March has all but disappeared – faster than a plate of pimento cheese sandwiches at a Sunday porch social – making this seem like a good time to report on a recent relocation to the Deep South. Not surprising, while the cultural adjustments have been mostly kind and curious, it’s the socioeconomic differences that appear to stand out.
Of these, not wanting to buy a car (after four years of being vehicle-free) has led to challenging moments, especially with a slightly pricey public transit system running hourly buses and service ending around 9:00 pm. Fortunately, my current location is within walking distance of a historic, busy shopping area, complete with a delicious taqueria and public library.
Perhaps the most jarring revelation of this move has been finding suitable work for comparable pay. While the mystery remains of how the friendly people here afford their beautiful homes, luxury SUV’s and back-t0-back festivals, it soon became apparent that International Education isn’t a burgeoning field in the Holy City. After more than a month of searching, the best solution became clear: tap into the resources already there.
The original website for Kate Dana Teaches launched in 2012, following a TEFL Certificate earned in Guadalajara, Mexico. A number of private students supported both the idea of independent teaching as well as extensive travel, and this international teacher/jet setter not only enjoyed inspiring others but taking advantage of every break and holiday.
Years later, after some great teaching positions, extensive travel, and a cover-to-cover read of Chris Guillebeau’s brilliant book The $100 Start Up, the idea of self-employment resurfaced as a reasonable way to make money… and begin funding travel again. After emails from reputable online companies claimed they didn’t have a high demand for English tutors, it was settled: Go Independent.
A week of Internet research, one Craig’s List ad and several flyer posts later, my first student in Charleston arrived in late February. Challenges have included scheduling classes, developing specialized lesson plans, and gravitating towards paperless learning; all of which are merely stepping stones in the direction of building a dream.
“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”
― Dhirubhai Ambani
A few of the rewards of teaching English for Spanish Speakers include interacting with cultures relative to the past four years, as well as learning new Spanish words when we meet. Also, the idea of niche marketing, as suggested by notable online teacher Jack Askew of Teaching ESL Online, makes sense. Everyone benefits in the niche: both the native-speaking English teacher and the speakers of the second-largest language in the world.
So while the road ahead looks wide open, and there is still hope for a great opportunity to work with an impressive school or university, the thought of diving in to the unknown feels more exciting than scary… the same type of thrill that fuels the jet setter.