International School Community Member Spotlight #19: Andrew Vivian (An veteran international teacher currently working at MV Education Services)
December 1, 2012
(This member spotlight is a continuation from an interview we did earlier which can be found here.)
From there, we spent a year in Guangzhou, China, at Utahloy International School, with Helen as Primary Principal and me as Head of Science. Guangzhou, despite the air quality, was a really nice place to live. We started off in an apartment in town, while we looked for a place big enough to hold our material possessions – for us, home is where we live, and we take our furniture and everything with us, so relocation costs are substantial. We ended up in a ground-floor apartment out of town, but only a cheap 30-minute taxi ride to “the action”. The shopping was the main attraction, particularly for Helen,
We were asked to come and work at a school in Jakarta, and relocated, because we wanted to continue teacher training and we love Indonesia. Things didn’t work out, and we decided to try our hands at consulting, because we have a lot of connections with Indonesian private schools and Helen is a well-established Primary Years Programme workshop leader for the IB. After a year and a half for Helen, and a year for me, we are keeping the wolf from the door. Helen does a lot of IB workshops around Asia, and is working with the management of a school in East Jakarta. I’ve done one workshop for the IB, a few in Jakarta and one in Beijing. My main work has been a couple of tours doing school inspections in Dubai. I’ve done some course writing and prepared some teaching materials for a couple of organisations. We have just finalised our working visas and our Indonesian company, and will, hopefully, be expanding our business soon.
Teaching internationally has been great for us. We’ve had a few heartbreaks, but, overall we have been able to save money, travel, and every day brings a new experience. We have been to most of the countries in Asia, and some amazing places in them. We speak Bahasa Indonesia, so, when we see something interesting, we can ask questions. One of our delights in Surabaya was just walking through the villages behind us, and talking to the locals.
We’ve had a lot of funny experiences, and no really dangerous ones. For example, we were on a boat up river in Kalimantan, after visiting the orang-utan sanctuary, when the boat broke down, 50 km from the port. We literally hitch-hiked with a passing fisherman. Enroute to Tibet, we stopped in Chengdu, in China. We caught a taxi to a restaurant recommended in a guide book. Half-way there, we realised that we didn’t have the hotel’s card, so we had no way of knowing where to go back to or how to communicate it to anyone. After dinner it took us two taxi rides and a 1km walk before we recognised a landmark.
International schools are funny places – some are excellent. Also, the “true” international schools now make up only a fraction of the places in which you can teach internationally and in tougher economic times, in Asia, at least, they have increasing numbers of local students anyway. Overall the positives tend to outweigh the negatives. Our philosophy is that we want to make a difference, so that working in host-country schools that offer IB programmes is our preference. Not everyone is comfortable in these sort of schools, but they are the places that give real insight into other cultures.
Many people like to teach overseas for the change in locale. That is a factor for us, but it is more about the sort of school we work in. For us, working in IB schools has been fabulous. We have been to most of the regional conferences over the past ten years and have met so many talented, committed people. We get to visit schools and help teachers do it better. In the process, we keep learning something new about education most days.
One thing I would recommend is to get everything in writing and even then, depending on which country you are in, it doesn’t matter any way if someone decides to be unpleasant. If you are prepared to “roll with the punches”, while sticking to your principles, then teaching internationally can be amongst the best things you can do in education.
In 5 words: adventure, culture, education, difference, satisfaction.
Make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.
If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here. If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!
Want to work for an international school in Guangzhou like Andrew? Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in Guangzhou on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:
• American International School of Guangzhou (12 Comments)
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November 19, 2012
How important is your hair to you? For some, it is quite important! Many of us, once we find a good hair stylist, we stay with that person for awhile. Why take a chance on another salon and stylist and receive a potential “bad haircut?” Others like the challenge of finding the perfect stylist to do the perfect haircut, so they hop around trying new ones every time they need a haircut.
