Teaching is a vocation, a calling and not just merely a profession. Not everyone who graduated with Bachelor’s Degree in Education from university was truly qualified to teach, yet some who were non-Education graduates were more qualified to be teachers.
Before I continue, let me first introduce myself. I am Marvin Alejandro Tuazon, a Filipino citizen, 32 years old and an English Teacher in China since 2012. I graduated with a bachelor in Nursing Degree in 2008 and later I took Education units from Bulacan State University. Prior to my graduation in 2008, my former boss, Jonas Jay Lorenzo, asked me during the interview if I would be willing to start immediately to teach Caregiver students. That was on March 10, 2008, roughly a week before my graduation.
Having a job is a priority for most if not all graduates. Being the eldest among three siblings, it was already instilled in my mind that I have to help my family to have a better life. It was a chance of a lifetime when I had the privilege to be trusted to work in a technical-vocational (tech-voc) school in our small town in Pampanga. At the age of 20, I became an instructor for Caregiving subjects, in which I had the chance to teach students who were at least 16 years of age and some of them were even professionals, fathers, mothers, and Filipinos who wanted to be Canadian citizens; and the easiest, possible profession that they have thought was to have a Caregiving certificate; to work and live in Canada for the bigger chance of being a migrant.
Indeed, many of them had their dream came true and having a caregiving job was just their initial entry and now they have become Canadian citizens; they could find a job in accordance to the job preference that they really want. After few months, I was entrusted to teach Practical Nursing (Nursing Assistant Course), I was so glad that ACTEC (my former school) have seen my potentials and me being a neophyte, young unlicensed professional was given the opportunity to teach and to have this school as my training ground.
I graduated as a Nurse; I thought I would possibly work at the hospital. I never dreamed to be a teacher. I did not choose to be a teacher but people have testified and they have seen the skills and passion of a future educator in me. Little did I know that teaching would be my vocation and a job that I would use to possibly shape people’s lives!
According to a recent study of the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2016, there are about 2.2 million contracted Overseas Filipino Workers; some of them were undocumented and others were already migrants. In totality, there are about approximately 10% of the total Philippine population are working overseas. And I had the privilege to be one of the expats, who’s making every opportunity to improve myself, making my country proud and having the opportunity to earn a decent pay that gave me the privilege to save, invest, tithe, send money back home and have the opportunity to extend a help to my neighbour when necessary.
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Allow me to share three major reasons why I chose to live and work in China. I would just like to share two things that were instilled in my mind when I was still in my home country before I left for China. Firstly, when I visited South Korea, I was blessed to be one of the nine students who were sent by our university (University of Regina Carmeli, in Malolos, Bulacan) as an exchange student for three weeks, I have seen and experienced the difficulty in living in a country whose English was not their first language. Despite the fact that I studied Korean Language as my Foreign Language Course, I still had the difficulty to immerse myself and I made a conclusion that I would never work and live in a country where people do not speak English.
Secondly, I was able to teach teenagers and adult students when I was in the Philippines. Those were the four golden years of my life and I had the privilege to meet a lot of people, spoke with hundreds if not thousands of people during an event such as graduation ceremony, seminars and many other things. I thought to myself that I was good at this and I wouldn’t want to teach kids for I am not that patient enough and I know that it would be so exhausting. Funny it may seem but what I have learned is that you must never say never, for you will never know when you would swallow the words that you utter; you have to make sure it’s sweet so it is easy to eat your words again.
With all honesty and confidence, I thought I would be working in the Philippines for many years. Yes! I’ve been checking a lot of Overseas Job Opportunities but that didn’t materialize because I was so happy with my situation and my heart was filled with joy when I met this lady (of whom I thought would be my girlfriend), I was elated and I was living pay check to pay check. I could not even afford to travel even to South East Asian Countries for few days for lack of budget with lots of bills to be paid. Not to mention that I enrolled myself for a Master’s Degree course which I am eyeing to finish by next year.
To make a long story short, I was happy even I had financial constraint, but things have turned terribly miserable when I was betrayed by this girl whom I adored so much at that time. I was crushed and perplexed, it seemed that I was so paralyzed and numb. I couldn’t focus and it was hard to carry the same focus and motivation that I have been doing for the past 4 years in that institution, to make it worst, we were even colleagues and I was seeing the new guy that she’s started to adore.
