In This Episode of School of Talk
This episode features Adrienne Waller.
Adrienne is the founder of Worldwide Educator and has been in education for 15 years in the US, Qatar, and China.
Adrienne holds multiple certifications in leadership, administration, teaching, as well as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Adrienne’s company, Worldwide Educator, is an education consulting company focused on empowering educators to own their instructional genius while activating students.
She is committed to racial equality, social justice, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice work both in the United States and globally. Whether helping to develop powerful DEI statements or facilitating conversations, she seeks to empower others to create safe spaces.
Adrienne and I chat about her experiences living and teaching abroad and she gives practical advice to others who are looking to experience teaching overseas.
Navigating Your International Education Career Path
- What inspired Adrienne to teach abroad and how she landed her first international teaching job.
- How to select the perfect teaching destination for you.
- What to consider when seeking a destination to teach abroad.
- What to consider when applying to schools overseas.
- What questions teachers should ask hiring principals when interviewing and researching their destination.
- How to stand out in a competitive international education market.
- How and why you should build a network before you land.
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Episode 10 Transcript:
Intro: You’re listening to School of Talk. We’re creating a world where every child experiences the power of a great teacher. We believe education is the answer. It has the power to conduct change, improve lives, unlock ideas, create opportunities, and build connections.
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Class is in session!
Today’s episode is brought to you by Teach Away.
Teach Away offers a full suite of services to schools, aspiring and current teachers from helping travel lovers get certified to teach abroad to offering international recruitment solutions for schools to providing world-renowned professional development courses.
Teach Away is here to create a world where every student experiences the power of a great teacher.
Today’s episode features Adrienne Waller. Adrienne is the founder of Worldwide Educator and has been in education for 15 years in the US, Qatar, and China.
Adrienne holds multiple certifications in leadership administration, teaching, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Adrienne’s company Worldwide Educator is an education consulting company focused on empowering educators to own their instructional genius.
While activating students, she is committed to racial equality, social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work, both in the US and globally.
Adrienne and I chat about her experiences living and teaching abroad.
And she gives practical advice to others who are looking to experience teaching overseas as well.
What inspired Adrienne to teach abroad and how she landed her first international teaching job
Adrienne, thank you so much, again, for being here. I’m super excited to have you and to talk to you today. I would love to just start off with a little bit about yourself. And you know how you got into teaching.
Adrienne Waller: So for context, at a very young age, my mom took me to live abroad.
So at five, we moved to Germany.
And when we came back, I actually was kind of behind and so I struggle kind of a little bit in school in elementary school.
But always thought I could help people. You know, I struggled with reading and so but math I really saw that I kind of dive into, and I was always trying to teach and help.
I was hearing [friends] talk about these teachers who went to other places to teach… I thought, Wait, that’s a thing?!
At as early as I can remember, I was always helping in teaching.
And then I got to high school. And a lot of people were like, I guess I’ve gotten over my struggles, and they’re like, ‘You’re too smart to become a teacher, you should do something else.’
And I was like, ‘Okay, sure.’
So in my mind, there were two things that were important to life: education, and health.
So I said, let’s try this health thing. So did all these things and health. And by the time I graduated from college, I was like, eh… I don’t I don’t know about this one.
So I did AmeriCorps. And I was in their education section because they have different kinds of areas of focus. So I was in education, I was like, Hey, you always loved education.
The whole time I was in college, I was volunteering, writing letters to kids, working in the children’s hospital. Children were always really near and dear to me.
So so why don’t you explore the other thing you’ve always been passionate about? Just see where it goes. So that’s what I did with AmeriCorps.
I worked at a nonprofit where we supported both educators and parents and did a lot of parental involvement, as well as I helped run a program called literacy through photography.
And as I helped the teachers with this program, I just was, I knew in my soul that I had been running away from teaching and I needed to just kind of do a u-turn and come back.
And so in that u-turn, I decided to apply to some of the teaching fellows programs. And I ended up getting into Chicago Teaching Fellows, moved to Chicago, and started my teaching career.
