By: Kristine Bolt
I started working when I was eighteen years old. It was a summer job in the back office of a bank during the summer before I started university. I liked the feeling of being productively occupied that going in to work every day gave me, and I liked getting paid every week. It made me feel grown up.
Through my university years, I worked every summer and occasionally during the semester at various places. At the end of university, however, I floundered. I had spent three years earning a degree in a field in which I had come to realize I had no desire to work. I wanted to travel and see the world and live in unusual places, not sit behind a desk all day crunching numbers. So I tried to get a job that would allow me to fulfill my dream. I tried everywhere I could, from the foreign affairs ministry to an airline to a travel agency. Unfortunately, if I wasn't being soundly rejected, I was being bored out of my mind.
I went back to the drawing board, trying to decide what to do with my life. I finally decided that it was time to give up on my dream of going far and wide. It was time to be responsible and just get a job. So that’s what I did. I got my toe in the door of a large company in a temporary clerical position and for the next decade and a half I moved up in life, topping out in my former career as an executive in that same company where I started out. Thankfully, I was eventually made redundant from my job; then a series of resulting events conspired for me to finally chase my dream of world travel. Thankfully, International TEFL Academy's online course made it so that I didn't even have to pause for long in my dream-chasing in order to earn my certificate as a Teacher of English as a Foreign language.
I earned that certification almost two years ago, and now I live and work in Yakutsk, Russia. Here, I've been able to say something for the very first time in my life: I love my job. I. Love. My. Job. I love everything about it. This is surprising to me because I didn’t expect to love my job. I expected to like it, and I expected to learn a lot and I was excited that it gave me the opportunity to live in a place I would never have dreamed of living in before. But I didn’t expect to feel love for the job that I do here.
It came to me one morning while I was preparing for a lesson. Out of nowhere a wave of feeling washed over me. It took me by surprise because all I was doing was sitting at a table preparing my lesson. I took a moment to identify the feeling and realized that it was love for what I’m doing now. The feeling has come back time and again since then.
I spend my days wrangling kids, trying to facilitate their learning process, to ensure that their parents feel that they’re getting their money’s worth in sending them to our language school. They lose their class work; they don’t do their homework; they play in class when they’re supposed to be paying attention; they make each other cry sometimes; they talk when they’re supposed to listen. They can be difficult at times. So why do I love my job?
It’s because of the child who, after our first class together, ran back into the classroom with his arms outstretched to me, grabbed my face and kissed my cheek then ran off again saying, “Спасибо!” (That’s, “thank you”, or, “spasiba” in Russian.) It’s three of my little five year old girls who, as I sat with them overseeing their colouring work, popped up from their seats, ran around to me and started patting my face and hair and hugging me and giggling. It’s one of my seven year old girls who said, “I love learn and I love you, Miss Kristine!” (We’re working on her grammar.) It’s my nine year old kids who light up and say, “Ahhhh!” every time they understand a challenging concept. It’s my rambunctious ten year olds who drive me crazy when they won’t settle down but who are all in when it comes time to do their work. It’s even my moody twelve year olds who I normally can’t get to talk to each other but who light up like New York City when I put them in teams for a competition.
I love my job because of each and every child I teach, including the challenging ones. I love preparing for my classes, I love delivering my lessons, and I love every administrative duty that comes with the job. I love it all. It can be busy and stressful but it’s perfect for me.
I don’t know that I’ll be a teacher for the rest of my life because, having been liberated from the box of "ordinary" and "normal" that I used to live in, I have many dreams to work on fulfilling now. But I'm particularly grateful that I’ve found out what it feels like to do what I'm supposed to be doing – even for a time – instead of what other people think I should be doing. It feels great to be able to say that my job and my situation here and now, in this unexpected place, are perfect for me.
Kristine Bolt is an ex-desk jockey from Jamaica whose life underwent a dramatic one hundred and eighty degree change a few years ago. Suddenly the things that mattered most to her – like stuff and position and people's opinions – didn't matter so much anymore. Now, she's a traveler and a helper who values getting out of her safe little box, going out into the world and serving people. So that's what she does, mostly through teaching English as a foreign language. She currently lives and works in Yakutsk, Russia. You can follow her blog here.