Becoming an ESL/EFL teacher, uprooting and leaving your home and all that is familiar, jumping in and taking a risk for the experience of a lifetime well I say this takes grit! What the heck is grit? Grit is a personality trait that has passion and resilience at its center. I say it takes this grit and the ability to overcome obstacles and differences in a new country and in a new job with all both entail. These are no easy tasks and there is a personality trait that all ESL/EFL teachers have – grit.
A gritty personality is often described as a person that is tenacious and ambitious and one who perseveres through all difficulties. This characteristic is found in all nationalities and truly in those people who leave their homeland and families to follow a dream or a goal to experience and succeed.
China has a huge, I mean huge, English language industry and a primary focus is on educating her school age citizens in preparation for entering university and ultimately the work force. Part of the focus is also on learning and being exposed to western culture and ways of thinking and doing, without losing their native cultural. When you live in a homogeneous country of billions you can imagine the important impact of the ESL industry on these children and families.
But, as easy as it is to write about it, the transition for a foreign teacher to living and working in this vastly different country is anything but easy. When you take a new job or move to a new city in your home country it is measured as a huge change in ones life – both are in the top ten of impactful changes for a person. It is also often thought that it takes 6 to 9 months to settle into these changes feeling comfortable in your new role or your new city. The changes that occur for anyone doing this work here in China are immeasurable really. The impact we have on our students and their families and the communities we live in is also important and immeasurable. When you move to a whole new country and couple that with a new job, the impact on a person and the time it takes to adjust are incredible and differ for each person.
Something that is the same for each person that comes to China to teach is this characteristic called grit. The foreigners teaching English here in China are as different as the countries and cities and families and backgrounds they come from, but… it is the grit, the hardiness, the resilience, and perseverance that all of us have in common. The motivations for coming to China may also be different, but the common characteristic remains. All of us have a common reservoir of this grit that enable us to not just adjust and learn to accept, but also that allow us to become more fluid personally and workwise, regardless of our backgrounds and where we are from. This grit helps us to meet our need to achieve this seemingly impossible journey of becoming an English teacher in China; that journey that takes us from our homes and families and puts us right in the middle of a country with people and a culture that is a different as night is from day from all that we know.
So, how ‘bout you, do you have true grit? That drive to do and be and to accomplish no matter what the odds might be? If you think you do, check out teaching English here in China. For me, it is a dream come true professionally and even more personally! I am truly living my dream here in China! #LivingaDreaminChina
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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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