TeachingTraveling.com: Hip hip hooray for our esteemed guest today, Dr. Jessie Voigts of the wildly successful teaching-traveling community, Wandering Educators.com. Welcome, Jessie!
Jessie: I’m excited to share our resource for global educators, Wandering Educators, with the readers of Teaching Traveling. I’d also love to share what I’ve learned on my journeys about teaching, living in different cultures, and the power of culture in shaping worldviews.
TT: Excellent! Please begin by telling us about WanderingEducators.com.
J: An international community of traveling educators, Wandering Educators is a resource for discovering extraordinary travel destinations, fascinating people, and global artists and photographers, among our many published articles. Wandering Educators is the largest source of travel guide reviews on the internet.
Lastly, WanderingEducators.com is the largest source of international jobs, internships, and academic conferences for educators around the world.
We have almost daily Teaching and Traveling job postings at this link, and a growing number of TESOL opportunities at this link. We also have great ESL articles here.
Who is a wandering educator? Our audience is diverse: travelers who are K-12 teachers, homeschoolers, students, higher education professors and administrators, and life learners… all are welcome!
TT: Fantastic. How did you come to begin this website?
J: Creating a resource for global educators is the culmination of an exciting and lifelong journey. My family raised me to believe in the importance of travel and international experiences.
When I was in 7th grade, we hosted a young girl from Japan, through our local 4-H club. The next year, I went and visited her family for the summer. It changed my life. From then on, I was excited to learn and experience as much as I could about the world.
In college, I studied international economics, and had a chance to go work in Japan for a year. Living overseas for an extended period of time was an extraordinary and extremely impactful experience.
One of the most important things that I learned in this year overseas was that we are all teachers – whether small children helping with language, or the shopkeeper who helps figure out what you want and teaches you about the culture and the roots of the products you are buying. Be open to learning from everyone, especially while you’re in a different culture.
After I returned, I went for a Master’s Degree in Cross-cultural Communication. I wrote my Master’s Thesis on intercultural adaptation, and worked at Michigan State University’s Study Abroad office. I LOVED this job! It was amazing to touch so many people’s lives, and to facilitate their intercultural learning experiences.
One of the most important things I learned from working in Study Abroad is the power of culture to truly shape an individual. You can prepare someone for being in a different culture all you want, but until they are actually experiencing another culture, no true intercultural learning can take place.
I worked in London one summer, directing MSU’s Summer London Study Abroad Programs. This, more than anything, led me to truly believe in the transformative power of living and learning in a different culture. I saw firsthand the value of study abroad and international education, with a large number of college students.
I received my PhD in International Education from the University of Minnesota. This was an incredible experience. I learned from many educators, including Dr. Michael Paige, who wrote the book on adaptation and intercultural sensitivity; Dr. Josef Mestenhauser, who has changed the face of international education both here in the US and abroad; Dr. John Cogan, who taught the importance of internationalizing the school curriculum; and Dr. Kay Thomas, who led by example, in that she welcomed thousands of international students to the University of Minnesota.
The most important thing I learned from being with educators and students from around the world was that true intercultural learning can take place at any time, and anywhere. You’ve just got to be open to it.
Although several disabilities have precluded my working in international education in a university environment as I had planned, I wanted to make an impact in the field of international education. Family discussions about life goals narrowed our main priorities as travel and intercultural learning. We decided to create a website for international educators, and thus Wandering Educators was born.
It’s truly become a family business, with our 8-year old daughter writing on the site (and learning through travel), as well. We’ve been lucky enough to travel and share our experiences on the site.
We’ve also shared thousands of great resources for travel and international education, from jobs to lovely places to stay and learn, all around the world. It’s incredible, the people we’ve met, and their lifework that we’ve been lucky enough to share with our readers.
TT: What a journey. What advice do you have for prospective teacher-travelers?
J: One of the most important things I’ve learned from Wandering Educators is that when you travel, it’s the people that matter, not the place. Live with and learn from locals. Find local businesses before you go, or while you’re there. Support people’s passions, whether it is making textiles, sharing their love of their home through being a tour guide, or cooking. It makes a difference.
TT: Very true. How can interested folks use and become involved with Wandering Educators?
J: We’ve found a wide array of extremely knowledgeable editors, each sharing their worldviews and expertise. If someone has a passion about a national, geographic, or topical area of interest, and are interested in sharing it with our readers, please think about becoming a WE Editor! Email me at: jessie [at] wanderingeducators dot com.
We LOVE our editors. We have over 35 editors from around the world, on a variety of topics, from ESL to Pet Travel to Living in Italy Editors.
There is *always* room for more editors at our table, the more resources we share, the better!
What do we need? A regular commitment to share your expertise on the site, articles of at least 400 words, and photos are also helpful to attract and maintain readership.
I am also always looking for book reviews – if you’ve got a great book you’d like to share with our readers, please contact me. We’ve also had many guest posts, from readers that want to share their intercultural experiences. I feel honored that we can share the worldview of so many creative and intelligent people on Wandering Educators.
TT: Great! What closing thoughts do you have for us?
J: Although international education and travel have been two of the main tenets of my life, with Wandering Educators we can reach a larger number of global educators than I can by myself. By sharing travel resources, books, jobs, and the joys of living an intercultural life, I hope that we’ve made an impact on international education.
To all of the explorers of the world, I suggest: GO! Learn. Explore. Be open to what others can teach you. Be gentle with yourself.
And love! Love what you’re doing, where you are, the people you are with. You’ll change yourself, others… and the world.
TT: Thanks so much, Jessie! You and your site are such wonderful contributions to the teaching-traveling community!