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TEFL - Peace Corps vs. teaching solo

 
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chelsea



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 8:39 pm    Post subject: TEFL - Peace Corps vs. teaching solo Reply with quote

Hello,

I've spent a long time looking into teaching/work opportunities overseas and have since been offered a TEFL assignment with the Peace Corps in Romania. I am wondering about the pro's and cons of teaching TEFL with the PC as opposed to finding employment on my own. I am considering teaching english in Japan.
Basically, I just want international experience, but am wondering if anyone out there knows what the career benefits (if there are any) would be with either option.

Thanks very much for any opinions!!!
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

chelsea,

I live and work in Japan. To answer your questions, I'll need to ask you a few for starters. It's hard to answer your question about "benefits" of working in Japan until I know what kind of job you are qualified for.

What is your nationality? Age?
What is your college background/degree status?

If you want any info on Japan, feel free to ask here or by email.
GHILL18299@aol.com
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2003 11:24 pm    Post subject: The Pros and Cons of the Peace Corps Reply with quote

First and foremost,you will make a LOT more money teaching on your own(in Japan) than teaching for the Peace Corps in Romania.Some other places(eastern Europe,most of Latin America,etc) you will make about the same,maybe a little more than the Peace Corps.The Peace Corps assignment usually pays a monthly stipend,usually just enough to live on.

What are your priorities?If your main priority is making money...well, you should forget about the Peace Corps and go teach in Japan.After saying that,if money is NOT your main priority,then there are some advantages to the Peace Corps,especially for someone who has not taught overseas before.They provide excellent training and excellent medical support(they are afraid not to,since they have been sued in the past...but anyway,the support is there,for whatever reasons).Also,after your two years(they ask for a two year commitment),they provide an EOS(End of Service ) allowance of a few thousand dollars...so you will not be broke and high and dry when you get out of the Corps.There is also some scholarship assistance if you want to go to grad school.You also get a few pointsadvantage if you apply for federal civil service jobs,if you want to do thatwhen you get out.

So,if you go the PC route,do not expect much money(after all ,it is basically a volunteer organization),but you will have an organization behind you....this can be very important sometimes...especially if you happen to get sick overseas.A big disadvantage is that the Peace Corps organization(the admin bureaucracy) is often TOO controlling....and they have been known to play a few little games and trya few little tricks now and then....

All said,though,you might really want to consider your opportunity to go to Romania with them.I know some people who would jump at the chance.Despite the fact they are a volunteer organization....not everyone gets in....they have a lot of applicants.....and they can pick and choose to a certain extent.

I was in the Peace Corps years ago....some hassle and hardships,but I will NEVER forget it.If money is not a big priority with you right now,I say go for it.You will probably have a great time....one that you will never forget.Seize the moment.Then you can always go and teach in Japan or wherever after you get out of the Peace Corps.Best of luck.Have fun. Smile
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11694
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 5:02 am    Post subject: peace corps Reply with quote

You will be in a large bureaucratic organization if you join the Peace Corps, BUT you will looked after (or "controlled"). You will get some effective training. If you chose to continue in EFL then you should find it easier to get a real job. Ig you go back to the States for a "real career' potential employers may look on your two years with the PC in a more favourable light than 2 years fooling around under your own steam.
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chelsea



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 7:33 pm    Post subject: thanks Reply with quote

thanks so much for the resonse. to anwer your questions Glenski, I am a 26 year old, American, female with a bachelors degree in Fine Arts and an academic certificate in Design and Technology.
to be honest, i'm looking into working abroad for the experience, i'm not worried about money. like a lot of people here in the states, i also want to get away from the bad ecomony, and take time out before going back to school.
i'm interested in teaching in japan because, from what i gather, its modern, clean, and has an interesting language and culture that i would love to learn more about.

i was also really excited about joining the peace corps for the international experience, but when i was offered a TEFL assignment, I started thinking that perhaps it would be "better" to teach in japan on my own and not have the two year pc contract, not have to deal with their rules and regulations, and be able to decide where I would go. I know the peace corps sends you to a location, sometimes with out much concern for your interests. but, i also know there are a lot of good things about the PC, the support for one, and all the other benefits mentioned in that previous post.

