#TeachAbroadBecause … We’re BETTER TOGETHER

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Megan has a Master's degree in teaching, and uses her own unique coaching methodology developed through her concentrated study, 7+ years of intentional personal development, and 15+ years of teaching experience. Megan has a passion to help people maximize peace, joy, and fulfillment in life. Sometimes that person is a student, sometimes a coaching client; the passion remains the same.

Megan Jeffries: #TeachAbroadBecause … We’re BETTER TOGETHER

What motivated your decision to teach abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?
My decision was motivated by personal desire to experience a country that I had had a taste of and liked, as well as a strong belief that it was where God was guiding me to go at the time. It’s really cool to look back now at 3 very distinct experiences that prefaced the decision. In my experience, if we want direction and guidance, God readily provides it but it comes in subtle ways. 

6 months into the experience, our group visited one of Taiwan’s outer islands for a week long project. I fell in love with the island and people, and let my group leader know when I re-signed that I would love to be part of the group placed here in Kinmen. I was with that organization for 7 years before getting my teaching license and MEd and transitioning to being hired directly by the government. This is the place I’ve been for all but 1 of the years I’ve taught in Taiwan.

How did you find your job? What resources did you use?
This opportunity came to me, rather than me so much seeking it out. I visited Taiwan in 2001 for a 3-week trip, and really liked the experience. Through an organization I was connected with, an opportunity came along to go teach with their Taiwan partners non-profit foundation. I took the ESL training required and applied. The first year I applied, the spots were all full and I was not accepted. A year later, my dad was at one of the conferences held by them and came across a table recruiting teachers again for the project. Unbeknownst to me, he signed my name to the list. I was contacted (for me, out of the blue) and offered a spot. I felt extremely nervous at first that I wasn’t qualified, but a quick talk with the recruiter eased my fears and they turned into anticipation and excitement. My first commitment was for 6 months. I came in August of 2003 with the aim to stay a year if I liked the first 6 months. 15 years and a Masters in Education later, I’m still here teaching!  

Megan Jeffries: #TeachAbroadBecause … We’re BETTER TOGETHER

What was your experience like? Can you share some favorite memories - and challenges?
This is more of a “I should write a book answer.” Every time a 1st grader gives me a hug, it is an absolute favorite. Just the other day, one of my teeny tinys decided that zipping his jacket up over his head and poking his arm in and out of the head hole was what he was going to do for class that day. There is SO much to see and experience here in Taiwan, from night markets to hot springs tucked away on the other side of a mountain. So many amazing connections with wonderful people, so much discovery and adventure…there was that time we were on a moped camping trip around the island, and we had to stop because the road was eroded and a group of construction guys fixed it and waved us through right then…but not before one of them called my brother “Michael Jordan” …those quiet times at the ocean communing with God and nature I wouldn’t trade for anything.  The challenges wow …  I really could go on and on  … they haven’t stopped, lol. Just this past week, I struggled to communicate my address to the delivery man … it was a big ‘to do’ … always an adventure, but I like it!

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your teaching experience abroad?
Absolutely.  I believe we’re all continually changing, and for sure our individual experiences, locations, etc. have a lot to do with the metamorphosis. I feel the most significant and meaningful change in me is how it expanded my mind and view of the world. That we are all one across all cultures; we all share an amazing bond of humanity. I love how small and intimate the world seems after traveling and experiencing vastly differing cultures. It’s an experience that has cultivated an empathy that I would never have been able to have otherwise. I feel really grateful for getting to have it.

Listing all the skills I acquired abroad would be quite a long list. I moved from my parents home here, so the majority of my grown-up years has been here! As related to teaching abroad, I would say the best skill are those that the shift in perspective on language and communication gave me. We put SO much emphasis on the actual words, when that’s only a very small percentage of actual communication. It has allowed me to cultivate heart connection and learn communication skills in a whole new way.

Megan Jeffries: #TeachAbroadBecause … We’re BETTER TOGETHER

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? 
Absolutely! I wouldn’t be who I am today without this experience. Periodically, I wonder what would’ve happened if I had taken a different path. Like what would have happened if I never came here or if I had left earlier? There are so very many variables and paths we could take in our lives, it’s astonishing how much choice we really do have. 

One huge thing was the government here agreed to pay for 80% of my MEd, and in exchange I would be contracted to teach here for 2 years. I don’t know that I’d ever have become a licensed teacher if I had never taught here. It’s very cool to me that they went on to make this a yearly scholarship and awarded teachers with it for two or three more years. I love that I was a part of making that happen.

Any advice for teachers thinking about working overseas? What are some highlights or things that you gained or changed your perspective?
I feel it’s difficult to offer blanket advice, because each person and situation is so unique, but if I had to offer something it would be this - go in with a wide open mind and wide open heart, cultivate extreme flexibility and patience, be gentle with yourself and others, smile and laugh as much as possible, learn the language, connect with the locals, connect with the locals, connect with the locals!

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?
This is a great question. My friend described it this way - there’s blue people and then there’s red people (no politics implied here, lol). We’re “purple people.” I feel I will probably always feel I have two homes, no homes, and everywhere is home for the rest of my life to a certain degree. The same with language. I guess the best way to describe it is it shifted my perception of who my tribe is; yes I’m an American, but don’t quite feel I totally fit in in the USA anymore. Yes, I’ve lived here the majority of my adult life, but don’t quite feel I totally fit in here, either. It’s a beautiful paradox ,and is really what you choose to make it to a certain degree.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
The world is smaller (and kinder) than you think! 
Don’t let fear hold you back from pursuing what’s in your heart!

Megan Jeffries: #TeachAbroadBecause … We’re BETTER TOGETHER

For ESL related questions contact Megan: mkjefferies[at]gmail.com
Megan can be found @
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YouTube: Megan K Coaching

Megan Jeffries: #TeachAbroadBecause … We’re BETTER TOGETHER

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Megan K. Jefferies

 

 

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