The Irony, the Dilemma, and the Betrayal

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Living in another country and sharing your culture
The Lucky Country

So I’ve not yet arrived home in Oz and I’m pissed off, in a major way. Making the decision to return home to Australia was one of the most difficult I’ve had to make in my life. I didn’t want to leave the US, but  I made the decision to because I was tired of struggling and being paid way less than I was worth. I decided to make a stand for myself, my dreams, and my family. I wasn’t spending my days working my passion, and I needed to make a change to do so.

So I thought, I know, I’ll go home and teach, even if it’s only casual, so I can earn almost triple what I am here. I can take this money and the extra free time to grow our travel blog and related start ups to do what I really love. I was excited. I turned to the Internet to start applying for jobs and soon found out that I’m not allowed to teach in Australia.

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? My life right now would fit perfectly into the third verse of this classic Alanis Morrisette song.

It’s partly my own fault. You see, all those years ago, when I went to Uni, teachers only had to complete a 3 year degree. The fourth year was optional. And in the fourth year, you had to do a whole 10 weeks, unpaid, in the classroom. Now, to someone who lives life for the moment (aha silly me), I saw this as being absurd. I could go out and teach now and get paid for the experience instead? Not only that I could  jump on a plane now, teach in London and travel the world? I knew I would get paid less being a three year teacher but crap I wanted to live, and there is no price you can put on that. Besides, wouldn’t teaching on the other side of the planet compensate for the lack of the fourth year?

Apparently not. And I’m screwed. Two years ago they changed rules. You must now have a four year degree. If you remained in the teaching system, however, you’re okay. But I didn’t. I chose to instead teach around the world. 5 countries, 13 years. The last time I taught in NSW was 2002. That meant I had been out of the system for 5 years. And this means my status is now a NEW TEACHER. And new teachers need 4 year degrees.

I wrote a letter to explain my situation and all I had done in my teaching career.

“‘I’m afraid we can’t make exceptions to the rule,” they replied.

As a teacher of the English language, you must understand there are always exceptions to every rule. That’s what makes it flow.

I may not have done my fourth year of University study, but I was ballsy enough as a  graduate to take my first step into the classroom, in the worst area of East London,

Teaching in Thailand
My Thai students

where I had chairs thrown at my head, and taught a class full of Bangladeshi non-English speaking children and war torn Somalian refugees. For 2 years I taught in the notoriously difficult Hackney area, adapted, and learned a lot about another educational system and culture.

I took my white skinned, blond haired, blue eyed self to stand in front of every class in a Thai all boy high school to teach English. I had anything up to 4o students in my class, some that could hold a conversation and others that couldn’t even say hello. We laughed together and we learned and we culminated it in a 2 night English speaking camp, with games and activities that I created.

I taught Irish minority students in Dublin, learned how to adapt to teach those whose culture was unlike any you would ever meet.

And then, in America, I learned an incredible amount about teaching. With a huge focus on academics, I learned how to apply some of  the best reading strategies effectively in the classroom. I learned all about standardized testing and how it is not the best way to evaluate our children. I sat on my School Improvement Team Committee and created plans and programs to implement in order make the school  a better learning environment for children. And I created my own daily news cultural broadcast show on my greatest love and passion, Australia. I had the guts each morning to appear on TV in front of the whole school and sing Aussie songs, recite poetry, and laugh like a kookaburra just to spark a flame of curiosity and love for the world around the students and introduce them to an amazingly exotic land.

And then there’s Australia. A country who has the highest of educational standards, recognized around the world. A country who I find is the easiest to teach in, and also the best. A country who really caters to the individual and prepares them to live a well rounded, happy life. But how would anyone teaching in Australia, ever know this if they never stepped outside their own nation’s door? How would they ever be able to take a great idea, or strategy, or technique that they learned from another country and apply it to their own educational system to make it better? Apparently a fourth year of Univesity will do that better for you than the blood and guts on the foreign streets.

13 years of  enriching teaching experiences count for nothing in this bureaucratic land. I chose to move back to teach except I now can’t teach. I have students from around the world who still write to me and talk of the impact I made on their lives, and now I can’t do that anymore. I had administrators and teachers at my school here in the US begging me to stay, and now I have Australian educational departments telling me to go.

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

So now what do I do now? I thought about sucking it up and just taking the course to do the extra year. Online, it would take me about a year and a half and $6,000 to complete. But then I thought, Ca, just sit back and listen to the message. The road block is up. This is not what I really want to do. All that time and money I could instead put into travel, my oxygen. In reality, I could be gone from Australia in 6 months. I only wanted to teach casually for the money, although to spend time with the children and teach them about the world and the greatness that lives inside of them was an extra reward. But still my passion lies here in my blog and everything else I want to do that relates to travel, not in full time teaching. In some sense I feel so betrayed by my country, especially considering how kindly I have been treated by strange lands. Right now steam is coming out of my ears at Australia and I hate it.

I have to instead focus on what brilliance instead must be coming my way. Taking the extra year of study and paying for the job would just be me selling out. Selling out on my dream life and losing faith in what my true purpose really is.

I’ve not totally given up. One thing life and travel has taught me, is that if you can’t get in the front door, try the back, and if you can’t get in the back then try the chimney. If I find all entrances blocked, well then that means that I am on the right path with my passion and well education Australia- it’s your loss.

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