Michelle: Sounds like you kind of had a lifelong yearning to be a teacher, but you tried some other things in the middle. And it sounds like we’re very lucky to have you back in the teaching world. And are you teaching right now?
Adrienne: So I’m an assistant principal now. So yes, because I feel like educating. Yes, I’m still educating. I work a lot with my teachers. And so I’m still in education. I’m not in the classroom per se.
How to select the perfect teaching destination for you
Michelle: And where are you at a principal – state, country, etc.
Adrienne: I’m in the Cayman Islands.
Michelle: Wow, that sounds lovely. How long have you been there?
Adrienne: I just got here in August. So and it is lovely.
Michelle: How did you get into teaching abroad?
Adrienne: So this is a kind of funny story. So essentially, when I was in after my father passed, I moved back home to Detroit and worked at a charter school.
And probably had I’d not done that I probably still would be just in the US doing the same thing. But when I was there, I was a team lead. And we had this like dinner that they did around like, you know, December time.
And I remember being at the dinner my second year at the school. And the table was really long. So pictures long table, two ends, basically, because it was so long conversations in the conversation I was at. I could hear part of the other conversation.
I was hearing them talk about these teachers who went to other places to teach. I was like, Wait, that’s a thing?! Like, you can leave America and go teach somewhere. Hmm. And so I think I kind of casually dropped the question like, Have you all heard about that? And then the woman to my left or right goes, Yeah, I did that. That was like, wait, what she’s like, Yeah, I lived in Guatemala, I met my husband, we got married, we moved to the UAE.
I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, you know, like, she’s like, Yeah, it’s really awesome. And then I, at this point, I’m toggling between two conversations, because I’m just really excited about this idea.
Mind you, because when I was a kid, I lived abroad, and we traveled some. And my family, although I’m from Michigan, my mom’s not from Michigan, my dad wasn’t from Michigan. So we spent a lot of time traveling.
Part of why you become an international teacher is not just to go to the place where you’re teaching, but to see other places around the world, and to have access to travel in a way I’d never had.
So I think I always kind of had it flowing in my veins, or at least since I was really young, to kind of like be mobile and travel. So this idea was really interesting. And then I’m hearing the other end of the table talking about and I’m here.
And so I set up some time to talk to the lady who had, you know, moved to Guatemala, just to hear like, what is it about? How did she get into it?
And she talked to me about Teach Away.
And a month later, I had created a profile. And I was like, Yeah, I’m moving. And all my friends and family like what that was like, I don’t know, where I haven’t gotten a job.
But this is it. I’m getting out of this country!
And you know, lo and behold, by you know, later that summer, I was leaving.
Michelle: Wow. And where was your first destination?
What to consider when seeking a destination to teach abroad
Adrienne: Qatar. And I loved it.
Michelle: How long did you teach there?
Adrienne: I was there for 3 years. My first year, I was still in the classroom. And then after that I moved out of the classroom. So I’ve been out of the classroom since then.
Michelle: And have you continued teaching abroad since then? Or have you had a stint back home in the US? Or has it been abroad?
Adrienne: I had this weird stint, you know- COVID kind of shook everything up. So I had just moved to China in 2019. And will start an admin position, I was super excited. And then I went on holiday because it was Chinese New Year.
Part of why you become an international teacher is not just to go to the place where you’re teaching, but to see the other places around the world and to have access to travel in a way I’d never had when I was, you know, in the United States.
While on that trip, a thing called COVID happened.
And I ended up getting trapped out of China ended up losing my job ended up coming back home for an extended period of time, took another job abroad that didn’t work out so well.
So I came back home again, I was not going back to school.
So COVID just kind of upended a lot of things.
But it was a good reset for me about like, what I wanted, what my priorities were like, I went back to school, I did a lot of self-development in that time.
How do we make learning engaging and exciting, and impactful for our students, that feels and looks different, even if the structure itself feels very much the same?
Michelle: Right. Wow, that’s so interesting. It sounds like for the most part, you’ve had good experiences teaching abroad. But of course, COVID can and did shake up a lot of things for a lot of people. But I’m glad that you know, you’re in a place now that you’re enjoying how comparable would you say teaching in the US where you were we had started versus teaching abroad? Would you say like the job the role is similar? Or is it just a totally different world?
