One of the reasons I "retired" from university teaching was the restrictions is put on opportunities like speaking at international conferences, like I wrote about in Volume 12, and getting to do fun things like serve as the MC for international symposiums, like I did this week. Speaking at international conferences is fun (I had a blast last week) but this was paid work and it came about from a contact that might surprise some readers, a former student.
When I started teaching at KAIST in 2008 I had a student in one of my freshman conversation classes that ended up staying at KAIST to do her MA and PhD degrees. We kept in touch over the years through Facebook and would see each other on campus from time to time. In 2015, she came to my English Clinic sessions (a half hour that students could sign up for and get 1-1 sessions with the English professors) and I told her I was planning to leave KAIST and start my own company. She said I should meet her mother who had a high-level position at one of the government research centers in town and could use my services. I (jokingly) told her that she should being her mother to our next Clinic session. She did.
We had a nice chat and I told her about what my new company could offer. She was interested in editing work and private speaking lessons (which she never had time for) and asked if I would be available to serve as the conference host for a symposium she was organizing in Bangkok the following spring. Of course I was. Since then, I hosted another conference for them in Songdo, Korea and this one in Osaka. It's always a lot of fun and I get to meet great people who are leaders in their field. Some of the presenters are even starting to ask for feedback on their presentations once they find out that I am a presentation skills trainer.
I'm very fortunate that I get to combine my love for travel with paid work that is enjoyable and fulfilling. I'm also lucky that a former student had the foresight to see that introducing me to her mother would help me along that path. It's a fun story to tell when people ask how an English teacher ended up serving as the MC for materials science conferences and I hope it demonstrates to the readers of this blog that you never know who will be in a position to help you accomplish your goals.
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