A message from an international family
This is a personal one. Yes, we're living in interesting times, but can we just take a moment to think about our friends, students and colleagues, past and present, who are living and working in affected countries. When we go out into the world, either to teach or to study, we go with the knowledge that we will change, but we don't often think the world will change around us.
Having lived and worked in China for many years, it all feels very close to home. My family and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who took the time to help us; for the friendship that was shown to us, for directions when we were lost, for recommendations when we didn't know how to order food in a restaurant, for the taxi drivers, the security guards, the workers, our neighbours, the people on a daily basis who treated us with such open warmth and hospitality.
For our friends in China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Brazil, Chile, Dubai, UAE, Sweden, Italy, Germany and Spain, and our family in France, Australia, Canada and America, we are thinking about you all.
As TEFL teachers, or EFL students, we are an international breed. We're used to moving and adapting, being flexible, working and living in new cultures, it's what we do, and what we have to keep doing.
Things are moving fast, as COVID-19 affects more and more countries worldwide, we find ourselves in a situation which is changing day by day. The TEFL industry is by definition international, so, naturally we're being affected.
Schools and universities are closing, courses are being cancelled or moving online, travel restrictions are affecting teachers moving to take up new contracts, and most importantly this is all affecting the lives and study plans of tens of thousands of students.
The next few months will be a time of uncertainty for every level of education.
However, what we need to remember, as managers and business owners, is that students are at the heart of what we do. Behind every school, or university, shutdown is the story of a student and the story of a teacher. Without one, the other doesn't exist.
When we come through this, and we will come through this, the world will be different. As international people we will be at the forefront of rebuilding some of the international relationships which are being so badly shaken by xenophobia and finger pointing.
We're all in this together.
As an industry we have a unique opportunity to change some of our practices and approaches; how teachers are treated and how students are treated. Perhaps we should take the time to reflect on how we treat people and how we want people to treat us when we come through this to the other side.
Most of all, please take this as an opportunity to remember why we do this; to experience new cultures and places but most importantly to learn from each other.
For those who have lost someone, my family and I extend our deepest condolences. For those who are stuck far away from home parted from your loved ones, we sincerely hope you are treated with kindness by the community you find yourself in.