Facing My Fear: Teaching Abroad and Embarking on a New Adventure
| Teaching House Nomads Blog
Georgina Sanchez is a Teaching House New York CELTA graduate and a special guest writer for the Teaching House Blog. She is living and working in Vietnam, where Teaching House is sponsoring her on a charity bike ride to benefit Saigon Children’s Charity. She’s riding the length of the country, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city, over 2000 kms. You can support Georgina on her quest by going to her donation page here.
If you would have told me seven months ago that I would be living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam I would have said “never” or “you’re crazy!” but yet here I am. Living halfway across the world, away from my family and friends. However this is one decision that I do not regret making.
I had come to the realization that I needed a change in my life. I was tired of the 9-5, and while I loved the people I worked with, I just wasn’t happy anymore. I had been interested in teaching abroad but had been too scared to do it. Then I met a good friend’s sister who told me about her experience teaching abroad in Japan and how much she loved it. Epi and her story reignited that feeling of wanting to travel and explore the world and teaching English as a second language would be my ticket to that world.
I began researching different TEFL courses but I had trouble working out which ones were legitimate, there was too much choice! I decided to email Epi and ask her which TEFL program she chose. She advised me that when it came to teaching English the best certification to receive was the CELTA from Cambridge University. She told me it was highly regarded by schools and looked a clear number one choice. There was no question about it, I chose to do the CELTA. I signed up with Teaching House New York, and within a few weeks I was studying for the CELTA part-time and working full-time. The CELTA helped me become a better English teacher and even if I decide to move outside the ESL world, the student-centered approach favored by the CELTA has giving me a good teaching foundation in general. I did the CELTA as a part-time student because I was working full time, but even then it was a highly stressful ten weeks! To be honest I had trouble learning to be a student after being out of school for so long. The great thing of doing an in-person certification program like the CELTA is that you receive lots of real observed teaching time and being able to lean on the shoulders of my fellow trainees really helped me get through the program. Though we may never meet again after those ten weeks we were best friends and family. Not to mention I had great mentors to guide me and help me through the process.
I received my CELTA certificate on March 21, 2015 and a few months later I was moving halfway across the world to teach at ILA in Vietnam. Moving to Vietnam was not an easy decision but I knew it was something that I needed to do for myself. To take that chance and face my fears as well as beginning a new chapter in my life. ILA is a language school with various schools throughout Vietnam. I teach in what would be considered the headquarters. Teaching at ILA has been a truly amazing experience and it’s a great place for new teachers to begin. I teach in HCMC which is very chaotic, loud and unfortunately a very polluted city. Putting all that aside I have met and made an amazing group of friends, each with something unique to offer. When you teach abroad you have the opportunity to meet all kinds of people from different walks of life which is why working at ILA is so great. You meet someone new every day.
After living in HCMC for seven months I decided to partake in an exciting adventure. For the month of April 2016, I’m taking on a challenge greater than anything else I have ever done – cycling the length of Vietnam. My team and I begin in Hanoi, and end up 2,000 km south in Ho Chi Minh City. After living in this country for five months I was ready to take on this challenge.
I am doing the H2H ride for a couple of reasons. First, I want to help give Vietnamese children an opportunity to have an education and make the most of life. Second, Vietnam is great country but there is a lot of poverty. Many people do not have decent wages or benefits; if I can help make a difference then I will. Third, I love a personal challenge. I have never cycled more than 20 miles in a day, so cycling 1,250 miles (2,000 km) will definitely push me physically and mentally. My team and I have been training for months and cannot wait for this adventure to begin. Wish me the best of luck!