10 reasons to teach overseas
The world is full of universities, many of them surprisingly different from the one where you studied. The six of us, all young scholars who work with the organization Global Scholars, could have applied to work at the universities where we did our post-graduate study. But we felt the Lord leading us to look farther afield. At the universities where we’re now working, students are wrestling with some of the same issues that we and our classmates wrestled with as students: whether Christianity makes sense, and how to respond to issues like global economic injustice and local environmental pollution.
Yet our students are also struggling with some very different issues: how to find a chair to sit on, how to confront witchcraft, how to feed their children, and how to protect friends whose lives are endangered because of their Christian faith.
In spite of challenges, we’ve found ways to continue producing research in our fields, to undertake academic teaching that our students appreciate and that stimulates us, and to experience the joy of journeying out of one’s comfort zone to follow Jesus.
Here are some thoughts on the delights and challenges you may experience if you try teaching at a university far from your home. We’ve given the country where the person who made the comment is working, in parentheses, so that you can see the where the comments originated.
1. You may have to accept the excuse that an assignment is late because the student was caught up in the most recent bomb attack. Cross-cultural academic work will help inform and engage you with global politics. (Nigeria)
2. You may find yourself in a job for which you were the only applicant – unlike most academic positions in the rich West, where you’re one of hundreds. Cross-cultural academic work helps to equalize the global imbalance in educational opportunities and credentials. (North Korea)
3. You may be asked for money to keep your student and her children from starvation. Cross-cultural academic work will challenge your heart as well as your mind. (The Gambia)
4. You may find yourself in an environment where the students are eager to talk with you about God… but where identifying yourself as a Christian, may put you in danger of imprisonment or deportation. Cross-cultural academic work will help you to find potential for Christian proclamation in your professional life, but may also call for the kind of courage the apostle Paul showed when he stood against Rome. (China)
5. Your students may actually enjoy coming to class, and as the first from their village to attend university recognize the privilege they are enjoying. Cross-cultural academic work will allow you to invest in the lives of future global leaders. (Kazakhstan)
6. You may find you are the only native English speaker, and hence are asked constantly to edit your colleagues’ research articles and book manuscripts, regardless of the discipline. Cross-cultural academic work will give you opportunities to bless your university and your colleagues in ways you hadn’t planned for. (Lithuania)
7. You may have to explain, for the fifth time to the same eager but bewildered student, why sharing answers with a classmate or copying them from a textbook is plagiarism, and why it is wrong. Cross-cultural academic work will help you see the complex the ways cultural and moral factors are entwined in your professional life.(North Korea)
8. You may spend your office hours teaching students how to conduct research in a different discipline, praying for them about their substance abuse problems, or advising them about making peace with co-wives…. rather than just staring blankly at your computer screen. Cross-cultural academic work provides opportunity for putting to use skills that are much broader than those your PhD cultivated. (Nigeria)
9. You may endure two hours of traffic jams on the way to the office you share with five loud professors, three of whom smoke constantly. Cross-cultural academic work can engender a deeper need for the spiritual discipline of patience among colleagues. (China)
10. You may find your prayers growing in fervency and your understanding of God growing in complexity as you face circumstances you can’t decipher, loneliness you didn’t expect, and church life you aren’t comfortable with. Cross-cultural academic work is an opportunity for spiritual growth. (China, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Nigeria, North Korea, The Gambia)
To explore further visit www.global-scholars.org and see how you could be part of a virtual team serving as lecturers across the world. SIM would love to send you and support you in both your preparation to go, your orientation on arrival and on-going support with our team on the field who are serving in a broad variety of ways. We are working in partnership with Global Scholars as they play a vital part in offering very specific academic support to lecturers.
–The Anonymous 6
First published by International Fellowship of Evangelical Students