#TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Jill Dobbe is an international educator and published author who writes about her experiences living and working in schools and countries around the world. 

Jill Dobbe. #TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

She is originally from Wisconsin and currently lives in her seventh country, Honduras, with her husband, Dan, and her Yorkie-Poo, Mickey. While working as an elementary principal, Jill also travels, does scrap booking, reads obsessively, photographs the beautiful countries and people of Latin America, and muddles her way through the Spanish language. Jill loves her life as an international educator, and most days, feels like she is living her dream. Her two published books are available on Amazon.

Kids, Camels, and Cairo. From Jill Dobbe: #TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!
Here We Are & There We Go. From Jill Dobbe: #TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

What motivated your decision to teach abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?  
After I graduated college with a B.S. in Elementary Education, I began looking into teaching overseas. My husband, also an educator, liked the idea and we went to our first overseas hiring fair where we got hired to teach on Guam. I began my career as an international educator way back in 1990. For 10 years my husband, children, and I lived in four different countries. We moved back to the U.S. in 2000 and stayed for six years. After my son left for college, my husband and I took our daughter with us back overseas where she did her senior year in Cairo, Egypt. I am now living and working in my 7th country, Honduras.

Seeing the Sphinx. Jill Dobbe: #TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

How did you find your job? What resources did you use?
We found our first job at a small hiring fair in the Midwest. Guam and Hawaii were there and we decided to interview with them. Guam needed elementary and science teachers, which we were both qualified for, so we signed on. Since then, we have applied to the many overseas teaching websites that are out there and attended their fairs. Some of the big ones are www.tieonline.com, www.iss.edu, and www.searchassociates.com.

What was your experience like? Can you share some favorite memories - and challenges?
My best memories are from when our children were young and I watched them learn and speak Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, acquire friends and classmates from around the world, and most importantly, learn that color and race don’t matter. 

There were daily challenges we had to get used to such as, setting up a new house and trying to get internet and cable without knowing how to speak the local language, driving on opposite sides of the roads, living without electricity or water for hours or days, and being so far away from our families. Thankfully, it is so much easier to stay in touch with friends and families back home through Skype, etc. When I first left the country there were no computers or cellphones and we had to rely on long distant phone calls and snail mail. (It was a long time ago and just writing about it, I feel old.)

#TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your teaching experience abroad?  
I don’t feel I’ve changed all that much, other than being happy and satisfied with my life choices. Maybe it’s just age, but I feel good about the lifestyle I’ve chosen and am doing what I always wanted to do, and that’s a good feeling. I have also become a published author as a result of my travels and lifestyle. In addition, I enjoy photographing women in their cultural regalia and my photos have been published in an online magazine. Those are two pursuits, or hobbies of mine, that I never even considered before I started traveling.

#TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?
Having been an overseas educator for so long, I am always willing to give advice or answer questions from teachers who are just starting out. My husband and I have made our share of mistakes and learned from them, so we feel that maybe, we can prevent others from making the same ones. Also, now we know more about what to look for in a school and wouldn’t just go anywhere. 

We are both administrators now and I believe that teaching overseas for all those years helped us to move up into our roles.

#TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

Any advice for teachers thinking about working overseas? What are some highlights or things that you gained or changed your perspective?
Some countries are harder to live in than others, but it’s important to always keep an open mind, respect the culture you are now living in, and remain positive. Greetings seem to be so much more important in other cultures than in the U.S., and even if you don’t speak the language, attempt to learn some simple greetings, which will earn you respect from the locals. Get out and explore whenever you can. You will learn so much about the culture you are living in and don’t mind the stares; the locals are always curious about foreigners.

#TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
I am much more globally aware and more concerned about Human Rights around the world. I lived in Egypt where I saw women treated as sex objects. I lived in West Africa, and now Honduras, where the majority of the population lives in poverty. It made me realize how difficult some people have it, but that we all basically want the same things in life: food, shelter, family, and safety.

#TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
I would like all educators who want to go overseas with their children to know that it is absolutely doable! If you want to teach overseas, you can still do it with children in tow, and it will be the best education they will ever have. Their eyes will be opened to new languages, new foods, worldly sites, and children from many different cultures.

Your children will grow and mature into adults who are more tolerant, empathetic, and more caring citizens of the world. 

A cow in India. From #TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!


#TeachAbroadBecause ...it’s the best of all lifestyles!

All photos courtesy and copyright Jill Dobbe