Adrienne: So I think the foundation of them are really similar, both to you know, both being good, and you know, some areas where you’re like, oh, yeah, I could do some things different.
I do think that like Western countries become the basis or like the kind of status quo for what education looks like in international schools outside of like those countries.
So I feel like the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand kind of set the tone for what education looks like in international schools. So a lot of it is really similar.
So I would say the structure is really similar things that I felt like were really different, particularly in elementary school, and like I had a lot more planning periods when I’d been abroad- I had a lot more time to really be reflective about my practice and like what I was doing and how I was doing it, that was a key difference.
A lot of the time, not all the time, my day was shorter.
What to consider when applying to schools overseas
Adrienne: Another thing is they build in an amount of time that you’re required to be at school without students. And I thought that was really good. That was a difference in the US, like, you were always trying to squeeze or I was always trying to squeeze meeting with teams doing all these different meetings in the day.
And so you know, I’m scarfing down my lunch while I’m making copies and doing all of these things where, because there is a portion of time that’s dedicated to planning periods that overlap with your colleagues, I didn’t feel as stressed about the time to meet with other people. I really value collaboration, I really value working with other people and learning from them.
And so having that time to actually do it with fidelity has been really, really helpful to me. There’s also some positions you don’t necessarily see like pastoral care. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like that.
While on that trip, a thing called COVID happened.
Adrienne: There’s other positions that are kind of unique in the international world because I think sometimes you’re merging different countries.
So although I’d name my 5 countries, you could see things that you haven’t seen, or you’ll see, it may be an American school, but they do certain things like British schools typically do, or Australian schools.
And so I think to some degree, there’s this beauty of incorporating so many different countries, cultures, and pedagogies about education, into a shared space. And so it can be different.
You learn a lot from colleagues in ways you wouldn’t think about education. Just because this person grew up in one place, they might have taught somewhere else, and that was with you in a third location. So they can offer a very unique perspective that otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten.
And I’m not saying all schools in the US are the same. But there is some sameness and similarities about what teaching and learning looks like in the US. And some similarities and differences in other countries.
And so being able to, like have a king in and you know, some Qatari, and you know, all these different people in one school kind of discussing and thinking about, like, how do we make learning, engaging and exciting and impactful for our students that does feel and look different, even if the structure itself feels very much the same?
And what’s the worst that can happen? People always ask me, ‘Well, what if I don’t like it?’
Michelle: That is so interesting, you know, from the way you’ve just described that it sounds like anyone who is a teacher in the US or in North America, I should say, like, would actually really benefit from even a little stint abroad, experiencing it for a year or two, just to get that insight into how things are done in a different place and bring that back home and share that with their colleagues.
Adrienne: I tell people all the time to do a two-year contract. Leave and come back!
You know, like the woman who was talking to me about this, when I first was interested, she told me she’s like, ‘Adrienne, even if you don’t stick it out, even if it’s not for you, she said, you’re gonna grow and learn so much in that space.’
One, you’re leaving your home, right? You’re leaving what you’re used to, and burn yourself into something different. It’s going to push you and grow you even just from like a human place. Like I tell everybody, I’m a better human for having gone abroad.
And so I couldn’t agree more that like, consider it, think about it, you know, do it, take a leap.
And what’s the worst that can happen? People always ask me, ‘Well, what if I don’t like it?’
I said, that same plane that took you there? You know, there’s a plane going back. You can go back. Like nobody’s holding you hostage, you can leave! I’m not encouraging people to do that.
But I think we get crippled by this fear of like, what could happen is like if you know, like, there is an exit, like just have an exit plan. You know, and I think anybody should have that prepared when you’re moving somewhere because tides can turn really quickly.
So I do think you should have a plan of like, being able to exit. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t end up falling in love and never using it.
What questions teachers should ask hiring principals when interviewing and researching their destination
Michelle: I love that. And you know what that actually leads me into what I want to ask you about next, which is please correct me if I get this wrong, but it’s my understanding that you mentor and support teachers who are looking to travel abroad. So can you tell me a little bit about that?
