August 9, 2010

A question posed recently to me is, “Is it more important WHERE you live, or WHAT you do for a living?”

Well, for those of you who are a bit slow out there, let’s start by saying this: 1) I live in Taiwan, and 2) I teach English as a second language.

Considering that there are over 285 countries connected with the United Nations, and of those, over 260 speak English as first or second language, being an English teacher is very dependent on where you live.

There is no advantage to teaching English to people in English-speaking countries. The pay is not great and the working conditions would be no different than working in any other industry in your home country.

However, that being said, the where you live is just as important, in my opinion, as important as the job you do. There are so many opportunities and jobs and careers out there in our big world. Some are geographic-specific, while others are not.

Being in the education field, for the most part, matters not where you are geographically. Of course, as in language teaching, may require one to move to another location. Others, such as sanitation or emergency care work, matters not.

If one is trained in forestry or mining, does it really make sense for that person to move to the prairies? If one is trained in farming, would it really make sense to move to the high mountains?

Everyone choses a job or career more for personal reasons than not. As we grow up, we tend to take positions working in restaurants or fast-food outlets, bars, hotels, etc., as these types of positions allow one to work and yet still attend school.

Once we graduate from school, the whole idea of living, raising a family, or just wanting to do the same thing for the remainder of our lives enters our thoughts.

I agree that at times, travel or relocation may be necessary in our line of work. I have several friends who are with the Canadian Armed Forces. These people are posted to different locations around Canada, and at times, around the world. Is this fair to their families? Is it fair to them?

The way I look at it is, they chose this line of work. Their spouses knew the line of work they were in. To complain about this lifestyle is a mute subject. I do feel that it may be unfair to the children of these people.

I know from my experience, that moving from school to school is difficult. Trying to make new friends, and not having these friends the following year is not easy. Just as you get comfortable, begin to get into the groove of things, suddenly you find out that you will be moving.

Another thing that is very intriguing to me, are the people who come to a place like Taiwan to teach English. I must refer to the guys who come here, because this happens more often than not.

Many guys come to Taiwan, not only to teach to English, but to find a mate. I suppose that is not wrong, but it does call in question their real motive for being here.

I came to Taiwan to teach English. Period. I am not here to meet anyone. I am not here to party. I came here to pass on my knowledge to the next generation here in Taiwan.

I have known, over my 9 years here, too many guys where their first objective is to party. Second objective, meet someone. Third and perhaps somewhat unexpected objective, is to raise a family.

I have personally met about 5 little kids who appear to be foreign children (aka English-speaking), but lo and behold, they don’t understand a word of English. I find that a bit surprising, since one of their parents is an English teacher!

I suppose that goes along with knowing people in Canada, who are from the East (Hong Kong, China, Singapore, etc.), yet do not speak their mother tongue.

Sometimes parents don’t really think too much about how the children will react if they have to relocate to another location. Children can adjust and bounce back. They’ll make new friends in their new location. It’s the parents that have to provide for the family.

Is location or what you do more important? You’d have to talk that over with your family. For those that don’t really have a choice of location, you must convince the remainder of the family that it is a good choice. Not only for yourself, but for the family as a whole.

For those, like me, that don’t have a family to worry about, you have to decide whether it is good for your career or not. Would moving to Taiwan for a year a two be beneficial to your career as whole? Only you know that answer.

I know for me personally, teaching English in Taiwan has probably been one of the best decisions of my life. I have never enjoyed a job so much.

Unlike something my father mentioned a long time ago, I DO feel that you must enjoy your work. If that work takes you half-way around the world, then so be it.

Location and choice of work must go hand-in-hand.


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