How did you connect with this job
My sister’s roommate, a missionary kid, had taken courses with the
online school of NICS (Network of International Christian Schools). Her mother told me about the umbrella
organization to give me a launch start in my research of Christian
international teaching opportunities.
What attracted you to this
At first, I applied without telling anyone. It was five days after
graduation. I really thought I would attend graduate school. I even
thought about serving my country for a while. As cliché as it sounds, I
applied by conviction. Mrs. Carlson told me about NICS in February. Yet
it continued to brew in the back of my mind. The same happened with how
I ended up applying to GCC. I figured there would be no harm but to drop
my name in the applicant pool!
What are the most gratifying
aspects of your job?
The students! There are also colleagues with whom I work who are
brilliant in character and personality. On top of that, some parents are
just lovely acquaintances. Probably the best answer to your question is:
What has been your biggest
challenge as a first-year teacher?
Not burning out. Attitude issues come up as well in the classroom. On a
whole, though, it is finding balance. I want to provide a quality,
intensive learning environment. But at times, I am so worn that I
literally get sick and have cold and flu symptoms at the end of the day.
There is a time to plug in hours at work; there are times to leave work
alone. I am fortunate enough to have young children. Parents are not as
uptight as those of older students. Ultimately, for me, it helps that my
kids and I love to laugh. I do not know if I could get through the day
without lots of it! Plus, lots of prayer as well as involvement with
people outside of the job (for me, non-elementary) help bring that
How did your time at GCC prepare
you for the teaching field? Confidence. I am not perfect and will always be
learning how to better instruct my students. However, with all the
paperwork we did at GCC, it more than prepared me for what is required
of me. Frankly, I think the education classes, fields and even student
teaching were more demanding in some ways than what I have now. Also, I
absolutely loved investing in relationships at school. At GCC, I learned
to invest outside of the teaching job to bring balance to my life. Here,
I have co-coached cross-country and will help with track, am involved
with YoungLife and tutor two intensive ESL students from Ethiopia (one
of which is in my regular class).
What advice would you give to a
current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future
Prioritize and balance. Keep in check what is important in life. There
are teachers here who stay at school overnight on a regular basis
because they have so much grading. Your job should never consume you. Be
consumed in prayer and quiet time. Jesus Himself took leave at times
from the crowds for His alone time with the Father. If you have your
priorities straight, all else will fall in line better. You will have
weary days. But it will never become a burden. It should not be a
burden, but a joy and privilege. Despite how tired I feel, once I pick
up my kids and I see their energetic bodies and sweaty little faces, my
What job search tips would you
give to GCC students?
Keep your options open! This was my mother’s wise advice when I shared
my apprehensions about teaching the months prior to graduation. My
father also prompted me to not ignore the training I received from GCC.
Do not underestimate where the Father might take you. It all begins with
being content, flexible and willing. His desires become yours.
What are the challenges and
rewards of teaching in another culture?
As I grew up Chinese-American, I understand a bit of the Asian culture
more so than many of my American colleagues. If anything, it is tricky
teaching at an international school. Some children are quite hostile and
prejudice towards others. I have an American who reads at a 5th grade
level. But her math was so poor that she struggled to add 18+1 when I
first taught three months ago. On top of that, she was a red-head with
very fair skin. It was obvious she felt inferior to the ten other Asian
students who performed well all-around. She and another American girl
have a hard time in Mandarin class. Thus, they bolstered themselves by
talking about the books they read. At the same time, I am dealing with a
few Asian students who are always telling their classmates that the work
is easy. Humility is hard to teach, but grade 2B is working on it. As
for rewards, it is the cultural diversity and experiences these children
bring to the class. I value each heritage. We integrate it on occasion
in lessons which I think helps alleviate the sense of racial division.
What does bond us is that nobody has a “home” because we all moved. It
is simpler to teach about how the world is not our home because we have
all been displaced.
What are the challenges and
rewards of living in another culture?
I will answer specifically to Singapore. Singapore is not a difficult
adjustment for many who have traveled previously. In a lot of ways, it
is a westernized country with Asian roots. I like how I meet people who
hesitate to answer, “Where are you from?” because they were uprooted a
number of times. It is nice to meet others who understand that. That is
a plus living in a culture that includes internationals. A cherry on top
is how all the public transportation and nearly all buildings have AC
(which actually I have grown sensitive to because I adjusted to the heat
and humidity here).
However, out of this comes the difficulty. It is a
materialistic society. People, including my students, are spoiled and
comfortable. Thankfully, my kids are young and learn quickly for the
most part. Yet, though Singapore is so westernized in many ways, it is so
stuck in the past as if it were a third-world country. I see glimpses of
it in the class system. The Indians are in the lowest class. They clean
the toilets, take the garbage out or do construction work. Filipinos and
Indonesians are maids or cleaners. Many are ill-treated and underpaid.
One watches how these different ethnic groups interact. They sit or
stand stiffly next to each other on the buses and MRT (Mass Rapid
Transit—the train). You see them living together because Singapore
demands it, but you can feel the tension.
It might be helpful to
define “another culture”. Singapore is a confused mixture. For example,
the language demonstrates this: we say “air con”, “queue” and “alight”.
Check is spelled “cheque”. Then you have Singaporeans who speak bits of
different Chinese dialects, a little Malay and a tad of English. Finally,
you have the other Asian ethnic groups who live in Singapore for years at
a time to save money. It is a convenient place to live. The metro comes on
time. Stores and malls offer many physical comforts. It is all about me
and now. There is great need for living a quality-filled life. Singapore
has a lot of need, but it comes in a different form than those of other
Within this context comes a wonderful opportunity for outreach. Technically,
NICS hired me as a missionary. This is noted in my paperwork. I just use
teaching as a means of being here and building relationships to