Adrienne: Yes. So when I went abroad, I got, I had no help. Like, it was just like, figure it out, sign up, do it. And in most of my journey, I haven’t had help as I like moved out of the classroom as I moved from different countries.
I’ve had the gamut. I had really, really great schools, I’ve had okay schools, and I have had some schools that were like…[not so great] all abroad and in that, I’ve learned a lot.
As people kept talking to me, I just started to realize how much knowledge I really had and how much that was helpful to other people.
So whether that’s sitting with people and reviewing contracts until I’ve given them about what they should be looking for in their contract, what your contract could signal about the school, because you can learn a lot about the school, both in the interview process, but also in the contract that’s offered to you. And then how they deal with if you ask for more time, you know, an extension of time, things like that, like that whole process.
I realized, like, I’m quite good at interviewing, and because now I recruit teachers as well.
And I’ve been doing that a lot of my time abroad. So I’ve been on the other side of, you know, an in-person fear, I’ve been on the other side of a Zoom call, an in-person interview. I can really help people in thinking:
- How do you craft your resume in a way that’s going to show how amazing and awesome you are?
- Do you build a portfolio? And what do you put in that portfolio so that it shows your value in what you add to the organization?
- How do you prepare for an interview? And how am I to prepare for an interview at one school differently than an interview? At another school?
- You have a contract, what should you be looking for? What should you be looking at?
- And now you’ve said yes, what do you need to be doing?
- What paperwork should you be working on? Are there other agencies that can help you?
- And now like, you’re getting close, everything’s done, your paperwork, you’re getting ready to land: How do you start forming community before you get there?
- How do you integrate into your new home, both the place the country, as well as the school? Because when you are thinking about applying and setting up your profile and interviewing at schools, you should be thinking about a pairing between finding a country that fits you, or a city in that country, because countries can be really big.
So find a location that fits you, along with a school that fits you. And maybe you won’t love both, but you better love one and you should have the bare minimum from the other. And that could be the school or that could be the location. Some people their school is okay. But they love that city. And there’s so much there for them.
And then some people is the reverse the school is amazing, like not just the location school.
And then some people get the beauty of loving both. And that’s like the rarity. But whenever I’ve worked with clients, whether they were friends or just people I’ve met, if you don’t have a bare minimum for both, you’re going to leave, you’re going to be unhappy, it’s not going to be a place to stay.
So I think that’s really important to really sit and think about. And so I just wanted to be able to be of service to other people throughout the whole thing from beginning to end, thinking about what recruiting agency makes sense for them.
But all of these different pieces really add up to creating an experience for yourself.
Michelle: When you want to pick a destination it’s got to be a mixture of the school and the location. So that’s amazing advice. That’s a great takeaway.
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Find out where teaching can take you!
How to stand out in a competitive international education market
Michelle: How would a candidate stand out in a competitive market?
Adrienne: Well, I think that the biggest thing people don’t do is like, make sure they’re showing themselves, like really leaning into being authentic, particularly when you’re thinking about going abroad.
Like you should be your true self as much as possible. Because when you get there, you’re probably really alone. And so if you’ve shown up as somebody different, did they hire you know, this kind of like ideal candidate and you get there, you’re likely going to end up being unhappy.
So I really center in on:
Ask yourself these questions before you choose your school
- Who you are, what’s important to you, what do you value?
- When you’re thinking about the school, what are things that you value in a school like what kind of educator are you? Are you one who wants to do project-based learning or would you rather have a curriculum handed to you?
- Do you want to have a lot of choice?
- Do you have IB experience, or do you want to move into doing IB? Or do you want to stretch yourself and say, Hey, I’m from the US and I want to go teach at a Canadian or a British school to have that experience?
- What are you willing to do? Where are you willing to stretch? And where do you really want to be?
- How important is it to have an onboarding process and to have a mentor and things like that? Those are all things you should be thinking about in like the school space.
- What kind of community have they built into? Do you want to be in that community?
- What is their proportion of types of educators that they hire?
