Four years ago, when professor and novelist Adam Davies began teaching at a school that combines college with high school, he discovered a joy that had eluded him in academia. He found “exponentially more exciting” the work of helping younger students develop a relationship with reading, literature, and learning. Adam made a decision to enlist experts who could best help him make a change. A big one.
Adam will tell you that he stumbled into international education through dumb luck. When an old friend from his University of Georgia teaching days mentioned teaching abroad and Search Associates (SEARCH) in the same breath, Adam knew that was the future for him. Many (many) steps later, Adam has begun his dream job at a dream school in a dream location.
You’ll think I’m being a Search-Associates pet when I say this, but I literally owe my entire new life to SEARCH. After twenty years in post-secondary education, I had no idea at all about how to present myself to international schools—which, it turns out, want to see very different things than any college or university—and I owe a debt to Senior Associate Pete Kennedy that I will never be able to repay. Search Associates has the best relationships with the best schools in the world and the best people representing their teachers. I feel incredibly fortunate.
Adam applied for overseas teaching jobs very late in the season, after registering with SEARCH. Though he had missed all the job fairs, he took pleasure in his searchassociates.com cyber quest:
I used that website all the time! Seeing all those job postings in so many beautiful, alluring, fascinating countries and imagining your life there was like putting your face in dozens of bouquets of exotic flowers.
A miracle came as a vacancy for a secondary English position at Korea International School, Jeju campus. With Pete’s guidance, Adam scored an interview right away, and less than a week later, he was offered the job. He calls it “the fastest and happiest and most ‘kismetty’ application experience of my life, and probably the most important thing that has happened to me in decades."
Adam’s passion for reading began as a matter of life and death. When most kids were reading about Dick and Jane, a severe nut allergy had him combing lists of ingredients for items like cyanocobalamin and glucono delta-lactone “and other polysyllabic monstrosities.” He says that reading stories and sharing them with friends saved his emotional life. So, Adam figured that reading, cogitating, writing, and sharing it all with students would be just a short hop! He adds,
To enrich their lives and help secure them a happy future seems like a racket—that I even get paid to do it.
By the time Adam signed his contract with Korea International School, Jeju Campus (KISJ), the easy part was behind him. As with anyone moving to teach abroad, what lay before him was a to-do list as long as your arm: DIY renovating and painting a house before sale, emptying and vacating the premises long before the time to leave the country. He and his cat Mooshie were forced to bunk with a friend who is allergic to cats. Adam sold all of his possessions, with the exception of his laptop, clothes, photos, and books. Then, there was all the documentation needed to move overseas. Adam’s advice comes from the hardest part of his move, and mistakes made:
When traveling with a pet, do the opposite of what I did: start the process way earlier than you think is necessary. Policies vary by country, of course, but you’ll need to get a slew of inoculations and certifications, including a rabies shot. The testing facility—there is only one in the whole United States—is backlogged to the tune of three months or more, and if you fail to get a passing rabies titer in time, as I did, your beloved pet’s trauma will be extended and multiplied when you touch down in your new country, by being forced into a quarantine. I’ll never forget the reproachful, devastated expression my cat gave me as he was carried away from me in the airport. So yes, to sum up: get started on the process early. Bring treats. Avoid quarantine.
Even in the midst of seismic changes, before he landed among his new students, before Mooshie forgave him, Adam knew things were going to be great. And he was right. And while he recommends that educators considering international schools not wait “even one zeptosecond,” Adam doesn’t want you to do it alone:
I can say with no exaggeration that my relationship with Search Associates is one of the most important relationships in my entire life—or the life of any teacher who aspires to teach at international schools. Thanks to SEARCH, I will also have the opportunity—if I want it in years hence—to find another top job at a top location.