Tech students seek new horizons teaching overseas

Jul 30, 2012 | General News

Louisiana Tech serves as a stepping-stone for many students who desire to expand their worldview and receive experience living overseas.
Tech alumni and students said their educational and social experiences at Tech prepared them for teaching in another country.
Heather Castille, a 2011 graduate who has taught in Korea for nine months, said tutoring helped her with her future endeavors.
“I worked at the Writing Center for three years and that has helped me more than anything,” she said. “I got a lot of experience in teaching the language and the basic mechanics. Other than work experience, being on campus at Tech helped me to meet international students quite easily and learn to appreciate their cultures, which has definitely helped prepare me to live abroad.”
She said she has learned that the culture of teaching differs from country to country.
“One thing teachers at my company are told in training is to realize you have to accept the limitations of the job,” Castille said. “The business culture isn’t familiar with having employees trying to make changes they think are best – as employees in the States can do in most jobs. That was an adjustment for me.”
However, Castille said she enjoys her work and, if she returns to teach in the U.S., would look for a position teaching English as a second language.
“Living in Korea is very easy,” she said. “Koreans are generally friendly and helpful, the food is wonderful, the land is beautiful, and there is so much to do in a very concentrated area. Korea provides so much opportunity for making new relationships. These reasons and more are why most foreign teachers stay well over their first year’s contract.”
Ty Cedars, a 2003 alumnus, taught in Japan with the JET Program for three years after his graduation. He said his professor, Dr. Kenneth Robbins, the former head of the School of Performing Arts, was influential into his decision.
“The opportunity was presented by Dr. Robbins,” Cedars said. “I was fascinated by Japanese theater and interested in the culture. The university opened me up to a diversity of opinions and interesting people. Naturally, it was a good stepping-stone to living in a vastly different culture.”
He said his greatest benefit in teaching abroad was the experience he received. He said teaching abroad was challenging, but that challenge allowed him to be a more effective educator.
“I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot that I can still use in my life back in Louisiana,” Cedars said.
Daniel Moore, a 2007 graduate, has taught in China for three years and said family experience and his own overseas trip with the Tech-London program influenced his decision to teach in China.
“Teaching in China came about by my sister teaching in Japan,” Moore said. “She loved teaching in another country so I wanted to give it a try.”
Moore said learning Chinese has been his biggest challenge, but he has enjoyed the travel and meeting new people.
“Tech (prepared me) for teaching abroad,” he said. “I did the Tech London trip, and it was a good experience for traveling.”
Jared Martindale is enrolled in Tech’s e-graduate certificate program in technical writing and teaches in Qatar. He has also taught in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In total, he has taught abroad 18 years.
“In 2006, I was offered a job in Qatar with a post high-school, pre-university foundations program with small classes, co-educational environment — unusual in the Gulf — good salary and benefits, plenty of vacation time, and the opportunity to see Qatar develop extremely rapidly,” Martindale said. He said he felt the greatest benefit in teaching overseas was the opportunity to familiarize oneself with different cultures.
For those interested in teaching overseas, the Castille, Cedars, Moore and Martindale suggest the following websites: