With the financial crisis is in full swing, soaring unemployment rates and job cuts are affecting Americans of all generations. So what do you do if you’re a college graduate looking to apply your hard-earned skills? Well, two recent RWU alumni took their job searches global, forgoing the typical paths to instead start teaching careers in South Korea.
For Alex Nichol ’07, the global seed was planted while he studied at the School of Education, and teaching in South Korea seemed an attractive option upon graduation. During his yearlong stint overseas, Nichol taught students ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade and focused on subjects that included reading, writing, vocabulary, phonics, science and arts and crafts.
Now a teacher at Nature’s Classroom in Connecticut, he says that his initial trepidation about teaching abroad subsided as he adjusted. “I knew I’d get great teaching experience, and I’ve started encouraging other people to consider teaching abroad,” he says. “It’s a great chance to go see another part of the world. And it’s amazing how far from home a Roger Williams degree can get you.”
Danielle Bedard ’07 also traveled to South Korea for a teaching assignment, albeit one a bit different than Nichol’s. Heading overseas from a position with the New Bedford, Mass., school district, Bedard says she wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
“I had heard about a few of the resources that this school would have to offer,” she says. “I knew there was a pool, a squash court, a weight room, a soccer field and cardio equipment. And I knew I would have access to a few teaching materials that I didn’t have in New Bedford! But when I saw my classroom and heard about some of the nifty teaching tools, I was giddy.”
Bedard began her second year in South Korea this past fall. “Year two is an entirely different experience than year one,” she says. “Although there is still so much to learn about the Korean culture, I’m not as shocked by things as I was last year. Exploring the country, I’ve advanced from the role of follower to fearless-but-often-confused leader. There’s a whole new crew of teachers this year who assume that as a one-year veteran, I’ll know where to go and how to get there!”
The wealth of resources provided to teachers, however, also comes with added expectations: “Kids who read and write well, parents who are able to invest money and effort into the education of their children, and all the teaching resources I could ask for – the rest of the responsibility is on me.”
This article originally appeared in RWU Magazine in fall 2008.