- Are you a single? And do they hire mainly couples? How are you going to feel if you’re at a school, that’s overloaded with couples, and can’t build a community there? But maybe, building a community at your school is only somewhat important to you. But maybe location with a lot of community is important because you plan on leaning into that instead of the school.
- So you just need the basics taken care of knowing like your supplies, but maybe you don’t care about how well resourced the school is, maybe you’re okay with a school that doesn’t have a lot of resources.
- The other thing in terms of the school I would think about is, do you want to be at a school that has a long tradition, established policies, and things like that, that you can just roll into? Or do you want to be at a younger school that’s really wanting to be innovative and try new things, and you want to be a change agent there. Those are very different places.
Being able to, like, ask very good questions during your interview, read their website in a way that’s gonna help you figure that out, and reach out to people who can help you find that information is so important.
And that’s just for the school!
Ask yourself these questions before you move to a new country
Now we start thinking about the country:
- Do you want to be in a country where there’s limited internet? Where there are restrictions on the internet? Does that matter to you? Are you okay with that?
- Do you want to be somewhere that has affinity groups? So what I mean by that, I’m a Black American. Do I want to be somewhere where there’s a good number of Black Americans that I can kind of vibe with? Or is that not really that important to me?
- Do I want to be somewhere where there are people with similar interests? Like here in Cayman, a lot of people are really into snorkeling and scuba diving. So that may be a community that you form is here, but you don’t get that community everywhere? In Qatar, there were people scuba diving, but the community was not nearly as large as what you have here.
- Do you want to be in a country where you can easily get products that you’re used to?
- Do you want to be able to go to the grocery store and find things that you’re used to?
- Are you okay with trying something new and having foods that you’re not used to? And maybe there’s no restaurants or shopping that you’re used to like, is that, okay?
- Do you want to be in a place where you can easily get to specific other countries, where it’s easy to get out of the country? Right now, China’s really hard to get in and out of, maybe that’s not where you want to go right now. Or, maybe you do because you’re not really trying to travel, and you’re really trying to save money. China has the most competitive packages that are out there.
- What do I want out of this experience? Am I going to travel? Am I going to have like, an easy, you know, easy, breezy life, like I don’t want the stress of what I was doing before? Are you going to like really advance your career?
And all of that will then also impact the type of school that you decide to select in that location. You decide. It’s a pairing of all of that information together, which is a lot, I said a lot!
You know, like pairing all of that together and having something, that’s why I love doing this is because like, I can hear a few things and start to put together an idea of like, oh, have you considered here? What about this area?
Certain countries and regions lend to certain types of lifestyles and interests and things like that.
How and why you should build a network before you land
Michelle: That is amazing. Like, as you were listing all of those things, it’s like a like you need this like checklist of all the things that you value in a lot of it, it sounds like it’s about really knowing yourself and being able to comfortably advocate for what you’re looking for in a lifestyle, in the culture in the community, all of those things.
Because when you’re applying to a job, you have to remember that it’s a two-way street, you have to want to be there as much as they want you to be there.
So that’s really amazing advice. It sounds like you have a lot to share with people and a lot that you can help with. I know you mentioned about building a network before you land.
How and why should candidates do that?
Making adult friendships abroad is almost easier than where you’re from because I feel like where you’re from, people have made their friends.
Adrienne: I’ll start with why. It just makes that transition so much easier.
One of the easiest ways to end up leaving is to not feel like you belong and to not understand what you’re getting yourself into, to not feel like you can navigate and you feel a little helpless when you first move to a new country if I’m honest, just because you’re kind of like a fish out of water.
You don’t even know what the grocery store is called, let alone how to get to it!
You know, what transportation can you use to get to it?
So building a community ahead of time, can knock a lot of that down, or when you first get there, make it your learning curve like you can go through that learning curve a lot faster.
So that’s the reason why I think you should do it.
How you do, it really depends, there’s a lot of different ways to go about it. And it goes back to knowing yourself.
If you’re thinking about really building a strong community at your school, there’s a few different ways you can go about that, whether it’s asking the school to connect you with people before you get there, whether it’s by ‘stalking’ people in figuring out who’s there, you know, not stalking! But like, you know, using the social media tools that are there to, you know, make connections.
