Teaching Traveling: Whether you’re a retired veteran teacher, or a young and aspiring Teacher-Traveler, get ready to be inspired by the story of a woman named Ruth Sheffer whose travels took off after age 50. Ruth, tell us more about your travels!
Ruth: Ever since I was a child I have had the travel bug. Maybe because my mum was a French teacher and took us every year to France on holiday. Maybe because of the “Wandering Jew” syndrome. Anyway I was born in London, UK and first went to teach abroad at age 19 as part of my BA studies in French and Spanish. I was a foreign assistant in a junior school in France for a year. It was NOT a wonderful experience, but nevertheless I had my first taste of the EFL classroom. I then travelled to Israel to do my Masters in Literature, where I fell in love, married and got “stuck” as a high school teacher for the next 30 years! I fell in love with a man, but also with another culture, with all that it entails: language, music, weather, and being an expat. I have now lived in Israel longer than I lived in my home country.
I taught English to high school students and adults until my retirement in 2011. Over the years my family and I travelled every summer holidays but it was never enough for me. (My husband would always ask me “DO you want to go abroad or do house renovations? You can guess what I answered him!) Today, I do a little online teaching but basically am free to travel anywhere I find a good ESL teaching job or volunteering opportunity.
TT: Wow! Tell us more about your travels.
R: Post retirement, my husband and I traveled to China where we taught English to University students for 3 wonderful years. We were able to make side trips to Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Laos. We then returned home, thinking the travel bug was conquered. But last month we had the amazing opportunity to go to Sri Lanka for a month to teach Buddhist monks, and of course that was something we had to try. It was very exciting and different, despite rather tough physical conditions.
The monks were actually all graduates, and lecturers at the Bhiksu university in Anuradhapura, which is the spiritual centre of Sri Lanka, full of amazing temples and holy places. The monks lecture in ancient languages like Sanskrit and Pali and also in Buddhist history and philosophy. So they were pretty interesting guys. If you are interested in doing this you can contact my friend Paul Ellmes at Give a Fig Volunteering.
TT: How did you find this travel opportunity, and how did you fund it?
R: It was advertised on Dave’s ESL cafe and luckily for me we were accepted to do it. As for funding, the trip was paid for entirely by the Bhiksu University, who also took us on trips to temples and to a Safari Park. At the end of our trip we also went to relax on the beach, and that was also paid for by the monks!