In your home country, you can just make an appointment or walk-in to any hair cutting salon and get your haircut by a hairstylist who most likely will be able to speak to you in your home language; easier to avoid a bad haircut when you are able to communicate exactly what you would like. Well at times, it can though be a little bit challenging communicating what you would like in your home language too I suppose.
Now, living in another country, things can definitely be a challenge and quite different. You maybe are now not able to go just anywhere to get your hair cut. You may also be presented with some big challenges with communication. Some big cities around the world would for sure have stylists that can speak your home language (English we will say for the purposes of this article), but paying the potential very high price for a stylist that can speak English may not be the best option for you. In other cities you will just have to get your haircut speaking (or not speaking) in another language which can be quite the experience (and nerve-wreaking)! If you are highly proficient in the host country language, then maybe it is not a big deal. However if the host language is new to you or you lack the correct hair-cutting vocabulary, it is can be a challenging experience.
If you don’t know the language, you are left with two options: one is to just go into a salon, point to your hair and make lots of gestures, and just sit there…no talking. Well there is talking going on, you are speaking English and stylist is speaking their language…but no listening comprehension though is happening. Another option I suppose is to invite a friend or colleague with you that can speak the language to be your interpreter and hopefully stay the whole time that you are in the salon.
The trust factor has to be high when getting your haircut in another country, but I suppose that there is always a trust factor involved when you are getting your haircut disregarding whether you can speak the language or not.
Now on to price!
Are you living in a country where haircuts are 1-2 USD, the same price you would pay in your home country or are you living in a country where an average haircut is way above what you would normally pay back home? It is nice to pay hardly anything to get your haircut. Some guys get their haircut every 3-4 weeks, so that can add up in some countries in the world. In China, it is definitely possible for a guy to get their haircut for 1-2 U.S. Dollars. It may not be in the nicest salon on the planet, but it will get the job done. Also in China if you pay a little bit more money, they will shampoo and wash your hair as well. They have an interesting system devised for this. Typically when you sit down one employee will put a little bit of shampoo on your hair (remember now you are still sitting in the normal chair that the hair stylist will give you your haircut in…with dry hair). The system involves slowly adding water to the shampoo as they work it into your hair. It all works very well actually as no water or shampoo falls down. If you are luckily, the whole lathering part is actually a very nice head massage. That same employee will then take you over to the sinks to wash out the shampoo. When that employee brings you back to your chair, they move on to another client to shampoo their hair as another employee (the actual hairstylist) comes over to start cutting your hair.
This experience is all nice and wonderful, that is if you can get yourself in the door of the salon. In a not so fond culture shock moment for you, it is possible you might be turned away when you don’t speak the language. Sometimes to clear up any confusion on anyone’s part, it is always good to get a set price for your haircut before you sit down in the chair. If you know how much haircuts are going for in your host city, then there is usually no problem with agreeing on a price for your haircut (usually a calculator is shown to you at this point). However, if you don’t know what the going price is, sometimes you can feel like your a getting ripped off. Even before there is a discussion about price, you might feel unwanted or turned away. The reason is not always known, but the lack of communication is just too much for some people and even a smile doesn’t help.
I used to make that one goal of mine. How many different countries can I get my haircut in? One time in Botswana, I was in a rural location. I saw a 3-walled wooden shack that had an image of some people and the words hair cut on a sign. I went in to get my haircut with the help of my local tour guide. He got a haircut first actually and then it was my turn. My tour guide explained what I wanted, but that didn’t even matter. The guy cutting hair said that he had never cut a white man’s hair before, so he didn’t know what to do! I just told him to buzz it all off then, since he did have clippers.
It turned out to get a great buzz-cut and a fun, memorable cross-cultural experience.
Now it is not so bad to get your haircut in a shack, but what about just outside on a busy street? While traveling in Delhi, I found that getting your haircut in the street to be quite commonplace. How great to live in a country where you can give haircuts outside all year round? I’m sure the stylist will do their best work too as there are many eyes watching around him/her and they all could be potential future clients!
