It Girl | HALEY WARE
I am so happy to have stumbled across Haley while lurking on one of my favorite Facebook groups! She is teaching english abroad, something that I have always been interested in and curious about. Haley shares her experiences and background with us.
Name: Haley Ware
Job Title/Company: ESL Teacher
Education Background: B.A in International Studies with a double minor in Women and Gender Studies and Anthropology
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I grew up in small town North Carolina. A self identified fat, feminist lesbian. I have a wonderful Taiwanese partner. I have lived in Asia for the past 4 years teaching English. I have strong passions for nature, animals, art and creativity, language and I am huge book nerd. I am the black sheep of my little southern family and though its hard, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I really just love helping people and sharing my knowledge and ideas.
2. What sparked your interest in teaching abroad?
I was never interested in teaching per say, but I knew I needed to get out of North Carolina so I started to apply for jobs and ended up applying to a recruiting agency with ties to South Korea. I taught there for a year, loved it- but didn’t quite love Korea, so I tried Taiwan and found a fit here. I have been here for three years and don’t foresee myself leaving. I am actually on a track to get my permanent resident card.
3. Who are you most influenced by?
I think I am most influenced by my mother. She is my best friend and biggest supporter.
4. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
My very first job? I worked at Subway when I was 16-- but my first full time job, outside of college, wasn’t until I got to Korea. I worked there for a year.
5. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
Aside from actually graduating university, I think moving to Asia is at the top of the list. It all happened quickly once I got accepted at the school. Before I knew it, I was boarding a plane by myself to go across the world- mind you I had never been across the ocean before. The farthest I had ever traveled was Mexico. I left everything familiar behind. I had no friends or family waiting on me when I arrived. Did I mention I went alone? I had no idea what to expect, I didn’t speak the language and only had the address to my school and the number of my recruiter in Korea. I survived that first year and it has made me so much stronger.
6. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
My initial goals with teaching was to actually just teach for a year to have that experience and save a bit of money, but I quickly found passion as an educator. I tend to work with concepts, crafts and visuals.
7. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from your work?
To have patience. People learn at all different speeds and in a variety of ways.
8. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I hope to have my permanent resident card in Taiwan. Right now that is my main goal, along with improving my Mandarin Chinese and getting back to writing. So in 5 years I hope to be more fluent in Mandarin and to hopefully start, generally, writing again.
9. What is a typical day like for you?
Wake up and be at work at 8 teaching until 5:30 then home to my partner to spend time with her and relax, head to a yoga class or grab dinner with a few friends. Depends on the day of the week.
10. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
Being from the west and having to conform to Asian education systems. I currently teach in a private high school and my students have homeroom classes of 50-53 students. Education in Asia isn’t really education at this level. It’s more self study this content and listen to the teacher explain it lecture style. Try teaching English as a second language lecture style. This is just one, out of many examples, that I can share.
11. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
One of my colleagues always tells me to “deal with the issue and not the ego” . I have this on a slip of paper attached to my laptop. It is my saving grace some days.
12. When do you get your best ideas?
I tend to get my best ideas when I am listening to music and I am completely relaxed.
13. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
All I can think of is the multiple times I never stood up for myself for fear of failing and losing my job. I always kick myself when I realize what I have done and I don’t know if I have completely learned from it yet, or if I am still in the process of learning.
14. How do you unwind?
Wine, youtube, netflix and a good blanket - I do love a bit of online shopping
15. What would you tell someone else who is interested in teaching abroad?
DO IT! Seriously, even if it’s for just a year. It will expand your world. It is tough to adjust to, especially if teaching was never an option for you - but it’s worth it.
16. What do you hope people take away from your story?
I hope people will take away that it’s ok to be scared and still do it. I got on my flight to Korea and I was terrified. I spoke no Korean, I had nobody there to get me at the airport, I had no idea where my school or apartment was. Let your fear guide you because in the end you will miss some amazing opportunities.
17. Anything we missed that you would like to share?
I find that writing postcards is a lost art and I love sending and receiving them!