It may hard for me to admit it right now not being able to go back home to America, but one of the best decisions I made in my life was joining the international teaching community. There are the obvious advantages such as traveling opportunities, experiencing different cultures by living in them, great work environments, and being able to work with some of the brightest young minds out there right now. But I think the things I enjoy the most is the community that comes with working international. You would think that it is huge and there would be no way to know all the people that work in this field in all of the different countries that have international schools, but this is not the case. The more I work in international teaching, the more I realize how small of a community it actually is.
Earlier this year I was talking with a friend I made out in Thailand, and he was telling me this story of his friend John and a camping experience he had in Alaska with a bear. I sat there listening to the story, and I could have sworn that I had heard it before, and I asked him if the John he was talking about was the same John I was friends with back in Korea. We found out that we had a mutual friend, and these are not the only cases. My principal right now worked with other friends of mine in Columbia. The car I bought in Thailand I bought from the same person that I bought my car from in Korea. There is a network of friends that I have all over the place in the world. I know people all over Asia, Europe, and even Africa that I could go visit at the drop of a hat. If I pick any person at the school I am currently working at, we could probably six degrees of separation and find out that we have acquaintances with other people somewhere else in this community. Even though we are spread all over the world, we still have created a small community within that world.
This is probably my favorite thing about teaching internationally. It makes me feel like I belong to something bigger, yet still feel comfortable enough with the people that I encounter to feel like it is still intimate. As I start to prepare for my sixth year overseas, I look forward to the new connections I will make this year and renewing the older ones that I have already encountered. It is one of the factors that people who are considering this field should consider because the friendships I have made through this experience will last a lifetime, and I believe you would find the same thing as well.