Teaching overseas is benefitting my entire family
Adam Wunker is a teacher from Toronto, Canada. He teaches English and is currently living in China, working at Harrow International School Beijing with his family, including two young children. Here Adam talks about his experiences:
“I wanted to live a more interesting life. Teaching internationally was a chance to live a life that went beyond the 9 to 5 grind of a day job; a routine I’d seen so many friends falling into. I also viewed it as an opportunity to travel. Canada is quite isolated from the rest of the world and it was difficult and expensive to visit other countries. Teaching overseas offered me the chance to have new experiences and open my mind. We all like to think we are open-minded, but you never really find out if you are until you’re confronted with a situation which challenges you.
Developing as a teacher
Teaching at an international school has made me re-examine my own cultural biases and expectations. Working with students who are learning English and coming from different cultures with different customs and history has forced me to explain things that I once took for granted.
Opportunities for my children
Living in Beijing is providing many opportunities for our children. My daughter attends nursery school at Harrow and my son will start there next year. Learning a foreign language from a young age is certainly a major benefit; our children are both bilingual in Mandarin and English. My daughter is as close to fluent as can be expected for a four-year-old. My son speaks more Mandarin than English as he approaches two and a half.
Both our children are well-travelled, without being old enough to fully appreciate what that means! I think as they get older they will start to understand just how few people really comprehend how others live around the world. Many amazing experiences are open to us and on our doorstep; visiting Xi'an to see the terracotta warriors, walking in Tiananmen Square, on the Great Wall, and through traditional Beijing hutongs.
In most international schools, there is a strong sense of camaraderie. There’s a ready social scene for people who want to make friends and get to know their colleagues and I've been able to meet people who I might not otherwise have encountered. That being said, it can be difficult if you don’t live in a city with a large population of expats and I believe it’s important to get out into the wider community to help feel integrated.
If you’re thinking of teaching overseas
I would recommend international teaching to anyone who wants a genuinely unique experience, or a wider view of the world. To get the most out of teaching internationally, I would suggest having an open mind and a willingness to give up your usual comforts and to experience new things. Plan to bring with you just enough to be comfortable. In short, if you prepare for an adventure, then that's what you will have!”
TIC helped Adam find his job and be selected for his teaching position at Harrow International School Beijing. You’ll find plenty more advice about teaching in international schools in our Teacher’s Stories section of the TIC website.