I know, either way I go, I will end up going back to school for my masters degree. I have been wondering what would look better on my resume, and what am I actually going to do for a job when I get back? My computer skills will be rusty (i was working in graphic design) and outdated. What would I be qualified to do?

i'm having a horrible time making a decision.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

chelsea,

You are eligible for a regular work visa, which may last one or three years, depending on the whims of immigration. To get this, you have to hav a sponsor (employer), who files the paperwork for you. Your options are to find the few places that recruit overseas for jobs in Japan (NOVA, GEOS, AEON, ECC, and the JET program), or to come here with a bundle of money (USZ$4000-5000) and look for work.

Standard jobs in Japan pay about 250,000 yen/month, and depending on your lifestyle, rent, and location, you can expect to save about US$500 per month (unless you have bills back home to pay).

Quote:
i'm interested in teaching in japan because, from what i gather, its modern, clean, and has an interesting language and culture that i would love to learn more about.


That pretty much hits the nail on the head. Of course, smaller towns won't be as clean and modern, but that goes without saying anywhere in the world.
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chuckie



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 11:02 pm    Post subject: peace corps vs other options Reply with quote

Hello Chelsea,

I was in the Peace Corps in Africa in 89-91 - and it changed my life. There might be more to think about than just the job etc. If you think you might enjoy a life working overseas (perhaps in many countries at one time or another?) then the PC might be a good option. Since the PC, I'v taught TEFL in four other countries and I don't intend to ever go home. I don't hate home - but I LOVE seeing and experiencing the world from a non-tourist aspect.

I think that the PC helped in my overall success: they will give you a LOT of training in intercultural aspects and it will help you see the world from a different perspective. I hated the PC when I was in it though - it is full of b*llsh*t and liberal angst. Those of us from less wealthy backgrounds felt that many of the volunteers were there just to have a "poverty experience" that they could go home and talk about.

Don't assume that your computer skills will get rusty. In some countries - Japan, Korea, Taiwan and many others - computer access is just as good or better than in the USA and the young people are very highly skilled. Here in Korea I get cable internet for about US$1.50 a month! That's atypically low though - I think about US$20 would be more normal. And as you know already, you can study and keep up to date via the net.

Making money? Go privately. Interested in developing intercultural skills that might benefit you over a lifetime? Go PC. The PC also gives you a bit of a safety net that you won't get out on your own. You will also be eligible for some gov't service jobs when you get back. If I ever when back - the one job I would want there - would be a PC recruiter because I love this career and this lifestyle (in spite of its limitations and frustrations).

IF you truly intend to get a master's degree, good idea - beacause in this career it is a MUST if you want real international mobility and a shot at the best and highest paying jobs (also with the longest vacations!). But, then again, you can nowadays get a distance MATESOL or MED - sometimes with very short or no residential components (while you are overseas).

So, there ya go - a very long answer, but may a very critical decision in your life plan.

Good luck! I hope you try this career and love it as much as I do!
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chuckie



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 11:06 pm    Post subject: a small additional thought Reply with quote

One good thing about the PC and their silly rules - is that it will teach you to get ready for foreign employers and their silly rules that you will also need to go along with. Employment overseas (and immigration/work permit rules) are filled with silly requirements and silly makework stuff. It is just part of it. Once you experience the PC version of it - it won't bother you anywhere else!

So, don't rule out the PC for that reason - because you WILL it experience no matter where you go.
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 11:30 pm    Post subject: Chuckie...Obviously You HAVE Been There(The Peace Corps) Reply with quote

A great post.It brought back a lot of memories...some good Smile ...some not so good Rolling Eyes

I particularly like your comments regarding the wealthy kids and "liberal angst".In my opinion,there is no bigger hypocrite in existence than a wealthy liberal.

We had our IVY guys ,too....one from Harvard,one from Princeton,one from Yale...always arguing about which Ivy school is "better"...but always looking down on their "less privileged" colleagues("Oh...you went to a STATE college...well..."(pitying look).