There’s also InterNations. You can join there and say, this is a country I’m going to, and connect with people. They figure out what events they have both online and in-person meetups, and join some of the Meetups that may be in that country, if they use Meetup, or Eventbrite.
I really always tell people to get on Facebook. You know, Facebook is, it is an amazing resource, like, I mean, I know it has all of this other stuff. And you know, it’s this conglomerate of Meta, blah, blah, blah. But it really boils down to like a lot of the information there is high quality, because it’s coming from people who are actually on the ground, who are there now.
Yes, I think watching a blog or a vlog, and all of that reading, you know, all of that is really helpful. But know that anything you’re reading and consuming, is just as valuable as it was at that time. That’s why it’s really important to connect with people who are on the ground, right, and who also have a shared experience.
Like, if you have, if you’re a single mom with kids, you should talk to single moms with kids, because their experience is different than mine.
Michelle: So right, they can give you more insight into what your experience might be like, if that’s really great.
Did you find that when you were traveling, were you able to connect with the staff at the school very easily? Or did you find outside types of clubs and things like that, to make friends and kind of like a family abroad?
Adrienne: I did a little bit of both. In Qatar, I had some friends at work, but I really had I had like these groups. And this is why I loved it so much in Qatar, like, I had all these different like groups I had, like, I worked at one point, my job had me working across 5 different schools. So because of that, I also had like, right there 5 different groups of friends, like, you know, because different schools had their own kind of feel. So I had that.
Then I had a group of friends that I had met through this group called Brothers and Sisters of Qatar, so a lot is people of the Black diaspora from all types of places, and did all types of things.
And then within that I had like, one group that I had met and hung out with. And then another group that I met and hung out with, and then like another group, so like one that I met when I went on a camel tour, another that I met when I went on a boat ride, and other than I met at a movie night.
And so like I had all of those different groups, and then that allowed me to kind of like just check and do different things. And people would say, ‘Oh, I’m doing this…’ and like, I ended up learning how to swim out there with a group of girls that I met through my school.
But I also became really close friends with, you know, a guy who worked on the Air Force Base, and he’s still there, you know, preparing planes.
So like, I had all these different types of friends.
In China, kind of similar. I had, we had like a Black Girl Magic WeChat group, which is really great within my school. And then I ended up joining one that was like a Black Girl Magic China. So that was really cool. And so one thing I appreciated about China is there were all these different groups on WeChat that I could kind of join.
And so I had gotten to some brunch group. And so like I had a set of friends that I met through the brunch group, and then had another set of friends that I met through the, you know, melanated something I don’t really remember.
And then I had the girls at school and so I kind of kept having these different pockets of friends.
When I lived in Kuwait. It was drastically different. I basically only really had friends from the school. I moved there during COVID. It’s not a lot to do. It was a bit tough. But we made the best out of it. Like you know, we would have game nights and things like that.
And from them I met a few people but I didn’t really form a friendship really with anybody who was really outside of the school. And it’s kind of similar here in Cayman right now, all my friends are really connected to the school.
I’m looking to join like a football league out here, like a flag football league. And so that’ll give me some outside of work friends.
Michelle: That’s great because I’ve talked to a few people who are traveling teachers and from the sounds of it, it sounds like other teachers who are traveling abroad, a) are also looking for community as they’re abroad.
And if you’re willing to kind of put yourself out there, people are very welcoming, very inviting, and you can, you know, find a group.
I know being a teacher, usually teaching communities are very tight knit, and you spend a lot of time together and you can make some really close friendships. So that’s wonderful to hear that you’ve had a good experience.
Adrienne: I actually think maybe making adult friendships abroad is almost easier than like where you’re from, because I feel like where you’re from, people have made their friends. So like, if you move somewhere new, they kind of they have what they’re used to where when you move abroad, everybody knows the struggle of what it means to move abroad and what you sacrifice and how, ‘ooh, I don’t know anything’ like that deer in headlights, they all know and can relate, and really want to kind of nurture and help you to be as successful as possible.
