Playing Favorites to Teach Abroad

Playing Favorites to Teach Abroad by Emlyn Lee, Founder

I know parents aren’t supposed to play favorites, yet since I gave birth to C.E., I admittingly have a favorite program…Teaching English abroad. My first international experience back in 1995 was to Teach in China, and it is the foundation of Cultural Embrace’s existence. After I graduated with a liberal arts degree from the University of Maryland-College Park, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I actually had a nice corporate job, with a lot of potential to grow, but wearing pantyhose and heels were not appealing to me, and I needed a change from the metropolitan D.C. area. I contemplated Peace Corps, but not knowing where I’d be placed for two years, and the long application process was less appealing than taking the GREs and filling out grad school applications. So, I gave my first post-student ‘networking’ skills test a try, and contacted my Qi Yi Ma (Aunt #7) living in Wuhan, China, and asked if there were any opportunities for me to do something in China.

I recall my mother calling me one evening, asking in her “Oh no you di’int” tone what I did, because Qi Yi Ma (Aunt #7) CALLED from China. This is pre-Skype, pre-mobile, probably pre-cordless phone days. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if poor Qi Yi Ma had to connect long distance through a local Chinese operator to call the States. Anyways, my networking skills worked, because Qi Yi Ma hooked me up with a teaching gig at an university in Wuhan, China. Three months later, I packed a huge suitcase and duffel bag, and flew across the globe to teach English at the Wuhan Iron and Steel University.

Fast forward fifteen year (gulp-really?!), and I am back in China, but instead of being in front of the chalkboard, I’m working behind the scenes meeting with several of our ground suppliers and local coordinators for our teach, intern, volunteer, Chinese lessons, and group trips. I am checking up on our sites to make sure our ground operations are up to par and to discuss any issues we had from current and past participants. Plus, I’m finding new opportunities to expand our programs and services, as I want to China to expand their language training, in and out of their country.

I play favorites with teaching abroad because I think it’s one of the most rewarding and affordable ways to travel. What better way is there to live abroad, get paid a comfortable local salary (usually with housing included), give back and be involved within a local community? Plus, most schools in Asia (China and Thailand) offer airfare reimbursement stipends at the end of the teaching contract. And, let’s not forget to add the stress free work schedule and lifestyle, with loads of opportunities to travel, and its positive enrichment for your personal, academic, and professional endeavors!

Discover the Similarities- Share the Differences is my personal and career mantra, and since teaching abroad is my baby, I tend to put more attention and efforts with language training. Cultural Embrace plans to work with local communities abroad and in Austin to teach youths the ability to create change in their communities. We will strive to make a difference in the lives of others, all over the world, teaching them English through subjects discussing the fundamentals of leadership, civic engagement, and creativity.

We have several opportunities for you to teach abroad. If you are able to commit for a full semester (~4 months) to one academic school year (~8 months with a vacation break), we will pre-arrange a paid teaching placement in Chile, Mexico, Guatemala, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. If you are only available for 1-12 weeks, volun-teaching is another great option. We will organize an unpaid placement within a school, community center, or with a local host family. This is another meaningful and affordable way to travel and immerse within the local community, with accommodations and most meals included. We offer placements throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Everything is pre-arranged and organized prior to your departure, so you will not stress out where to go, or what to do. Foreign language and experience are certainly helpful and more influential in the placement process, however, it is not a requirement. Some of our programs include an on-line TEFL training, or in-country orientation and training, or you may opt to take additional TEFL lessons.

Check out our Teach program, and in a few weeks, we will have our updated 2011 programs and details. There will be a lot more opportunities combined with cultural orientation, teaching training and excursions. I can’t wait for you to experience one of my favorite things to do in this world!

Discover the Similarities… Share the Differences,
Founder of Cultural Embrace


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