Sarah Snyder, from Issues 1 and 2, has traveled to the Far East and back–and discovered a true passion for teaching English as a foreign language. She shares with us her experience:
Grandma always said, “Everything in moderation—even moderation.” As a junior at ASU, taking 18 credits a semester, being the Reading Series Coordinator for Superstition Review, working at the Polytechnic campus Writing Center, serving as the President of ASU’s Devil Dancesport ballroom dancing team, and volunteering as a Peer Advisor for the School of Applied Arts and Sciences, I was no stranger to overextending myself, to going deeper than I could swim back up in time for air. When I graduated in 2009, I made a strategic career move and took a job in Japan teaching English in two high schools. It was only strategic because I couldn’t even get anything close to a job in the United States. Luckily for me, this job helped me realize what I really wanted to do with my life: create positive cultural exchange and communication. This lesson came to me through all of the artists that I coordinated through SR, the students that I worked with in the Writing Center, as the President of a student organization, as a Peer Advisor and in Japan.
After a year in the Land of the Rising Sun, I moved back home to the Valley of the Sun. My parents were happy to have me home in the flesh instead of pixelated and robotic on Skype. They were perfectly content to keep me there, but I was soon restless. I needed something to keep me happy, healthy and productive, but I experienced the same depression that my father remembered as an adolescent. He told me his story from the 1970s when he was expressing the same feeling of helplessness to his grandfather. To that, Great-Grandpa Krebbs said, “There is always work for those who want it.” To this day, my father doesn’t know whether or not that was a challenge or a jab, but I took it as a challenge. I pulsed all of my networks for careers in academia for months. I applied to everything. I also kept myself busy taking Spanish and Japanese at the local community colleges to keep my morale up. Around month six, I was called for my first interview. It was my chance to vie for my dream job of being an academic advisor! At the age of 24 (my lucky Japanese year of the Rabbit) I was hired as the youngest member of an academic advising team with my mentors from undergrad as my supervisors.
After some serious soul-searching, I had to sacrifice my dream job in favor of the English and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) programs at Northern Arizona University, where I am happily immersed in concurrent graduate programs and teaching freshman composition for native and non-native speakers of English. I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Composition and Linguistics in the near future. This, I believe, will help me bring positive cultural exchange and communication to more people than I could have ever hoped while being one teacher working with just 30 students at a time in a sea of millions. It will be more work that I have probably ever had in my life—but I also have itty-bitty daydreams of being the President of the United States as well, so bring it on.
As I look back now, all I can say is that Grandma was right. “Everything in moderation–even moderation.” If I could go back in time with all of this 20/20 retrospect, I wouldn’t change one thing. Now, I am making sure that I give just as much as I have received, and these last sentences are little karmic presents for anyone who wants them: In order to survive in the world that we live in today, concentration and positive thinking are the keys to getting what the universe thinks you deserve. Nobody gets anywhere anymore by stepping on people. We’re in the age of Google, people! Also, it really DOES matter who you know and how you treat the people around you…No one ever knows who they will be interacting with in the future. Network, network, NETWORK! Oh, and always brush your teeth (another Grandma quote).