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Choosing a Career: an interesting Paradox

My youngest daughter will be graduating from high school in a few months and she is concerned that she has not got a solid idea of what she wants to do at University and where she wants to attend. I have told her not to worry about it, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I graduated and even then I am not completely sure I ever really decided it just kind of happened (and I was very lucky).

She then said to me that a friend was talking about going to Africa to teach English (interesting I would have thought you were going over there to work for OXFAM or some aid group, do the folks in Africa even want to learn English? They have over 200 dialects, don’t they? But I digress).

I heard that one and said I wasn’t sure that was a great career move, and my daughter said she agreed with me, she thought it was a very interesting choice. I thought about it further and in my mind it strikes me as a very adventurous choice for an 18 year old to take be they male or female.

Last week I started French training, and when I walked into class I smiled. I have two instructors (one does the morning and one does the afternoon) and both of them are from the area around the former French Congo (Burundi, Zaire, etc.,) , so they are Africans that have come to Canada to teach French. Their skills at teaching are very good, and I think they have made a good career choice: they have come from Africa to Canada, to teach French.

I understand people coming to Canada to teach and enjoy a good standard of living and such, I am not as sure about “adventurous” choices like going to Africa to teach. I am glad my daughter has chosen not to investigate the “English teacher” option any further.

When I was younger folks talked about going to Europe to travel, and see the world, and I didn’t think that was a very good idea either (so this may just be a personal opinion), but I told my French instructors this story (about young ladies going to Africa to teach English, and their opinion was going to Africa to teach English might be  a little too “adventurous”  as well.

Maybe I am just a little too conservative? Xenophobic?

Feel Free to Comment

  1. I’m 25 and have been teaching in China for nearly five years. I finished university and came out here for an adventure. While here I’ve learned Mandarin as a second-language, gained 5 years of experience in education, 3 of which in a management position, I started a small school for the entrepreneurial experience and recently got married. I’m also completing grad school online through University of Liverpool in the UK. My wife and I plan to return to Canada and build our future there within the year (just waiting on immigration).
    Coming here was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’d suggest letting your daughter do it. At very least, she’ll learn about the world, herself, and gain direction.

  2. Yeah, to be honest, the places I want to see the most are the US, western Europe, and parts of Asia. Obviously the only places I could teach English would be in Asia, but I am not sure I could hack living in the tropics again. I was born in Malaysia and now live in NZ – going back is hellish in terms of temperature and humidity.

  3. There are a lot of college graduates who go to Japan to teach English. My son and his best friend traveled Europe after graduating college for a month. I think it depends on your age and where gographically you are going.

  4. Coincidentally, my daughter is graduating in a few months as well.

    Education on kids of that age need to be treated just like a budget. We need to lay out a plan and follow it through – and more specifically, show them how to do this, just like we teach our kids how to budget.

    Leaving education decisions to the whimsy and lack of direction of kids of that age is similiar to not showing them how to budget their money. It may seem like the natural thing to do, but it leaves them unprepared for life.

    Time enough to travel when you have the career and lifestyle that provides you the opportunity to do so. Or travel now and risk floundering your career for the next 20 years while you figure all that out.

    Tough decisions to make as parents, to have this discussion with their kids – it’s easier to think they should have their ‘freedom’ and let them meander. They’re far better served though if we buck up and show them how to budget and plan now – it’s important.

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