced by Western culture, while parts of Thailand tend to be less impacted by globalization, largely due to the fact they were never colonized by a Western power like the others. I also wanted a place where I can immerse myself in authentic Thai culture, and not have simply a tourist experience. You may have noticed that I had two conflicting desires; I wanted proximity to beaches without the atmosphere of a tourist town. Surat Thani is a perfect combination of both worlds; it is a true Thai town with ready access to Koh Samui and other popular beaches and islands.
I chose Super English for a few reasons, and as I mentioned it was a fairly easy decision. I was browsing through the available jobs on Dave’s ESL Café and I came across the ad for Super English. It included a link to the Super English website, and upon examination of the site and its stories and photos I became enamored. I could tell immediately that the place had personality. Then I saw the photos of the kids and the classrooms, the teachers, and the housing. Everything was very visually appealing and I started to imagine myself teaching the kids pictured in the classrooms, and living in one of the adorable houses. I was also enticed by the fact that an American owns the school. For me, it is comforting to know that in a foreign land there will be someone who understands where I’m coming from and who can offer me some guidance.
The interview, via Skype, is what sealed the deal for me. I was so nervous, but Peter immediately put me at ease. His line of questioning showed me that he was not only interested in my teaching credentials, but also in me as a person. It was the best interview that I have ever had. Peter is kind, funny, smart, and down to earth. About 30 minutes into it, I knew I wanted to work for him. The decision to uproot my life was not an easy one, so naturally I asked Peter a million questions, and he answered them all. Finally he asked me the one question I was waiting to hear—“Would you like a teaching position at Super English?” I was so happy—I said yes right away!
The following weeks made me completely confident in my decision. Peter made sure I felt like a part of the Super English family right away. He sent out an email to all of the other teachers announcing that I had been hired. Within hours I had emails from numerous members of the Super English community welcoming me to the team. Since then, I have been in constant contact with both Peter and the other new teachers. I have never felt so welcomed and supported at a new job. After months of being stressed out about finding a job and a country where I would feel comfortable, the search was over. I have found a home, and I am so excited about what my future holds. I can’t wait to get to Surat Thani and start my new life as a Super Teacher!