So what’s your strategy to get a haircut in the country you live in? What language do you speak in? How much money do you pay? Share your cross-culture haircut stories!
culture shock, expat life, getting your haircut in another culture, hair, hair cut, in other countries, international educator, international teacher, living abroad, living life abroad,
Highlighted Article: An educator shares about his over 20 years of experience working at and with international schools (Part 1)
October 9, 2012
An educator shares about his experiences working over 20 years in and with international schools (Part 1)
I began teaching a long time ago, in a brand new high school, 35km south east of Melbourne, Australia. I was trained as a Science and Mathematics teacher, but, over the years, I’ve taught just about everything except Art – it has really helped to give me an understanding of how young people learn. I worked in secondary schools around Melbourne for a while, and had a stint as a government curriculum consultant in my district.
A friend had induced my former wife and I to go on a group tour to Bali, the first time I had been overseas (like many, many Australians). We then visited the same friend when she went to work in Penang, and then I was fortunate to be part of a trip to Los Angeles and Brazil through Rotary.
My former spotted an advertisement in the paper for Hiroshima International School. I applied, and got the job as the teacher of 25 grade 6 to 10 students. At that time, the school was in the process of planning a move from a small warehouse in the inner suburbs to a new school further out. We had two small children, and lived in a house about 1km up the hill (and there are plenty of them in Japan) from the school.
Living in Japan was wonderful, and we had a lot of amazing experiences. We made friends with our neighbours, even though only one of them spoke English, and we spoke virtually no Japanese. Everyone we met was very friendly. We returned to Melbourne after one year and resumed a normal suburban existence.
My true international career began much later, when things weren’t going that well in my life. I went to an information night for a recruiting agent. It was mentioned that Bali International School needed an IT person, so I went home, adjusted my CV accordingly, and got the job. I worked with some very talented teachers in a small school, and met my wife, Helen, there. During my fourth year, things didn’t quite go to plan, and I found myself helping a friend establish a small school, which became an economic casualty of the Bali bombing. It was at B.I.S. that I first became involved with the International Baccalaureate, through the Middle Years Programme. I really liked it, because it was in line with what we had been doing in secondary schools back in Australia. Bali was a good place to live, and we all worked hard and partied hard.
Helen and I found jobs at Sekolah Ciputra, in Surabaya. I was running their new international program, out of Melbourne, with 12 students out of 90 in Grade 12. Helen was a classroom teacher, but, during the break, successfully applied for the position of Elementary Principal. By the end of the first year, I found myself as Secondary Principal. We were there for seven years, and turned it into an excellent 3-programme IB school. A major factor was the professional development that we did with our colleagues every week. It was very difficult at first, because we were foreigners who were really changing the paradigms, but we persevered and still keep in touch with many of our Indonesian colleagues.
The school was in a large estate on the western outskirts of the city, and we had a great lifestyle, Golf, on a fabulous course, was part of the contracts, and we often hacked our way around. We could go for bicycle ride out through the villages on the weekends and there was enough to do in the city to keep us occupied.
Stay tuned next month for the 2nd part of this article. In the meantime, make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.
Bali International School, Hiroshima International School, internatioanl school community, international educator, international school teacher, international schools, interviewing, Sekolah Ciputra, teaching abroad,
July 25, 2012
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 21st blog that we would like to highlight is called “Art Teach Travel” Check out the blog entries of this school teacher who has lived and worked in the United States for many years teaching art. She has aspirations to join the international school community in the very near future. She has written some great insight related to the different kinds of international school recruitment fairs currently on offer to people looking for a job at an international school.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“Since 1955, International Schools Services (ISS) has been dedicated to providing international students access to a premier Western education. It is difficult for ISS to give me data regarding how many art positions are available each year because, unlike UNI, they have continual, year-round recruitment fairs at various locations around the world. Currently, ISS has five recruitment conferences scheduled in 2012-13 to include Philadelphia; Nice, France; Atlanta; Bangkok and San Francisco. There will be more posted as dates are confirmed.
