I opened the email, excited and nervous for the answer I’d been waiting for the past four months. As I read it, my heart sank. I was rejected for my acceptance into an MFA program. I wanted to be an author and creative writing professor, but I needed a master’s degree for that… which meant my dream was on hold for another year until I could reapply in January. Difficult as the news was to process, I started looking for another option after graduation. That’s how I found myself in China, teaching English to university students. The job satisfied my adventure cravings, as well as gave me an opportunity to teach at the high university level I wanted—with only a bachelor’s degree. What I didn’t know when accepting the job offer at Sias, was how it would further my writing dream.
People start working at Sias with a variety of different goals. Sias does everything it can to help the teachers move forward towards their goals. I really appreciate that, as some jobs don’t offer to help if your future goals don’t include them. Some teachers started out in Oral English, but then moved to teaching academic subjects that they were more interested in. Other teachers were given opportunities to move into administrative roles within the school. Teachers at Sias who ended up in other places in China and around the world continue to keep in contact. The professional relationships made here will remain throughout your career.
When teachers at Sias found out that I wanted to be an author and creative writing professor, a new set of doors were opened up to me. There’s an annual week-long event called “Culture Week.” Culture week is when teachers can demonstrate their talents while showing traditions from countries around the world to the Chinese students. Having been to Kenya before, I was eager to help with the Africa night performance. I was asked to write a short play, roughly about twenty minutes long. Teachers from South Africa shared their favorite traditional stories, and I combined that with what I experienced. It was fun, rewarding, and exciting for me to write a play. I was on stage as a hostess while my play was performed in front of four-hundred people. At the very end, when the audience clapped, I’d never felt prouder and more fulfilled. My writing was performed in front of hundreds of people who loved it! Sias gave me the chance to use my talents.
Another way Sias has helped my career is by giving me a second job! The moment I heard about blogging for Academics in Asia, I sent in my application. I’ll always remember this as my first paid writing job. Blogging has given me more writing contacts, money for writing blogs three times a month, and ideas for novels to write. Also, the teaching hours at Sias give me plenty of time to write, both for the blog and in my travel journal. I teach eighteen hours a week. Even with additional hours for meetings, lesson planning, and grading, there’s still more time in the day for me to work on my writing than another job would provide. The inspiration I’ve gained from living abroad has given me plenty to write about.
Another bonus of Sias is networking! I’ve become friends with people who have helped me further my goals. There is a creative writing club for teachers who want feedback on writing. Many of the teachers at Sias are writers who are already published or hope to be published someday. As I worked on my graduate school application, teachers here read my stories, helped me pick out the best ones, and Sias itself gave me ideas for my statement of purpose essay. My bosses and coworkers were willing to give me references, even though it could potentially take me away from the school. Thanks to them, I’ve been accepted into an MFA program and am currently waitlisted for another program.
I never imagined that teaching abroad would present so many chances to further my career goals. Sias is not just another job for people; it’s a job that will find a way to showcase your unique aspirations and abilities. Teachers who leave Sias for a different job in their home country often end up moving back! Sias gave me the references, work experience, and world experience I needed to get into a master’s program. If you are interested in doing a master’s program in TESOL, business, or education, Sias can help pay for it! Feel free to ask me questions about that or anything else. What are your goals? What can Sias do to help you achieve them?
Great job Rebekah! I love your positive attitude and communication style. The information you provided is authentic and helpful to others. Way to move forward with your goals and be a leader for others along your journey.