Jeffrey Werner ’08 (Seoul, South Korea) moved halfway around the world to South Korea to develop his teaching craft.
Jeffrey, a secondary education/social studies grad, has been teaching reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, science, conversation and speaking classes to preschool, 1st, 2nd and 4th grade students at Kangnam Poly Institute in Seoul, South Korea since April 2011. He teaches 100 percent in English and is amazed how quickly the Korean students comprehend his lessons.
“The preschoolers who didn’t speak English in March now tell me about their weekend completely in English,” said Jeffrey. “And the 4th graders write stronger English essays than some high school students in the United States.”
When Jeffrey began looking into teaching abroad he utilized the Career Development Center at York College. They helped him develop a resume and provided him with a jumping-off point for his job search. At first, South Korea was not his top choice for travel, however, one day he came across a recruiter on Dave’s ESL café. He sold him on South Korea with his connections to Kangnam Poly Institute, and after living in York for 24 years, Jeffrey was ready for a change.
“The scariest part was on the plane, having left home behind without knowing what exactly lay ahead of me,” he said.
However, when Jeffrey arrived at Incheon Airport in South Korea and drove with his recruiter for an hour-and-a-half to Seoul, he knew he made the right decision. He works with 30 other foreigners (non-Koreans) and created his own “little western group of friends,” easing the transition into South Korea. His Korean friends are helping him learn the difficult Korean language.
“I can now hold extremely simple conversations,” said Jeffrey. “I can even make a bad joke here and there in Korean!”
Jeffrey has found that teaching abroad is both challenging and fulfilling. He is thankful for a supportive family and Skype, because without the two, living out his dream would be more difficult.
“Thinking about my time here, it feels surreal,” he said. “It’s almost like I’m on vacation, except I do have a real job and I get paid.”
Thinking back on his time at York College, Jeffrey is thankful for one of his professors, Peter Levy, for the interest he took in him.
"His door was always open,” he said. “He encouraged me when I shared my ideas of traveling and teaching abroad.”
Jeffrey advises current education students looking for an experience (they won’t regret or forget) to think about teaching abroad before “settling down” and taking a job in the United States.
By Brittany Ryan '13, Office of Communications intern
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