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March 03, 2009

Home is Where We Find Ourselves

Most people I know who take EFL related courses do so with the intent of living in another country - or to be able to travel the world with a portable and easily transferable set of skills.

Those of us who decide to live and work far from home expect.....

...life abroad to be full of surprises - most are welcome and enjoyable - though some are not.

I'd like to hear from some of our readers on this topic. What do you expect in an overseas position? What do you dread or fear?

When I was teaching in China, one of the sayings I heard that applied to foreigners like myself, was that we were in China, not to be there, but to get away from something back home. Is that true for you?

There is something liberating about leaving it all behind. How would you measure that in your set of decisions? Do you think it is a small part of your choice to teach overseas? A large part?

Whatever your motivation, I would encourage you to drink deeply of your host culture. Don't hang around with other teachers - especially with those from your culture - or one close to yours. Eat the food. Listen to the music. Take part in cultural events. Gather stories. Listen.

Consider these tips from StoryCorps:

1. Listening is an act of love; it is the greatest gift we can give.
2. If we take the time to listen, we find wisdom, wonder, and poetry in the lives and stories around us.
3. Recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about enables us to experience our shared history, hopes, and humanity.
4. By joining our cause, you are helping to build a culture of listening. Listen to stories and learn more at www.storycorps.net
5. Find the StoryCorps fan page on facebook and become a fan!

Send us your stories. You have an eager audience waiting to hear about your unlikely experiences.

And if you don't share yours, I'll be compelled to tell more of mine...

My best to you,


Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf spent about six years working for a Native American Tribal College, a few years teaching various humanities, English, writing and ESL courses with the community college system in Washington State (including one year as part of a faculty exchange program with The Beijing Foreign Language University). While in China, Morf was briefly a radio host for CRI (China Radio International) and did recordings for the "English can be enjoyable" book and tape series. Morf currently teaches English and writing for a local technical/vocational college with many international students. Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else likes and riding his bicycle in unlikely and ridiculous situations.

Morf is also quietly anticipating that unexpected, but lucrative job offer.

Posted by mmorf at March 3, 2009 10:20 PM

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