But God is so good and He knows my heart and mind. I was spared and I was given the opportunity that changed my life forever. I received a Facebook message from my cousin, my cousin of whom I only met during my grandfather’s burial. He asked me if I would want to teach in China because his brother in law was looking for English teacher. It was like a spark when I received that invitation and I agreed to take the opportunity.
I really wanted to work abroad for many times, I first declined and I didn’t have the opportunity to pursue it because I was happy at that time but since I had a failed relationship so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and took a leap of faith.
These are the following reasons why I decided to teach in China.
I wanted to escape for I was broken hearted. It was already a toxic environment for me and I could not focus at work. My motivation faded. I know it was a pity and other people might roll their eyes and would advise me that I should be strong and work professionally. Since China’s door has opened, I told myself that I should try and do something different. I know that I have told myself back in 2007 when I went to Korea that I wouldn’t go to a country that does not speak English; and there I was considering to teach in China whose language is Mandarin, with multicultural differences. I did not want to teach kids but China’s only option for me was to teach in kindergarten. It was really shocking for me and I thought it would really be so tedious for me to teach kids aged 3-6. Well… I grabbed the opportunity to salvage my sanity.
The second and most important reason why I have chosen to work abroad was to support my family, especially for my brother who was in College at that time and I have to pay for our family’s debt and bills. Little did I know that after a few months of working in China, my parents were laid off from their jobs. In response to this, I should carry the burden of financial responsibility. Money is one the things that most people want, they have flown miles away to earn a decent pay in exchange for a bright tomorrow. People leave their spouses, children, family and homeland; this is the ubiquitous trend of Filipinos. I am so sure that there are many Filipinos who are willing to take the risks just to have a better life in the future.
I thought that I would only teach in China for 2-4 years and perhaps I could continue my desire to go back to nursing industry and migrate to Australia or Canada. China has been so good to me. I have met a lot of people, experienced various things, traveled to many parts of China. I have pushed my limits, I have worked so hard and I made it a point to give my heart and I enjoyed the simplicity of my life in China. I can consider that China is the best place to teach for Overseas Workers. As teachers, there will be lesser paperwork and more time for self-development and if you are wise, you can invest and save dramatically with free accommodation, utilities and opportunity to travel (locally or internationally) during holidays and vacations.
China is not for everyone, stereotyping, biases and clichés should be set aside. I have a Filipino colleague who had lived and worked in Canada and New Zealand for some years (like 3-5) and she concluded that China is her home. As an expat, there’s a less pressure, stress and teaching in China is not like a rat race that you should work for long hours for pennies.
In conclusion, I have no thoughts of leaving China, after six years of being a kindergarten teacher, right now I have stepped up my game and I decided to make a change by being a teacher for High School students in Taian City, Shandong Province, where my story for this adventure could be shared for the next article that I would write. I love China and teaching English had opened its door for me for countless blessings. I am enjoying the time of my life, it is already my second home and because of the present situation, I have found my better half (my girlfriend, Hannah).
This is my 7th year of being an expat in China. With 11 years of my teaching experience and 32 years of existence, I am on my way to finishing my postgraduate studies, to having my own house and lot and having the opportunity to acquire financial liberty. Everything did not happen in like a glimpse or blink of an eye. I had to face difficult ordeals, accept the things that the Chinese do that are so different from the norms I was raised with. I have no intention to brag or what.
I just want to inspire and motivate people to never give up in reaching their dreams. Life would be tough, there’ll be no assurances that we will be lying on a bed of roses and life will always be fair. But then again, this shouldn’t stop you to seize every opportunity that was given to you. You are here for such a time as this, you are blessed to be a blessing and the trust of the people that is given to you should be reciprocated.
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I am Marvin Tuazon, a brother, loving boyfriend, friend, a registered nurse, licensed teacher, aspirant, dreamer and believer. If you have any questions or clarifications feel free to contact me on my LinkedIn account “Marvin Tuazon – GAC Instructor” or feel free to contact me on my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am grateful to share to you that I had the privilege to be interviewed for South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and China Daily Newspaper in Mainland China. Thanks for the journalists – Coco Liu and Mengqi. Zaijian (Good Bye)