New Teacher Tales: Rudine and Marshall
In our New Teacher Tales series, we interview people teaching English abroad about how they started out and what advice they would give to others thinking about it.
This is our first post from a couple! Rudine and Marshall are from Namibia and currently teach in Laos. They tell us all about how they moved over to Asia to teach and their experiences.
Where do you work now?
Rudine: I’m currently teaching at Heathfield International School in Vientiane, Laos. I’m a foundation 2 teacher, I teach 4 to 5-year-olds. I have a class size of 20 students. Our day starts at around 8 and finishes at 2:30 pm. We follow the Oxford curriculum, so all of our classes/ subjects are in English.
Marshall: I’m working at Oscar International School in Vientiane, Laos. I’m an ESL teacher to absolute beginner-level secondary students.
What’s the best thing about living in Vientiane?
Rudine: The best part of living in Laos is the slow-paced life, kind people, and healthy lifestyle that I get to have in Laos. I have time for myself and time to pursue hobbies.
Marshall: For me, it’s the easy relaxed lifestyle as well as the safety, as Laos is one of the safest tourist destinations in South-East Asia.
Why did you become an English teacher?
Rudine: I had been teaching for a while before moving to Asia. I was an early years teacher for the last 8 years. Furthermore, I came to a point in my career where I felt that I’ve reached the ceiling and I wanted something more. That’s how my teaching abroad dream started off. Asia is rich in culture and absolutely majestic, so my husband and I wanted to move here for a year or two, but at this point in time we don’t see ourselves moving any time soon.
Marshall: In Namibia I was a logistics coordinator and warehouse manager. It’s always been my dream to move abroad, and after meeting my wife, we realized that our dreams were quite similar. That’s when I started doing research on what would be the best way for me to follow my dream and still maintain a career. Teaching English was the answer. Almost two years later since we embarked on this journey, I’m still very happy we decided to do it.
Where have you taught English?
Rudine: I have taught English in Namibia, Thailand, and now Laos.
Marshall: I’ve taught in Thailand and now I’m teaching in Laos.
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since you became an English teacher?
Rudine: Teaching is the gift that always keeps on giving. Every day at school is an experience. I love that through teaching, I learn way more than I teach. I love seeing how my students start and how they grow, progress, and blossom into greatness. It’s one of the best experiences of being a teacher.
Marshall: Apart from the fact that it’s extremely rewarding when you see a student’s face when they start to understand something that you taught them, I believe I’ve truly found myself through teaching. It has really opened up my mind to who and what I really am. But most of all, I have grown as a person in ways that I never imagined was possible.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you since you became an English teacher?
Rudine: I’m a firm believer that all our experiences are predestined and shape us into what we are supposed to be, so I don’t hold on to too many negative experiences. I try to focus on the good and appreciate what the bad has taught me
Marshall: I can’t really say there was one specific experience that was extremely bad for me, because I believe that in the end, everything works together for the greater good.
Tell us a bizarre story that’s happened to you as an English teacher.
Rudine: I don’t really have a story about a bizarre experience. We had a very bad start in Thailand when we first arrived because the agent we signed with was not that good to us. What was promised in the contract and interview was not delivered. There was no one to pick us up at the airport and no assistance in looking for accommodation close to school. No assistance with our work permits, non whatsoever. All of this was promised in the contract. We ended up leaving this specific institution and found a better school.
Marshall: So when we flew from Namibia to Thailand I couldn’t get a working visa. Due to this, I started working on my tourist visa. On the second day at my new school, all the teachers wore their special government officials look alike uniforms. Not having been in Thailand that long and not knowing any of the teachers, I assumed that they were all immigration officials visiting the school to inspect the documentation of all the foreign teachers at the school. This freaked me out completely.
Is there anything you would change about your time as an English teacher?
Rudine: No, not really, as I believe that everything that happens shapes us. It needed to happen to get us to this point in our lives. We are truly happy in Vientiane, and we’ve learned so much on the way.
Marshall: No, nothing. With all the ups and downs this has truly been a life-altering experience up to now.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting into English teaching?
Rudine: Firstly, you need to come for the right reasons, you need to want to teach. Be open-minded to all cultures and traditions outside your own. Teaching in Asia is not just about backpacking through Asia, you need to be willing to give it your all in the classroom too. Be open to the good and bad of living and working in a foreign country.
Marshall: Before taking this leap of faith really ensure that you know yourself. Also, be 100% clear with yourself on what it is you want to gain out of this experience and how far you’re willing to go to get what you want.
If you want to follow Rudine and Marshall in their teaching and their travels, they have a great Instagram account namibian_traveling_teachers