As a part of the Production Management team, my job here in Shenzhen is to help facilitate the implementation of new EF products and projects, to coach academic teams, to implement innovative initiatives and to locate emerging talent at our Kids and Teens schools. It’s a wonderful job that provides me opportunities to meet many awesome EF’ers in schools and different departments all across the city (and country, for that matter)! One of the people I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know is Gavin Guo.
Gavin is a teacher at a Kids and Teens school in Shenzhen. Having spent time with Gavin, I was inspired as I saw how smartly he has aligned his passions and goals with his teaching job at EF! Through this opportunity at teaching with EF, he has been able to really work at (and continues to work at) being a top-notch teacher and he is disciplined at creating and living a full life achieving his goals and dreams.
Gavin, please tell us a bit about yourself, your time at EF, and your goals for your EF career. Why did you decide to join EF?
I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from Chinese parents. I speak English, French, Cantonese and conversational Mandarin. So far, my experience in EF is amazing. I am developing myself a lot as a person and as a teacher. I came to EF to share my passion for teaching with the children and to help them become the best version of themselves.
What’s the best experience or lesson you’ve had working with EF so far?
My best experience was when I took part in the SINA Five Star Teachers Competition last September 2019. I had the opportunity to meet great people and I won! In addition, I was interviewed by SINA, one of the largest media companies in China, to discuss how the SINA Competition impacts the field of education.
You told me once about your amazing travel goal. What’s it about and how did you come up with your plan?
My travel plan is that before I turn 40, I want to travel to every country in the world! In December 2015, my Dad suddenly passed away, just 3 years before his retirement. During the first few months after his death, the combination of mourning his sudden loss and going through my routine lifestyle was killing me to the point that I began to suffer from anxiety. Then, my little sister and her boyfriend helped me realize that to be happy I should start living for myself and that I should take action immediately before it\’s too late – because that “too late” moment could come at any time!
So, I wrote a list of things that I want to do in my life (e.g. Chill in the Maldives while watching my toes getting tanned). When I finished my list, I realized that to achieve all the things that I listed, I would need to travel to all the countries in the world. At first, I said: “Impossible! In my dreams!” Then, one day, while I was bored and sitting around in my condo, I decided that just for fun I’d write out a plan to travel to all countries in the world. After I finished the plan, I said: “Hey it\’s possible! Here it is! Now, let\’s make it happen!” Then, by developing myself through work and reading, and talking with people that support my dream (especially with my little sister and her boyfriend), almost 3 years later, I have travelled to 14 new countries all while enjoying my life at EF, which I call, “La Very Good Life”.
My approach to planning my travels is like this:
- I create a bucket list by writing a list of activities I want to do (e.g. I want to see icy mountains).
- From the bucket list, I write the list of countries that match the bucket list.
- Then I create a financial budget plan that allows me to travel while having the money to pursue other projects (which in my case are paying my debts, real estate investment, retirement, helping my family members and adding to emergency savings).
- I strictly manage my expenses according to the budget.
- Then I count 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and do it! (Mel Robbin’s 5-second rule)!
How many countries have you visited since you started your travel plan?
Since I started my travel plan in February of 2018, which is the date I moved to China, I have traveled to 14 new countries: Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Maldives, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Italy, France and Switzerland!
How do you plan your trips? Any tips for potential travelers to get the most from their trips?
- Write a list of priorities.
For example, during my 6-day trip to Italy, my main goals were, (A) to see the Alps, (B) to visit at least 3 cities, and (C) to taste the cuisine. I figure there are too many things to see in just 6 days, therefore, it is very important for me to identify the things that I want to see bare minimum. This way, I can be sure to feel fulfilled after my trip.
- Write an itinerary.
For me, I plan to visit only one prioritized attraction per day, and I keep the arrival and departure days attraction free. As a result, I have a concrete plan on how to travel and what I want to see, and I don\’t feel rushed during the trip. If I am afforded more time to do other things, then it’s a bonus!
- Plan a daily budget for your travel and stick to it.
When budgeting, it is very important to consider the cost of living in each country, for example a piece of lasagna with sparkling water in Milan, Italy costs 150RMB whereas a BBQ pork rice meal in Shenzhen, China costs 30RMB.
- Once the itinerary and your budget are complete, the last step is to book your flight and hostel and then just go!
What has been the most challenging experience since you started your travel plan?
The most challenging experience since I started was when I realize that I had underestimated costs and therefore overspent during many of my travels last year. Nonetheless, I was still able to save 20000 RMB last year!
What’s your next destination?
My next destination is Laos on December 8th!
Does working at EF help you with your traveling goals?
Working at EF has helped me travel. With my salary and my vacation time, I can save enough money to travel the way I want!
Plainly, Gavin epitomizes the idea of a go-getter and he’s genuinely epitomizes the EF spirit! Besides being inspired by Gavin, I expect to be hearing great things about him and so I thought I’d facilitate that with this get-to-know-Gavin interview. Gavin’s dedication to teaching, his amazing travel goals and just how much he has accomplished towards hitting his goal in a short time, are truly amazing. Thank you for reading and I wish you inspiration too!
Are you ready?
Teach, travel and train with EF English First
Paul Chan takes a hand at teaching, coaching, sales, marketing, training staff, recruiting and trailblazing in and around the eastside of Shenzhen in the role of Production Manager!
Click here to learn more about Paul