Southeast Asia

Kay has been a teacher in both Ghana and Southeast Asia.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how and where you grew up, and where you went to school.
I was born in the Philippines as a PK, and later went to Indonesia with my parents who were missionaries there for almost 15 years. In the Philippines I went to public schools. In Indonesia we were first homeschooled with other missionary children (in a garage that was converted into a classroom), and later, my siblings and I were one of the first students at a new school for expats, which is now a well-known International school in Bandung, Indonesia. When I started senior high school, I went back to the Philippines to study, as the tuition at the Bandung school became too much for a missionary family income. I stayed with relatives while I finished high school, Bible College, and up to when I finished a teaching degree in secondary education. (My parents were in Indonesia, except for when they were on furlough.) I finished my Master’s in Linguistics and subsequent grad courses at Ohio University. After grad school, I taught ESL/ELL for many years at a public school in Ohio.
What made you decide to become a teacher?
My parents in heaven and our neighbors would testify that I decided to be a teacher even before I went to school. I would gather neighbor kids (around my age) and ‘teach’ them how to write ABCs with chalk, using my little 12 in. x 8 in. green slate that had the ABCs around its edge. Seriously, I wanted to be a teacher at a very young age. Always did. God opened opportunities for me to pursue an undergrad degree in Secondary Ed. with majors in English and Natural Science. After teaching at a Filipino school for 2 years, God opened another teaching opportunity at an Indo-Chinese refugee camp, also in the Philippines. Teaching ESL to refugees who were bound for the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, and other countries, opened my eyes and interest in pursuing a graduate degree in ESL, which led me to finish a Master’s in Applied Linguistics in the US. I could say that God was the One who decided for me to become a teacher, by putting all the opportunities, experiences, and resources on my path.
How did you first hear about opportunities at NICS?
I had always wanted to teach overseas (outside the U.S. and the Philippines), and asked God to close doors in the U.S. if HE wanted me to go. And HE did! (Be careful for what you pray for!!!) I looked at the website of my old school in Bandung, Indonesia (Question #1, the start-up school), thinking I could apply there. The name of the school was Bandung International School (BIS). As I was scrolling through the pages and learning about my old school, I saw on the margin of the school’s website another school name. It was BAIS or Bandung Alliance International (now Intercultural) School. Curious, I decided to investigate about BAIS. I read and read, and it directed me to the NICS website. As they say, the rest is history!!!! Praise the LORD! I have taught at our NICS school in Ghana, and now at one of our Oasis schools in Southeast Asia.
Did you speak any languages beyond English?
Yes, I did and still do.
What did your family say when you told them you were teaching in another country?
Coming from a missionary family, they said, “If God opens the way, go for it!”
What was the biggest barrier keeping you from signing on as a NICS Teacher?
I had some medical needs. Going to a missionary salary from a fairly good monthly paycheck and health insurance was the first barrier. How about my daily maintenance of meds? Are there good hospitals if something happens?
What convinced you to overcome that barrier?
His Word convinced me and I claimed it. My life verse, Isaiah 41:10, reminded me again that HE is all I need, and HE will care for me. This verse has 7 promises, one for each day. That was enough. He did, He has, and I know He will come through for me. He reminded me how HE had come through for me, through the years leading to joining NICS.
Did your family encourage you to go? If so what was the most encouraging thing they did?
Yes, they did. They bought me a Magic Jack plan that is internet based, so I could call them anytime! The church and elder relatives gathered together, gave me a despedida (goodbye/send-off party) and prayed over me.
What was your biggest fear when you first landed in your new country?
Would I find the food I am used to? The answer: Yes, I did for some and adjusted when others were not available. I also learned to appreciate (and love!) the food of the new country.
What was your favorite experience living in a new country?
Learning, experiencing, and adjusting to the new culture. My senses went wild in both directions! I loved what my senses loved, and the ones my senses did not like, I learned from them.
What is the funniest thing that happened to you as you acclimated to a new culture?
During the first 2 weeks at my apartment, I could not understand why a modern high rise apartment building would not have appropriate lighting from the main door to the elevators. Each time I would go into the building after dark, I would use my cellphone light to see my way to the elevators. One day, a gentleman stomped hard on the floor and whistled, and the lights magically turned on. He looked at me, puzzled that I was using my tiny cellphone light. Embarrassing and funny! From someone who has lived in the ‘boonies’ (even in the US), this was pretty funny to me. Can you imagine me whistling or stomping on the floors? And it has to be a certain pitch and loudness of whistling.
Tell us your favorite story from teaching at your NICS school.
At the first NICS school, I taught and tutored a Japanese 6th grader. On the first day of after-school tutoring, I helped this student understand his Bible homework: The Lord’s Prayer! I truly believe that those one-on-one times I helped him with homework, and answering honest questions about God, salvation, and living the Christian life, led him to accept Christ, and eventually he gave his testimony in front of his peers at school. Still gives me chills!
What makes teaching at NICS so special?
Teaching at NICS truly gives you the opportunity to teach to the whole child. It comes with the opportunity (and mission) to point a child to Christ and heavenward. AND, you get to see the world doing that!!! How awesome is that!
How did your experience with NICS help you grow as a teacher?
Teachers in NICS schools come from different walks of life, different countries and cultures, different educational backgrounds, expertise, experiences, different teaching styles, and different personalities. When all these come together in a school, the result is phenomenal: new teaching ideas, new perspectives in learning and teaching, new bank of teaching tools and resources, and ultimately, learning how to adjust to new information and how to incorporate them into one’s repertoire.
What do you wish you knew before you signed up?
I tend to ask a lot of questions before I sign up, so the things I wish I knew before signing up would be minor things.
What would you tell someone considering becoming a NICS teacher?
If the Lord opens the way, GO for it! I believe that ALL experiences/events/opportunities that HE opens up or puts on your path, all lead and prepare you to and for the next exciting adventure HE has in store for you. So, GO!
What is the one thing a new teacher should pack for their trip?
Your favorite SPICES! If you like to cook/bake, that is! Seriously! Cooking and baking gives me comfort – especially when I‘m away from home. SO, pack what gives you comfort. IF reading gives you comfort, fill your Kindle with books. IF a book for teaching in your area, pack it! I always bring one or two books that I know could help me in my area of teaching.
What is your best advice for getting used to a new culture/climate?
Be open to the new culture and be willing to make a commitment to learn. Experience and enjoy the new culture by being out there where people are at. Invite them into your home. Look at the ‘new things, way of doing things, or ideas’ from THEIR perspective. Have them teach you their ways and share yours, too, but be sensitive to their culture. You are in THEIR territory. Ask a lot of questions.
What final words of encouragement do you have for someone considering a job with NICS?
Pray specifically AND, when HE opens all the doors, walk through them with the confidence of Isaiah 41:10 in your suitcase.

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