Moving to Thailand and going through a company to find a teaching position sounds like a good idea until you arrive and see what’s really about to go down. The program said we wouldn’t be placed in major cities, which made sense because the major cities aren’t the places where Native English Speakers (NES) are needed. NES are needed in rural areas that have limited access to resources, teachers and opportunities. Initially I wanted to teach third graders in the north of Thailand and I wanted to be 2-hours away from Chiang Mai. I didn’t care where I was located in the north, as long as it was close to Chiang Mai. That dream was quickly shut down when I was told that my program didn’t place people in Chiang Mai.
About a week after the initial meeting, my friend warned me to be firm about what I was looking for in a placement. I mean, I did pay quite a bit of money to be here, so I should be getting something I sort of like, right? The placement team offered me a position at a school in Phayao, a province in the north, where I would teach kindergarteners. I was told Phayao was an hour and a half away from Chiang Mai, and while the placement wasn’t perfect, I was willing to let go of the other requests because my proximity was met. After some research I kept finding various answers as to how far Phayao truly was from Chiang Mai. I eventually discovered it was actually three and a half hours away. The main reason I was upset was because as a black woman, it’s scary going places when you’re unsure of how the people will react to you. As a black, solo, female traveler I prefer to stay in touristy areas because the chances of seeing someone like me is high. Not only will I see another black face, but my black face and my afro are much easier to digest by people who have seen black faces before.]After they gave me my bogus placement I decided to take matters into my own hands. I said forget this, I’m going back to Chiang Mai and finding a job on my own. I did it before in Vietnam and I’m sure I can do it again. The job hunt started out great because May is the beginning of the school year in Thailand. In the beginning I had a slew of people interested and interviews lined up, but I wasn’t in Chiang Mai yet. Thailand is a simple country. They don’t really do email exchanges, and they really only want to talk if you can walk through the door the next day for a meeting. Before leaving for Chiang Mai everything looked great, but when I arrived in Chiang Mai my Gmail was silent. The people I was in contact with had already found someone else, or they were flat out ignoring me. I spent ten days playing cat and mouse with different schools and English companies who would invite me to their schools just to tell me they found someone else. My negative thoughts began creeping in and I couldn’t shake the fear of failing. I was petrified that I would have come all the way out here and fail at what I planned to do. I was so nervous that I didn’t speak to my mom for a few days and she called asking me what was up. I told her about my stress and nervousness and she asked me what I expected. I said, “Oh, well I guess I expect to receive the job on the spot. That’s normally how it happens!” My mom laughed in my ear and explained how unusual that was. She told me to keep looking and not to worry. She said waiting to hear back from a job was part of the process and that I’d find the perfect job at the perfect time – boy was she right.
Within a span of two days I had two interviews for two really great schools. The one school interviewed me on Wednesday and the other school interviewed me on Friday. Both schools were great for totally different reasons. One school was a private Catholic school, which meant I would get off for Christmas, it came with free accommodation and free lunch. The other school was a Thai private school with an amazing campus and I would be teaching my preferred age of third graders. I waited a few days and on the same day within the same hour I was offered both positions! After wishing and hoping I could get a job it felt like the universe was finally working with me. In the end I chose to work with the private Catholic school because of it’s proximity to where I live. It’s been a few weeks and I feel like I’ve absolutely already made the right decision.