Teaching Traveling: Welcome to Jamilah! Tell us about yourself.
Jamilah: My name is Jamilah Pitts. I am currently teaching English Literature Teacher in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I have been teaching (traditionally) for almost four years. I am from Columbus, Ohio but have lived in Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C, Boston, Massachusetts and now the Dominican Republic!
I have had the absolute privilege to travel to and explore Beijing, China (where I taught for a summer), Amman, Jordan, Cape Town, South Africa, Cuba, Jamaica, Nassau, Bahamas, Europe, and the Dominican Republic.
TT: Wow! Tell us more about your travels!
J: My first overseas teaching opportunity was with teachoverseas.org, a faith-based organization that recruits volunteers at any age to teach in Asia. My particular program took me to Beijing, China for a summer.
This was my first major trip out of the country and while I could not have chosen a more culturally different place and experience, I fell in love with traveling and learning about people during this trip. It still stands out in my mind as one of the most amazing places I have experienced.
Currently, I am teaching in an international school that heavily recruits teachers who are native English speakers and hold teaching licenses and/or degrees. I learned about this particular school through a website that allows school personnel to post information about their school vacancies.
The following organizations do the same: Joyjobs, International School Services (ISS), and Search Associates (all of the organizations include a registration fee).
TT: Great resources. How did you find the money to fund your travel?
J: I had to fundraise for the trip to China and because it was faith-based, I was able to raise funds through other faith-based organizations, sponsors, donations, and my university because I was a student during this time.
Once hired, international schools will often assist or reimburse teachers for moving expenses. I would strongly recommend international schools for teachers who are seeking long-term teaching opportunities abroad. These schools often pay (relatively) well, are quite helpful, and ensure that your transition is a smooth one.
TT: Excellent advice. Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
J: Wow. This is a huge question because traveling and interacting with others has greatly widened my perspective of the world and all people. I had a teacher friend who said to me that teaching is a deeply humanistic practice because who you are directly impacts who you are as a teacher and ultimately how you teach.
As a teacher of a largely “thinking subject” I often encourage my students to consider the ways that their lives and experiences have framed the lenses through which they see and encounter the world. When they are analyzing a character or a historical event it is essential that they understand where and how that opinion is grounded.
So, traveling and teaching has taught me to also be mindful of that practice. Traveling has made me aware of my own biases and privileges, and it has allowed me to be sensitive and compassionate to my students as they consider the world through books and texts. It has made my work even more humbling, especially as I enter my students’ world as an outsider.
Most importantly, this allows me to be a learner alongside my students as they teach me about their culture, opinions, and even the ways that my experiences have shaped the ways that I teach them.
TT: Well said. How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and in your current career?
J: I have been able to tap more into my role as a social activist. The more that you see the world and experience people, the softer your heart should become. I see my work as a duty and a call to be more rooted in humanitarian efforts.
Traveling and seeing others suffer and experiencing social injustices not only begins to heighten your awareness of the similar conditions that might exist in your own society, but it also places within you the understanding that there is a common thread that connects all human beings. You become aware of this notion of a “universal language” and an interconnectedness between people everywhere.
I have began to accept and step more into my role as an ambassador, particularly as a woman of color (especially given the small percentage of people of color who are able to travel), and I am increasingly aware of the ways that barriers and ignorance, particularly those that led to and perpetuate the “isms’ in the world, are combatted and destroyed through human interaction.
And then to have a platform like teaching where I am able to do this on a daily basis through the exchange with my students. It is powerful. It is powerful to know that teaching and travelling and meeting people can truly, truly change lives.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a person?
J: Hmmm. Where do I even begin? First, I am aware that I am so, so, so very privileged and because of that I am humble and grateful. Second, I do not believe that there are any limits to what I can do.
I have been able to push myself in ways unimaginable. Living in countries where you are unfamiliar with the culture and do not speak the language is mind blowing.
I have learned to appreciate and depend on other people. I have accepted my role and position as a lifelong learner, especially as a teacher. And finally, I have become even more aware of the power of human beings, our actions, what we say or do not say, and how healing love, acceptance, and tolerance can be.
TT: Beautiful. What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?
J: IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! FOREVER!
If you have the desire, do it. I understand that there can be a number of thoughts that may prohibit people from pursuing international travel, especially when they are comfortable in their current position, but it is worth it and truly life – changing.
TT: Thanks so much, Jamilah! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English from Boston who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs AroundTheWorld L.com Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational art. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following @WorldLillie on social media!
Wednesday 5th of December 2018
Hi! I loved this article. Thank you for sharing! I went to the Dominican for three weeks this summer. I loved and taught none of the dancers English. I am an English/ESL teacher. I’d love to connect with you as I have been considering teaching there and have not been able to gather a great deal of information. Would you be willing to chat?
Monday 31st of July 2017
Hello Jamillah, It was really interesting to read your blog. I am also offered a teaching job in the Dominican Republic. I had a few questions. Can you please provide me some info.
Monday 31st of July 2017
Absolutely! I am happy to. Lillie, can you connect us?
Saturday 24th of September 2016
Hello, I loved the article and I am also a woman of color that is interested in teaching abroad. I have lived outside the country before in Cuba and Japan but with my family. This would be my first time living abroad by myself. I have an offer to teach English in the Dominican Republic to early childhood. I would love any tips/advice.
Saturday 24th of September 2016
I am happy to share some advice with you. What is your email address?
Monday 5th of October 2015
I applaud you for your success in your personal goals! What is more, your values resonate with mine!
I think the world is our heritage and we need to take risks and thus avoid the traditional path into a career, as it can sometimes stifle the energy hidden inside of us. As Einstein said, work defines us.
Currently, I teach math and chemistry in SF, CA, USA. I have a strong inclination to spread my wings more, as SF is not my home, but merely a wonderful pitstop. I originate from Greece, thus I have experienced the expansion of my comfort zone. It feels imperative to continue the line of work I am part of, teaching, while treat the mind-soul duality as a fire to be kindled and not a vessel to be filled (edited by me, originally quoted by Plutarch).
Feels like teaching is my civic duty, that allows me to touch upon delicate topics directly, not merely discuss them. An international teaching career would check many boxes in my personal list of values.
Do you know of other teachers that pursued teaching the subjects of math and sciences? I know you taught english and you mentioned some good international schools that would appreciate people that desire a longer commitment, such as a year. Might you be able to direct me to a few?
May your fire grow stronger and its glow inspire its witnesses to be a human of few inhibitions like you!
Thank you for your time, aris
Monday 5th of October 2015
Aris, Thank you for your kind words. Please reply with your email and I am happy to answer your questions directly.
Sunday 4th of October 2015
This article is so inspiring! Congratulations Jamilah. I am so proud of you. ;)
Carlita Pitts (Jamilah's sister)