Teaching Traveling: Welcome to Ian, a teacher who has traveled to over 30 countries, and is now on a year-long leave of absence to see more of the world! Ian, tell us about your background.
Ian: My name is Ian Yacobucci but my friends call me Yak. I currently work as a teacher and travel blogger for Borderless Travels. As a teacher I started my career seven years ago when I traveled to Switzerland to teach English at a private summer camp. Since then I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Bachelor of Education. These have allowed me to teach abroad as well as in Canada. Now I’m following my dream of traveling the world and sharing my stories. My passion for exploring has also influenced my job experiences such as being a professional tour guide, and production assistant.
TT: Tell us more about your travels.
I: Teaching has taken me to Switzerland, South Africa, Japan, and South Korea where I’ve taught at the elementary, secondary, and post–secondary levels. Currently, I’ve taken a year leave of absence from my teaching job in order to pursue my dream of traveling around the world. These travels have taken me to over 30 countries where I not only explored new places but also trained in adventure sports such as scuba diving, surfing, and took a mountaineering course with the Indian Ministry of Defense. I’ve traveled across half the world from China to Finland via the Trans-Siberian, Mongolian, and Kazakh railways.
TT: Amazing! How do you find your travel opportunities?
I: Working abroad as a teacher has connected me with people from all walks of life, and many of them have unique lifestyles and careers outside of teaching. It’s through them I’ve been inspired to follow my own path.
It’s hard to leave a comfortable teaching career, but traveling has always been a major part of my life and I made a conscious decision to make it something more permanent. Inspired by other travel bloggers, I’ve decided to share my knowledge and experiences in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
TT: How did you find the money to fund this travel?
I: For this particular experience I used savings from working as a teacher in Ontario and abroad for the last three years. I’ve also been able to work intermittently throughout my travels, starting with a winter camp in South Korea, following it up with a summer camp in Switzerland, and an English teaching position at a University in Tokyo come fall. I may eventually make some advertising money from my blog, but that’s not my primary source of income.
TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
I: There are so many experiences that I could share but one teaching-related experience that really resonated with me was during my placement in Cape Town, South Africa. I should preface this by saying that this experience was shared by other teachers who were working with me, however this was not the norm. It was while teaching in South Africa that I first witnessed corporal punishment in the classroom. Although illegal, my associate teacher used violence and humiliation in order to discipline her students.
For me, watching an illiterate student being humiliated by having to write his answers on the board, as the teacher used defamatory language that was insulted at his intelligence, was difficult to witness. As he cried and tried to explain that he didn’t understand, the entire class watched.
It was here that I saw the negative effects of corporal punishment, and was concurrently encouraged by the progressive nature of the education system in Ontario (my home province). South Africa is currently working with Canadians to develop their education system and I hope that they will be able to achieve a positive student-centered educational environment.
TT: So powerful. How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and in your current career?
I: What I learn through travelling is constantly reflected in my classroom. Not only do I understand the diversity of my classroom better – Canada being a multicultural country with people from around the world – I’m also able to share my experiences and connect with my students. Whether it’s telling stories in an English lesson or showing photos I’ve taken during a geography lesson, I’m able to make real life connections from outside the classroom that give students a more valuable and meaningful learning experience.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a person?
I: Travelling is a major part of my life. It has been one of the most inspiring classrooms I’ve ever been in. From the people I meet to the places I’ve seen, I’m learning something new every day. My experiences abroad have taught me about people, cultures, and given me a vested interest in international issues. Not only do I become more aware of the realities of other peoples’ lives, but I’m also able to relate to them and share their stories with the world through my website and in the classroom with my students.
TT: What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers curious to teach?
I: Stop waiting around trying to convince yourself that you should do it – just go and do it. In reality, the hardest part about teaching abroad is saying yes and making the commitment to go and do something you’ve always wanted to do.
The best advice I can give to someone interested in teaching abroad is to be flexible and adaptable. Although there are more similarities than differences when teaching abroad, you still need to approach it with an open mind. Students’ expectations may be different, the work environment might be longer or organized differently, and your living conditions might not be as comfortable as what you’re used to. But in the end this is what traveling and teaching abroad is all about and in the end you’ll grow as a person.
It is in this environment that you’ll learn about yourself, become part of a new culture, and learn about a new place. Think of it as a learning experience and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. If you’re wondering how to start, just get online, do some research, and email your CV to a few schools. There are dozens of online resources for researching jobs and you can always refer to Borderless Travels or shoot me an email. In the end the best thing to do is to just get out there and do it!
TAG– you’re it!
TT: Thanks so much, Ian! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?