Guest Blog by Nica Basuel
At the start of my job search this winter, I encountered a conflict. I felt I had to compromise my passion for travel with my passion for teaching. After some research, I found that most teaching abroad opportunities involved traditional schools with more privileged students. However, I’ve always imagined myself teaching in a challenging school filled with students with labels (like “at risk,” “special needs,” or “low SES”), guiding them to fight against those difficult labels and become successful through education.
I completed my student teaching semester in a nontraditional school for students who are “at risk” (whatever the label means is still up for debate in my mind) and truly felt that it was a setting in which I thrived, learned, and loved.
However, my professors helped me understand that each school has its own challenges and can serve as a valuable learning experience. I was also convinced that the time to explore international teaching would be when I was fresh out of college, before other life obligations interfered. Also, I figured I could use a broader worldview to shape my philosophy of teaching fully.
In February I traveled to Boston for an international school job fair. It was a chaotic weekend involving roughly 80 schools from every region in the world. Each school had a unique personality and sitting through all the presentations I found myself imagining myself in South America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. I ended up doing nine interviews in less than 48 hours.
One school, Liger Learning Center of Cambodia, wildly stood out from the other international schools. Liger is a school with a mission to give disadvantaged Cambodian children a high-quality, progressive, and free education. The school aims to serve students from kindergarten to high school and give scholarships for students to attend prestigious universities anywhere in the world.
Also, Liger hopes to address the needs of the whole child while encouraging children to become the future leaders of Cambodia. The director of the school outlined its core values of integrity, stewardship, optimism, ingenuity, and determination. During the presentation, I felt goosebumps, and it was the only presentation that gave me such a strong psychosomatic reaction. I was eager to be part of a movement that hopes to instill these values in youth.
Furthermore, I learned that this is a completely new endeavor—the campus where students and teachers will live and learn together is only a few months old, and the director and his staff are still in the admissions process, traveling around Cambodia to find students who show potential to thrive at Liger. I was grateful to interview with the school. I felt comfortable explaining how the school aligned with my philosophies on education and how I could greatly benefit from an experience at Liger.
I never thought I would find a place like Liger at the international school fair. I had come in with certain expectations about working for an international school primarily as a means for travel. Never had I thought that I would end up at a school that would give me an opportunity both to explore the world and to explore innovative education, especially in a country with a difficult history like Cambodia’s.
I am set to leave in late July, only two months after graduation. Admittedly, I am nervous but eager. I know that my move to Cambodia will be something new and completely unfamiliar, frightening, and exhilarating all at once—as every adventure and travel experience should be. I am ready to take on international teaching, to respect and learn from the paths laid out by others before me, and to make my own tracks.
Learn more about Liger Learning Center.