Ian Bonanno

Fringe Benefits

In the job descriptions EF posts for future English teachers, I don't think they mention the fact they organize events for teachers. I, on the other hand, consider this to be a rather important perk in the grand scheme of my time at EF thus far. These events are organized by teachers for teachers, and they are always fun. I will be the first to admit that exploring Shanghai, or China in general, on your own can be intimidating, but EF sponsors adventurous teachers if they have ideas for organized events. This is also a great perk if it turns out you are an adventurous teacher who want to develop leadership and planning skills. I've personally attended several teacher-organized events, and recently I organized my very own event!

My First Teacher Event

The very first teacher-organized event I attended in Shanghai was a scrumptious and decadent tour of a chocolate factory. This event was entirely paid for by EF, and the whole thing was completely planned by another teacher at my school. The tour group I was in spent the entire day tasting around 100 different types of chocolate, and again the entire cost was covered by EF! The event was fun and delicious and afterwards, I resolved to attend one teacher-organized event every month. Because of this resolution, I've not only toured a chocolate factory, but I have also been to an escape room, gone go-karting, and attended a Christmas-themed open mic night. These latter events were not as tasty as touring a chocolate factory, however they were just as fun.

My First Teacher Event

Escape Room, Go-karting, and Open Mic, Oh My!

Firstly, the escape room I tried with other EF teachers was fun, but sadly we didn't finish. I went to the escape room as part of a small teacher event with only eight teachers in total. It was a healthy mix of international teachers like me, and local teachers from around Shanghai. Talking and completing brain teasers with other EF teachers from around the city was fun, and I still see teachers from the escape room around EF. Everyone was nice, which was good because again we didn't complete the escape room. Secondly, go-karting was a blast and I still talk to the other teachers I met there as well. I went to the go-karting track with a South African teacher I knew from my school, and everyone else I met was a new face and a new name. Since the go-karting event, I have stayed in touch with some of the teachers who also attended. One of the local teachers I met I continue to see around EF at different events, and I've also gone out a few times with an international teacher I met while go-karting. Finally, the open mic night was super meaningful because it was the first Christmas I spent in China. Listening to funny and sad Christmas stories was more cathartic than I could have imagined, and I will always appreciate the teacher who organized the event for how it helped me cope with Christmas in China.

Escape Room, Go-karting, and Open Mic

Taking the Lead

I enjoyed the experience of going to the above teacher-organized events so much that I decided to become an event organizer myself and serve the wider EF teacher community. The teacher at my school who had been planning events decided to step away from the role so she could focus on professional development, and because I'd gone to two events she'd organized (the chocolate factory tour and the open mic night) she decided to volunteer me to fill her spot on the events team. I was super nervous and excited to plan events, but deciding on my first official event was really tough. After agonizing over what type of event people would want to attend I settled on simply returning to the escape room I'd already visited. I already knew the terrain and that people would enjoy the challenge of an escape room, so going back to the same escape room was a logical fallback (it also gave me a second chance to actually finish all the puzzles). A few teachers showed up late to my event, but other than that it went off without any major issues. EF covered the cost of the whole thing, and now I've got 13 new friends spread across Shanghai!

Do you like adventures, and being organized, and organized adventures?

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