I wouldn’t say there’s no going back, that would be somewhat melodramatic, but I would say that I’ve now taken the first step. The first step being actually applying to Learn4Life for a TEFL post at their Siem Reap based NGO in Cambodia. Next step. The expectant waiting.
I’ve just hit send on an email to which was attached my CV, covering letter, and scans of all my relevant qualifications (including one of my 26 year old TEFL qualification, but not the Busy Bees donation certificate). As a Careers Adviser, I’m pretty confident I do know how to sell myself. The only thing I’ve done which goes against the grain, is acknowledge my experience of TEFL is a bit limited. I’d normally say don’t draw attention to shortcomings in any application, but in this instance I don’t want to travel half way across the world to take up a position based on a misconception. I also think if Vietnam is anything to go by, they may be disproportionately impressed by the fact I’ve got experience of working and lecturing in Higher Eduction. That’s fine, I can live with that, and it makes me sufficiently confident to ask questions about support and resources for teachers on arrival.
Next week is a big public holiday in Cambodia for Khmer New Year. That’s OK, time for me to think as well.
So now I am on a mental voyage of imagining myself there and wondering when is best time to go. They have four terms a year, and require a minimum 3 month commitment. There is an induction period at the start of each term, but I don’t know when that takes place. Whether it is part of the start of term, or whether I’d need to get there a couple of weeks earlier. This would make quite a difference for me. Fortunately, they give term dates etc on their website. Learn4Life has been really helpful with this.
The next term is therefore 4th July. Now I could in principle be there by then. Problem is, if I had to go the week before I would miss the Round Sheffield Run. This is my favourite running event ever. I’d really like to do it before departing to pastures new. Plus I have a friend with whom I’ve agreed to do it in fancy dress!
On a more serious point, the July term isn’t the best time of year to arrive in Cambodia. It will be hot, hot, hot and wet too. Might be better for me to enjoy the summer in the UK, get myself fit, polish up my grammar, and then go out to Cambodia for Sept/October when it’s marginally cooler, and I’ve got used to the heat a bit from a UK summer. Another plus about the later start date is that there is a public holiday in the middle of it, so I think less likelihood of burning out – though of course a shorter term might mean they cram in more teaching hours in individual weeks… I’m not sure what the public holiday is for, but something of national cultural significance for sure – probably the water festival, so wonderful to coincide with whatever that is. I’d also most likely end up in Cambodia for Christmas, which would be fab. I’m not great at Christmas, so new country, new people, freedom to do something completely different appeals very much indeed. I’m happy spending Christmas on my own, but feel this isn’t acceptable to others which makes the whole thing really stressful if I’m still in the UK.
Of course, all this rather assumes that whoever is responsible for teacher recruitment over there will want to snap me up, but I feel strangely optimistic on this front. I had the same feeling with the Vietnam job when I saw it, I just knew I’d end up there and so I did, very quickly, within a few weeks. It is probably true that where you have self-belief, even if misguided, then it’s quite likely that will influence the outcome. But hey ho, time will tell.
Self-fulfilling prophecies and pictures of ants aside, I do still have a gnawing fear about the health of family members whilst I’m away, well my mum specifically. That one is out of my control entirely. I can only keep making my plans, and hope that my anxiety is unfounded. Worst case scenario, I will have a return ticket and I’d fly back home. Still, positive thinking eh? Positive thinking. Surely lightning won’t strike twice?