So to some degree, I feel like I think it’s easier, which is why so many people warn people who live abroad for an extended period of time about reverse culture shock, and about what happens when you go back home, and you’ve gotten used to this lifestyle. So I actually think if you’re worried about friends and things like that, that’s actually really low. And I think it’s actually going to be much easier than probably your fear is telling you it’s going to be.
Michelle: That’s good to know.
What would you say is the hardest part about being a traveling teacher?
Adrienne: I think the hardest part is that your loved ones back home don’t always understand. And connecting with them can be difficult. So they don’t necessarily understand the time difference.
They don’t understand what it means to be away from people, they don’t understand, like the transition. And that can be really hard. And a lot of ex-pats or traveling teachers and whatever nomads really have a hard time maintaining some of the like, previous relationships. I don’t think it’s impossible.
That’s another thing I help people out with. Like, you have to be intentional about that. Right?
You have to like, really think about like, how do I want to nurture these relationships? And what do I want to share? And what don’t I want to share, like what you share with your friends, back home, and what you share with your friends where you are may not be the same because they understand and relate to you differently. And I think when you try to make them the same, you can struggle which is why it’s really important to start building a network in your new home, because those people will also relate to the homesickness you’re feeling.
Where, some people if you tell them you’re homesick, they’ll just say, ‘Well, why are you there come home,’ and it’s like, well, I’m still gonna get homesick.
It doesn’t mean that the best decision is to leave it with the people you’re talking about who love and care about you.
And that’s the thing you have to remember is that people back home love and care about you. If they see you sad and upset, they’re more going to be they want to see you thrive. And so if they don’t feel like you’re thriving, they’re going to be concerned and want to see it. So I think that’s one of the hardest things is kind of navigating a new life, while maintaining this other life that still really, for me is super important.
My friends and my family back home, are vitally important. I go home every summer, because of how important they are to me.
I have friends who in May every year start sending me messages. You buy your ticket yet? When are you coming home? When are we doing lunch? Like, I have friends who are invested in me that way! And then I have people that are like, hey, I got my ticket! Are we doing this?
My birthday is in the summer. So every summer I do something kind of big and adventurous that I make my friends do. Whether it’s like axe throwing or you know, I just do kind of weird, all my friends are like only you, Adrienne…!
Like this year, we put these like bubble things on and did like human soccer. So that’s the other thing they’re asking, Okay, what’s going on, what crazy thing you have been doing for your birthday this year. And that’s like how I keep that connection in that community with the people back home.
Final thoughts on how to navigate your career in international education?
Michelle: Yeah, I can totally see how that would be sort of hard to juggle because the people back home, know so little about your real experience that you’re living but it’s so important to you and pertinent at the time and trying to kind of balance the two. And you anything that you’d like to leave us with today.
Adrienne: I mean, somewhat I talked about it already I really spent a lot of time knowing self and being really confident and secure and celebrating who you are, and know that there will be a school out there for you.
Don’t feel like you can’t find the school and don’t think you have to adjust who you are.
We can always grow and improve, but like the core of who you are is what’s important.
There are so many schools out there. There are thousands, literally thousands of international schools. Don’t give up. Just stay firm in who you are, and use that to really be your North Star.
And if it doesn’t feel right, I will say follow that. When I didn’t follow my gut I was like, oh… maybe not. I look back and I was like, Yeah, I knew.
I think your intuition is a more powerful thing than you generally give yourself credit for. So trust who you are, and trust what your intuition is telling you about your experience and what you’re walking into.
How to connect with Adrienne
Michelle: That’s fantastic. Adrienne, thank you so much. Where can our audience connect with you if they’d like to learn more?
Adrienne: So right now, my website is under construction, but there are some links and information is there which is worldwideeducator.org.
The best place to get me is Instagram, which is worldwide educator, one word, there’s tons of content there for people.
So if you’re like, Hey, I’m not ready to invest in services, there’s a lot of information that you can find right there.
I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn, Worldwide Educator with an 8 is the Twitter one. And LinkedIn is my main page or A Waller. So any of those or email me that’s also a great way info at worldwide educator.org.
Michelle: Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing today.
Adrienne: Thank you for having me.
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Class is dismissed!