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Teaching in Bali

Posted on March 29, 2014

I'm Renee Pothaar and this is my success story.

I was originally discouraged by some when I inquired about teaching in Bali. "Very competitive" is what I was told.  I arrived in Bali in October with a 'non' plan to surf for a couple of months, see how I liked it and head to Japan for work if necessary.

In my mind the best possible scenario I could have imagined is what has manifested for me.

A day in my life begins with a 4:30 a.m. wake up call and one hour meditation. This is not something I ever did in the past but something I incorporate into my life now, after having stumbled upon a 10-day silent meditation course on the island of Java.

At 6:30 a.m. I grab my backpack, hop on my scooter, navigate the streets of my Muslim neighborhood, dodging chickens and dogs, to stop at the local market and buy grated coconut and fresh fruit for breakfast on my way to work.

7 a.m. I arrive at school. I am the only foreigner in the primary section of my school and I love it for the opportunity to experience Balinese culture and language through interacting with other amazing staff. Not only do I teach English, but also math, science, social studies and art to my adorable Balinese second graders.

The culture is different, the pace is different and each day there is more to be learned. I have been lucky enough to observe Chinese New Year's celebrations and soon will be my first Nyepi experience, which is New Year's according to the Balinese Hindu calendar.  Friday at school will be traditional Hindu celebrations, followed by a day of complete silence. The whole country will stop for a day. Not even the international airport will open (the only one in the world that closes). No one will use light, talk or leave their homes. Tourists alike are asked to respect the Balinese day of silence.

1:35 p.m. daily school ends for my class. Three days per week I stay at school until 3:15 p.m. to teach private lessons . Otherwise, I hop on my scooter and head home in time for a sunset surf or run on the beach, followed by a delicious meal for a dollar, a movie or the news and then early to bed to the sound of prayers over the microphone from the mosque down the street.

Teaching ESL allows me to feel productive and satisfied with the work I do. It allows me the freedom to pursue the lifestyle I want to live and the opportunity to work all over the world, as well as at home. Each new experience is a building block in my career which enables me to feel continuity and personal growth without the restrictions of a job that is tied to a certain location.

I have spent years travelling the world and working in many different capacities.  Now, after making the decision to take my TESOL course at VCC, the final piece of my puzzle has fallen into place and here I am in Bali, looking out at the Indian Ocean with a world of possibility on the horizon.


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