Teaching Traveling: Welcome to the very accomplished Cameron Conaway, Social Justice Editor at The Good Men Project and award-winning author of “Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet.”
Conaway was the 2011-2012 Poet-in-Residence at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Thailand and the 2007-2009 Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona’s MFA Creative Writing Program. His work has appeared or been reviewed in ESPN, The Huffington Post, and Teach Magazine, among others.
Cameron, tell us about your background!
Cameron: My name is Cameron Conaway and I’m a 27-year-old originally from Altoona, Pennsylvania. I’ve been a teacher for five years now. My first two years of teaching took place while I was a graduate student at the University of Arizona. I was able to teach creative writing in a juvenile detention center, on the Tohono O’odham Native American Reservation, in high schools throughout Tucson and in an undergraduate Honors class. For the past three years, however, I’ve been an online college instructor for several universities, including Ottawa University, where I created and currently teach the Shakespeare Seminar. The courses are considered asynchronous, which means that neither student nor professor needs to be online at the same time. This has enabled me the opportunity to begin traveling the world with my fiancée because I am limited not by physical location but by Wi-Fi connectivity.
TT: Fascinating! Tell us how you have integrated travel with teaching.
C: My flexibility of work schedule has allowed me to pursue my passion for writing about human rights abuses. Take my recent trip to Bangladesh, for example. During the day I was able to visit the notorious shipbreaking yards and visit shelters for trafficked children because I knew my nights could be spent grading student essays at the 24-hour coffee shop with free Wi-Fi. The result was not only many essays and even a forthcoming book of poems, but also a profound life experience – something that will forever shape the way I view consumerism, global health policy and the inner workings of the human spirit. I simply could not have immersed myself in this experience if I was working the typical 9-to-5 job, teaching or otherwise.
TT: Wow! How do you find your travel opportunities and fund your travel?
C: In early 2010, while my fiancée Maggie and I were living in Charlottesville, Virginia, she had an epiphany: her next step to continue developing as a teacher and person was to go live abroad. After much research we decided that Bangkok, Thailand, would serve as a great start to our travels and a great hub to see all of Asia. We hit the road on December 26th 2010, spent six weeks driving from Pennsylvania to California, and eventually sold our car in Los Angeles before flying from LAX to Thailand.