Clarissa is a teacher at the Bandung Alliance Intercultural School

Tell us a bit about yourself, how and where you grew up, and where you went to school.

I grew up in Alaska, mostly in small towns. I went to college at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for BAs in History and Education.

What made you decide to become a teacher?

I don't remember deciding to be a teacher! I only remember signing up for education classes at college. I always enjoyed working with kids though.

How did you first hear about opportunities at NICS?

A good college friend (Adam Kelley) heard about NICS from his dad, who is friends with Pete, and Adam told me. It all goes back to Pete!

Did you speak any languages beyond English?

Mediocre Spanish

What did your family say when you told them you were teaching in another country?

My mom didn't want me to go so far away but my Dad said, "People say the sign of good parenting is that your child is happy and able to leave home and start their own life. I must be a really good parent because my kid is moving across the planet!"  Haha!  I don't think they were surprised I was going overseas since I'd always wanted to live internationally.

What was the biggest barrier keeping you from signing on as a NICS Teacher?

Nothing  :) 

What was your biggest fear once you signed up?

Not being a good enough teacher.

Did your family encourage you to go? If so, what was the most encouraging thing they did?

Yes. I think the most encouraging thing was simply that they trusted my judgment about this choice. My parents and brothers never tried to persuade me to stay. Some of my extended relatives are still pretty confused about why I live here, but they've gotten used to it, even if they don't understand.

What was your biggest fear when you first landed in your new country?

Again, I think I was the most afraid of being a bad teacher. This was my first teaching job and I was pretty nervous!

What was your favorite experience living in a new country?

Impossible question!!!  I think one of my favorite experiences is simply that there is always something new to learn - whether about people or food or culture or myself or God or .... the list goes on forever. 

What is the funniest thing that happened to you as you acclimated to a new culture?

Oh there were lots! In the first few months, as I worked on learning Indonesian, one time I mixed up 'buku' (book) with 'buka' (open) and accidentally called out to the security guard, "Please book! Please book!"

Tell us your favorite story from teaching at your NICS school.

Again, impossible.  One of my favorites is when I overheard a G1 student talking about Pocahontas on the bus during a fieldtrip and I told her that Pocahontas was a real person, the Disney movie is about 95% wrong, and that Pocahontas is recorded to have converted to Christianity. The little girl got the biggest eyes ever and exclaimed, "Will I get to meet her in heaven!?" I also love watching students grow up. I've been here eight years (well, 7 + 1 furlough) so my first first graders are in grade 8 now.  Of course, the best ever is having a child (and sometimes whole families!) come to know Christ!

What makes teaching at NICS so special?

Being able to teach from a Christian worldview, among a staff of people passionate for what they do. 

How did your experience with NICS help you grow as a teacher?

Being the only grade-level teacher in a small school has it's challenges, but it's also helped me see the way schools work in a deep way since we are involved in so much of how this place works.

What do you wish you knew before you signed up?

That I'd be here so long - I would have bought better furniture from the get-go! Nothing I have matches! On a more serious note, I wish I'd known more about balancing life and work. It's still something I struggle with. 

What would you tell someone considering becoming a NICS teacher?

You can't come in an expect to live the same kind of life you had in your home country. You need to change. Come in as a learner and be willing to give up elements of self so that you can serve better.

What is the one thing a new teacher should pack for their trip?

Something which makes you happy. A poster, a special cup, cheese (seriously, I bring cheese every year), whatever.

What is your best advice for getting used to a new culture/climate?

Choose to love it, choose to look for the good. It's a choice at first, but eventually, it will be true. Don't complain about your host country in front of national staff.

What final words of encouragement do you have for someone considering a job with NICS?

Matthew 28:19a - Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.

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