Thursday, February 26, 2015

Blog 200!

This is my 200th blog here at Leaving Amerika. It's been 23 months since I left the States, and closing in on one year since coming here to Myanmar.

I think I've changed in that time.  I'd say I'm a lot more patient with the world, accepting of difficulties and relaxed. Living in tropical Southeast Asia, although occasionally demanding, is, on the whole, less stressful than living in the USA.

As I mentioned in the Ajarn.com blog, I just re-upped my contract and with that comes some really great news.

When I started this journey, I spent three weeks earning a TEFL certificate, a teaching qualification which is a minimum requirement at most jobs if you want to teach English as a second language. Although there's some debate surrounding this, the TEFL is generally considered the second-tier of teaching qualifications in the industry.  Significantly more well regarded is the CELTA certificate.  The main reason it's got a better reputation is that it is administered by a single agency,
UK's Cambridge University.  Unlike the TEFL which has several competing organizations that certify the quality of the school, a CELTA is the same all over the world.

Of the 15 teachers who I call colleagues, I am one of three who have just the TEFL. The other 12 have CELTAs. One of those three, Anthony, is leaving Myanmar in a few weeks.

Speaking of Anthony, it's video break time!  Before I go back to the story, let me share this video I made after a recent visit to the Yangon Zoological Gardens...






It would be an important marketing tool for my company if they could promote themselves as being staffed entirely by CELTA qualified teachers. Not many places can do that, and for those in the know, particularly corporate clients, it ensures that all our teachers are well trained and qualified.

I got an e-mail a few weeks back from our CEO asking if I'd be interested in earning my CELTA on the company dime.  Yup, they've offered to pay for me to get my CELTA, and it's not cheap. I accepted, but there were some strings attached.  I'm actually paying for part of the cost and I had to sign an agreement promising that if I left the company before 18 months after completing the training, I would reimburse them for what they paid.

I'm staying in Yangon for the foreseeable future.

Best part of this CELTA trip is where I'm going for the month it's going to take to study.  There are no CELTA courses in Myanmar, so come April, I'm heading back to Thailand for a month. 

Speaking of Thailand, I'll break away from the story again for another video! Last week, I spent a weekend in Bangkok on a visa run.  I liked how this video worked out....




I'm not going back to Bangkok, though.  This time, I'll be up in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.  Chiang Mai is legendary for it's beauty and is probably
Thailand's most popular tourist destination. I'm going to stay at a converted resort some distance from the town, which I think is going to be a good thing.

See, the CELTA is said to be a LOT of work. It's not easy and a certain percentage of applicants fail the course.  There's nightly homework and several long projects. It's not going to be fun and games up there in Chiang Mai, but with my experience and determination, I'm confident I'll do just fine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cultivating Novelty

Hey folks!  Been a long time since I've blogged.  I do have some things to share, but for now, I wanted to link this article I wrote for Ajarn.com (Ajarn means 'teacher' in Thai). 

http://www.ajarn.com/blogs/joko-mackenna/cultivating-novelty

Hey folks! Joko here, your senior Myanmar correspondent at Ajarn.com. It's approaching one year since I left The Land of Smiles for the wild, final frontier of TESOL in SE Asia, and, as anniversaries often make one feel, I find myself more and more contemplative as the date approaches.

Wow! It's Lao - Part 7: Luang Prabang to Nong Kiauw

After spending two nights in Luang Prabang, I was eager to get back out onto the road and continue my ride through the beautiful Lao cou...