This week's story is from Jean Gray. Jean has been working as an English language teacher in Korea for about 7 years. She and I worked together at KAIST and she is still a Visiting Professor in the Language Center. In this story I got to pay it forward.
Networking isn’t necessarily the purview of extroverts.I first encountered Tim Thompson at a language school orientation. He was giving a presentation to a group of incoming teachers that I happened to catch. During that presentation he made a statement about teaching that eventually led to a profound change in my perception of my role as in a language classroom. He said, "When you teach middle school students, you are preparing them for high school. When you teach high school students, you are preparing them for university. When you teach elementary school students, just don't break the kids."
I was, and still am, very introverted, so only a powerful statement could have made me go introduce myself to a complete stranger and thank him for making me think in a new way. I did that and we parted ways, but I left with his business card in my pocket.
Life moved on, time passed, and that job ended for me. I went home to the USA for a short-term teaching job. Later that year I was preparing to return to South Korea for a new job teaching adult students. I had previously only taught children, but I was interested in teaching at the university level. This new job was a step toward getting the experience necessary to moving into university teaching in South Korea. Tim and I had stayed in touch via social media. I was thinking about what I might miss from home that I could take with me to Korea. No matter where expats live there is something they miss. During my previous contract in Korea, I had developed a deep and unexpected craving for peanut butter cups. So many American products had become available in Korea, but at that time peanut butter cups weren’t. I was chatting with Tim on social media and happened to mention that I was bringing some back with me. I asked him if he wanted some as well. He did, of course, so we met for coffee and the transfer of guilty pleasures after I returned to Korea.
A few months later his university had an open position for a language teacher and Tim thought of me and got in touch to let me know and encouraged me to apply. I did apply, got an interview as a result of his advocacy on my behalf, and have been working here quite happily for the last 3 years.
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