In 2010, a variety of schools, in countries such as China, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and Vietnam, needed art teachers but each year the represented schools and countries are varied. There is no way to predict how many schools from how many countries will need art teachers each year. When I recently inquired there were 11 positions most recently available…”
I think about this too. For most teachers looking for a job at an international school, in any given year, always must take a gamble. The gamble is just how this blogger described: you never know what vacancies are going to be available the year you decide to look for a job abroad (and in the city or country you most want to work in). Some more experienced teachers in the international school community do tend to wait until the right job comes up (usually found out through their extensive network of international educator colleagues) and then they decide to leave their current school. However, there are a number of teachers that don’t have that luxury and they take a big chance that the perfect job will present itself the year they decide to look. Going to the recruitment fair is fun though really. If you are luckily, you have many interviews to consider at the fair. I think I went to about seven interviews at the last recruitment fair that I attended. They say to even go to the ones that you are pretty sure you are not interested in…because “you never know.” Also, it is quite interesting to learn more about the many different international schools around the world and what they are doing and have to offer.
It is good to check how many positions are available on the recruitment fair’s website before you get to the fair, but it is also good to know that things can change very quickly. The vacancies listed on their website can change….a lot, so be prepared as you are walking around during the first round robin session and checking out their vacancies posters. Though on the other hand, if you have contacted a school beforehand and they have shown interest in you about a vacancy, still go up to the table and get the latest update (if you don’t see the vacancy listed on the poster), as you never know what has happened and the position might indeed be available again in a day, a week, etc…
“So now, years later, I’m asking the same question: Should I stay or should I go? This time, I’m talking about my job, the Dallas art scene, my home in Texas and my country. I’ve been exploring how to combine my love of teaching with my love of adventure and travel. Teaching art in an international school may be my way to do that.
Although there are many educational placement companies, I have narrowed my search down to three: UNI (University of Northern Iowa), ISS (International Schools Services) and SA (Search Associates). Although I’ve never taught internationally, I have read many others’ personal accounts through various forum blogs…”
Waiting for the right time to enter the international school community can take awhile for some people. Taking the risk of leaving your current job in your home country, leaving your friends and family, and then ultimately leaving your home country itself is quite the challenge. I remember my teacher friends being ready years before me. I had many things that I had to deal with first, and it took me six years (after I first started teaching with my teaching license) until my life was ready to finally go to a recruitment fair. I don’t remember thinking that staying (in my current job and home country) really was option anymore…once I had finally made my decision to teach abroad. Luckily, things worked out well and I got the job of my dreams at the first recruitment fair that I had ever been to, with no prior international school teaching experience. I think the “power” was definitely in the candidate’s favor back then!
Now I am currently at my third international school, and I still ask the questions to myself “Should I stay or should I go?” Even though most contracts are for two years, it is always good to stay a little bit after that initial contract and sometimes there is a nice financial incentive to stay longer too! Your school in your home country probably wouldn’t be offering you any bonuses to stay with them! One of the many perks teaching at international schools versus teaching in your home country.
If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1245+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.
Blogs of International Teachers
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July 22, 2012
There are so many international schools in Hong Kong. Which ones are good places for international school teachers to work at? How does the international teaching community view the international schools there?
Inspiring speech by the founder of this school – Dr. Mel Kieschnick. What a history this school must have being that it was founded back in 1956!d
There have been 33 comments and information submitted on this international school on our website. Want to know more about what life is like as a teacher at this international school? Take a look a their profile page on our website – Hong Kong International School
Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 23 international schools listed in the city of Hong Kong. The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school. Here are a just a few of them:
• American International School (Hong Kong) (22 Comments)
If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Hong Kong, log-on today and submit your own comments and information. If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!
American International School (Hong Kong), Hong Kong Academy Primary School, Hong Kong International School, International Christian School (Hong Kong), international educator, international school, international school teacher, international schools, international schools in hong kong, Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, Renaissance College Hong Kong, Singapore International School (Hong Kong), teaching in hong kong, thailand, Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong),
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