TeachingTraveling.com: Thanks for chatting with us, Connie! Please tell us a bit about your background.
Connie: I’m a soon-to-be 30 year old Asian American who grew up in California but was most recently living and working in NYC. After three years of working in the management consulting field, I quit my job and left to travel the world full-time and do volunteer work along the way.
I knew I wanted to get involved with teaching children again because I had some of the best experiences of my life previously when I worked with children for two years at Space Camp, California and a summer at Space Camp, Turkey in Izmir during 2005.
It’s been two years since I left NYC and in that time I’ve lived in Istanbul for six months teaching private English lessons, traveled across most of Asia and volunteered to teach English to the children of Burmese migrant workers living in Thailand. As I continue to travel, I’m always on the lookout for volunteer opportunities and I’m looking forward to my next project, wherever and whenever that may be!
TT: What a path! What was one particularly powerful moment of your teaching-traveling so far?
Connie: When I was teaching the children of Burmese workers in Thailand, I asked the students how they would improve the school. They unanimously voted that they’d make the class periods LONGER, even if it would cut their lunch shorter.
The whole story is chronicled in this article, “Teaching English: Lesson Learned.”
If you’re asking about something non-teaching related, I’ve got plenty of stories to tell you. =)
TT: How did you find this particular teaching opportunity in Thailand?
Connie: From another blog, actually!
TT: How did you find the money to fund all your travel?
Connie: Once I made my decision to leave NYC, I started saving money to help fund my trip. I took me over a year to save up a comfortable amount to set off with, but I’ve been traveling for almost two years and the money hasn’t run out yet!
TT: Inspiring! Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly beautiful.
Connie: When I was traveling in Peru, I went sand-boarding in Huacachina, a little oasis town in the middle of the desert. We had been sand-boarding for a good hour and a half in the late afternoon when we came upon our last dune. I was too exhausted to hike up another dune so I decided to stay down and just enjoy the desert instead. As everyone else in my group made their way up to the top of the dune, I sat by myself in this perfectly golden desert with practically no one else around, watching the warm sun set to my right while a full moon rose to my left.
There was a certain magical feeling of being caught in that moment and I just remember a poignant feeling of peacefulness and contentment. It made me realize how small we really are in this world, how insignificant. In that instant, I made a vow to treasure each moment in life, not just the ones that people typical consider “important” but ALL moments, all experiences. I know it may sound somewhat cliché, but that really was a powerful and life-changing moment for me.
TT: Truly beautiful. Overall, then, how have your travels impacted you as a person?
Connie: Oh, how has it not! Traveling is by far, one of the best things I have ever decided to do with my life.
Travel has not only allowed me see all the wonders that the world has to offer, but it has opened my eyes up to so much! Through travel, I have been able to experience some incredible things like leatherback turtles nesting and the Aurora Borealis dancing her way across Iceland’s night sky. I’ve made wonderful friends from all over the world, many of whom I still keep in frequent touch with.
Most importantly, traveling has allowed me to challenge myself in ways that have strengthened me as a person, tested my patience, questioned my values and morals, and put life in perspective for me. I’m quite proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished in my life and I can honestly say that travel has been the driving force that has changed and shaped me into the person I am today.
TT: What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel?
Connie: Just go out and do it! So many opportunities exist to travel the world and teach abroad. Not only will it enrich your personal life but it will also help you grow as a teacher. Teaching to students whose first language is not the same as yours forces you to be more creative, interactive and involved with your students. With the new skills you learn from teaching abroad, you can have a more effective classroom back at home. Besides, if you’re dreaming of traveling, why keep dreaming?
TT: Amen, Connie! Thanks so much. Readers, if you want more stories from Connie, check out her blog, Connvoyage.com.* So far, this article has been read by ... fans. Share it around! *