Teaching Traveling: Welcome to Rashaad Jorden, a remarkable man who has taught abroad in Japan and France.
Tell us about yourself, Rashaad.
Rashaad: I was actually born in Yokosuka, Japan (My dad was in the U.S. Navy), but I grew up in New Jersey.
After graduating from college with a degree in English/Media Arts, I returned to Japan to teach English at a private language school (which is really a big business) in Yokohama.
I left Yokohama a bit earlier than I wanted, but I knew I wanted to work in Japan again.
However, I didn’t initially get the position I wanted so instead, I went to France to work as an English assistant at a high school in Normandy. I enjoyed my seven months (the length of my contract) so much that I decided to do another seven months in France.
My second seven month stay was in a small town in France named Eu, pretty much on the English Channel. I didn’t enjoy my time in Eu as much as I had enjoyed my time in Rouen, but I’m glad I did another seven month stay in France. After France, I returned to Japan as a member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. I lived in Tsuruoka, a city in Yamagata Prefecture.
TT: Amazing! Tell us more about your travels and teaching!
R: During my second stint working in Japan, I completed the Tokyo Marathon in 3:28.16. It was my proudest accomplishment in Japan. I was a part of running clubs in Japan and France, and I participated in several races. But completing the Tokyo Marathon is what I’m proudest of.
Right now, I’m looking for work (I’m open to hearing from anyone who may be of assistance in the job hunt), and also dreaming of my next adventure.
For several hours a week, I provide online English lessons for Japanese adults via Skype.
TT: With your experience, any school would be lucky to have you!
How did you find your Japan and France teaching positions?
R: I actually first learned about the opportunity to teach English in Japan from online research. I was looking at things I could do after graduation, and I was pleasantly surprised I only needed to graduate from college to teach at many private language schools in Asia.
My mom actually told me about to opportunity to work as an assistant English teacher in France. The French government runs a program in which many young people from English-speaking countries work as assistants in public schools in France. Despite the fact I had visited France before and spoke some of the language, I never thought I would be working at a school in France.
Actually, going to France was my backup plan and I only did that because I wasn’t accepted in the JET Program (I did get into the JET Program a couple of years later). I thoroughly enjoyed my time in France.
As for the JET Program, I learned about it via a magazine article about three or four years before I first applied for it.
TT: You show an important point that just because you don’t get into a program one year, you may well get it if you apply again! Now, tell us a moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
R: During my second trip to Thailand, when I was on a ferry to Ko Samet, I noticed a youngish dude looking (but not staring) at me. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I started a conversation. As it turns out, I learned that Pop was born exactly five days before I was and like me, was a fan of both English soccer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Pop was traveling with several family members, but he invited me to stay with him and family members. I did, and we actually partied into the night.
Pop and his family only stayed one night on Ko Samet, but I have kept in touch with him throughout the years. I saw Pop during my last visit to Thailand (about two years ago), and he actually invited me to his wedding last year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it.
TT: Love that story! How have your travels impacted you as a teacher?
R: My travels gave some material for my lessons, more so in conversation classes with adults. If I went on vacation or traveled somewhere interesting, I could always talk about that. The adults in my conversation class were also happy to see photos from where I traveled to.
Also while working at my main junior high school in Yamagata Prefecture, if I traveled somewhere interesting, one teacher I worked with would have me talk about it to the class. And then, he would ask the students questions from what I said.
TT: How has travel changed you as a person?
R: My travels have made me love cities more (although I did enjoy living in the Japanese countryside and wouldn’t be opposed to living in such a locale again, despite the fact that I hated having to spend money on a car).
I also grew to love trains more. I miss the trains in Japan and France.
Also, from my travels, I learned to become more spontaneous because a lot of fun moments came from spontaneity.
So, what advice do you have for other teachers who long to travel, or travelers who dream of teaching?
R: As for advice I’d give… just follow your dreams.
Also, try to learn as much about any destination you’ll be working in.
TT: Thanks so much, Rashaad!
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