It is a very cool thing when you become acquainted with someone in business who exemplifies positive leadership skills, humility, with drive and a can-do attitude. It’s extra special in this transient field of EFL teaching that you meet such an individual. I’ve had this cool experience in becoming acquainted with one such person – Paul Chan.
Paul’s story is unique for an EFL teacher – his doesn’t begin with a gap year and a desire to gather stamps in his passport. His began in his thirties when he had a budding career in banking. His story began realizing the importance of relationships, recognizing the importance of giving and accepting support and encouragement from others, and acknowledging the value and success in collaborating as a team.
So, how do you go from banker to teaching English? Here is one man’s story…
Paul Chan is a Chinese American; a child of immigrant parents, who kept Chinese culture and language alive in their home. Paul grew up with this rich dual cultural influence, instilled with global interests with family and business in China. Paul studied English at university and worked successfully in the banking industry as a home mortgage specialist in the vibrant and ethnically rich area of Los Angeles, California, all the while nurturing connections with family and friends.
Paul’s childhood friend began teaching ESL here in China, found love and started his family. This was a turning point for Paul. Wanting to be close to his best buddy and connect with his family roots, Paul headed for China, too. Paul’s dad through his business connections in China, introduced Paul to friend at EF! Inspired by his value of relationships, communication, and to be of service to others, Paul completed his teaching credential and returned to China to teach English. He began teaching with EF in Shenzhen honing his skills, then became Senior Teacher. During this time, Paul and his good friends Nick and Shane, had a radical idea to try to impact the lives of local kids who might not otherwise have a chance to study English.
Enjoying lunch together one afternoon, they saw some kids that ought to have been in school, helping their parents with chores. The three friends had a strong desire to help kids like these and the idea of a community volunteer activity was born. Paul and his friends took this idea back to EF and teachers began volunteering at schools whose students came from underprivileged families. Soon Paul’s friends would return to America, asking Paul as a favor to keep the program going. From the onset, it was the altruism of Nick and Shane that wanted to start this program.
Others also supported the initiative as well, but when they left, they wanted to keep the program going and entrusted it to Paul. EF Reach is one of the key projects under the Global Classroom Initiative with EF. This service program of EF China is nearly a decade old! It’s an incredible program with positive impacts on the community, the lives of students and their families, and teachers, too!
Here we have this man in his early 30’s, starting a new life, a new career, creating an incredible long-lasting community volunteer program, yet this was not enough for Paul. Humbled by the support and opportunities given to him by EF, Paul grew in his career over nearly a decade to become Associate Program Manager directing the use of curriculum and programs at EF in Shenzhen city. Grateful for the opportunities at EF Paul’s journey from a banking mortgage broker to thriving career with EF Paul continues to grow professionally with the support and help from others.
It’s not enough for Paul to do well. He is humbly doing good while serving and giving many others the chance to grow and do good, too. There are people who inspire us with their indomitable spirit – Paul is one of those people. He always acknowledges the accomplishments of others, and the invaluable support that so many have given him here at EF. Paul is living his passion of being of service to others every day in every way and is grateful to EF for giving him support and opportunities, and the place to excel! Bravo to Paul following this path; we are blessed to have his energy and commitment and just to have him on our team here at EF!
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Susan is an American woman living a dream — a dream to live and work in community in different countries! Several years in to her journey, she has found her home-away-from-home, while learning more about herself, more about the world, and building bridges through common language as an ESL teacher with EF Kids and Teens in Taizhou, Zheijiang, China. #Livin’aDreamInChina!
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