We also had an ex-cheerleader,Buffy type from Connecticut.Question:"Why DID YOU join the Peace Corps,Buff?"Answer""Well,you know my Dad wanted me to go overseas

and get a look at this poverty thing,you know?(as if one can not experience poverty in the US...but ,ah you know ,some people think poverty OVERSEAS is more romantic...try telling that one to the people who are living in poverty..)

Among our less privileged colleagues we had a janitor who had joined the Corps because he was tired of being a janitor(a nice guy actually).And a Sioux Indian from South Dakota who had been a barber before going into the Peace Corps.In some ways,the Peace Corps is kind of like TESOL,if you get my drift.

Nevertheless and DESPITE the horrible,meddling PC bureaucracy ,it is usuallyb a good experience...and one that you will probably never forget.Chuckie is absolutely right
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2003 11:30 pm    Post subject: Chuckie...Obviously You HAVE Been There(The Peace Corps) Reply with quote

A great post.It brought back a lot of memories...some good Smile ...some not so good Rolling Eyes

I particularly like your comments regarding the wealthy kids and "liberal angst".In my opinion,there is no bigger hypocrite in existence than a wealthy liberal.

We had our IVY guys ,too....one from Harvard,one from Princeton,one from Yale...always arguing about which Ivy school is "better"...but always looking down on their "less privileged" colleagues("Oh...you went to a STATE college...well..."(pitying look).

We also had an ex-cheerleader,Buffy type from Connecticut.Question:"Why DID YOU join the Peace Corps,Buff?"Answer""Well,you know my Dad wanted me to go overseas

and get a look at this poverty thing,you know?(as if one can not experience poverty in the US...but ,ah you know ,some people think poverty OVERSEAS is more romantic...try telling that one to the people who are living in poverty..)

Among our less privileged colleagues we had a janitor who had joined the Corps because he was tired of being a janitor(a nice guy actually).And a Sioux Indian from South Dakota who had been a barber before going into the Peace Corps.In some ways,the Peace Corps is kind of like TESOL,if you get my drift.

Nevertheless and DESPITE the horrible,meddling PC bureaucracy ,it is usuallyb a good experience...and one that you will probably never forget.Chuckie is absolutely right
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12019
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 4:06 am    Post subject: Volunteers Reply with quote

I was never in the Peace Corps ( although I was in the War Corps ), and I apologize in advance for this message's being somewhat " off-topic ". But, since there''s another thread talkng about movies, the flic " Volunteers ", with Tom Hanks and the late, great John Candy came to mind. It's set back in 1962, and here's a review from Amazon:
" For a comedy made in the '80s, there is less of a reliance on (Asian) stereotypes for punch lines than one would predict, though the movie is far from being politically sensitive. And speaking of politics, the politics of the movie are all messed up, ending up as a huge indictment of the Peace Corps as a corrupt tool of the government, despite some kind words at the end. Perhaps the biggest drawback of the movie, though, is its 107-minute running time; there's just too much emphasis on plot. Whenever costar John Candy appears, everything picks up, making you wish he was the star and the movie was about his character, Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, Washington. Ultimately, Volunteers ends up a better legacy for Candy than Hanks. "
My own opinion - very enjoyable, quite funny, worth a look.
Regards,
John
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2003 10:02 pm    Post subject: Personally,Johnslat,I Would Prefer a Good Horror Movie Reply with quote

"Volunteers", in my opinion,does not make it.You are right,though, Candy is a redeeming(in my opinon,the ONLY) feature of the film.The only way I have ever been able to watch it is after two or three drinks first.Most ex-PC people treat it with a mixture of disbelief and scorn.For one thing,it is set in Thailand, famous as one of the "easier countries" in the PC.The PC a "corrupt tool of the government"?Well,it is under the aegis of the State Department....and at times has beeb accused of being a tool of the CIA...although that last one MAY be a bit farfetched...

Glad you enjoyed it, however.Personally, I will take a good horror film anytime.
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