Below are notes from the field by Shelly Reed, a Belmont English major and recent graduate who spent time in Greece teaching English:
This past school year I received the Hellenic American Educational Foundation Teaching Fellowship, which awarded me the incredible opportunity to teach English in Greece. My placement was at Athens College, and consisted of teaching advanced high school students Shakespeare, running creative writing workshops for the literary journal, and coaching duet acting for the forensics team. As a recent Belmont graduate wondering about my career path, this was the perfect chance to discover what teaching is all about.
The fellowship provided housing, a stipend, great health insurance, a transportation pass, and meals at the school. It also provided a free Greek language class. The stipend was enough to allow for travel and I took full advantage of exploring the Greek islands!
Not only did the fellowship offer a lot of professional experience, including valuable ESL experience, but it also changed me profoundly. While living abroad is exotic and exciting, it is also fraught with challenges. I now know what it is like to be a minority, to not speak the language, and to be truly disconnected from home. All of my time in Greece---the exciting times and the challenging times led me to a richer understanding of humanity, one that I believe I could not have gotten any other way.
So to those of you dancing with the decision about whether or not to teach abroad, my advice is to go for it! I guarantee the experience will teach you something, like not to eat oranges off the trees in Athens!
- Shelly Reed