After nine years in U.S schools, School Counselor Boon Khang completed his first year at Singapore American School (SAS) in June 2023. What makes his story extraordinary is how his journey started.
Boon was born in a Thai refugee camp, just two years before his family was resettled in California in the early 90’s. He says,
Because my parents were never afforded the privilege to obtain a formal education, they always prioritized education for me throughout my upbringing.
The second youngest of six children, Boon became the first in his family to graduate from university. These experiences showed him firsthand the power of education for “present and future generations to use to better our world.” Boon began teaching in middle schools in Hawaii and California before shifting to school counseling. His passion for education has never waned. Both positions have allowed him to support students inside and outside the classroom. He adds,
Aside from the annual school holidays, what I enjoy most about being an educator is meeting so many talented and passionate students and learning about their stories.
Curious about opportunities out there that would allow him to explore the world while continuing to do what he loved professionally, Boon began to comb the internet for information. He knew that working in international schools would be the right fit, but he did not have any overseas teaching connections. After finding an organization called Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC), Boon joined a few of its affinity group spaces where other like-minded individuals provided valuable mentorship and support.
Boon also found Search Associates (SEARCH) “by chance” while researching international schools online. After learning about all the services SEARCH provides, he concluded that “it would be a beneficial membership to have” for his overseas school job search. The act of registering in and of itself was an education! Building a candidate profile allowed Boon to better understand the different requirements and various key attributes that schools seek. He adds,
It was also helpful to receive advice and guidance from my Associates Jen and Bob Imholt who provided encouragement and suggestions on how to handle confidential references.
Once his completed profile went live, Boon used the website often to stay up to date on the latest job postings. For him, the Job Vacancy portal was the most helpful function on the dashboard as it allowed him to filter job postings by position and country. He admits,
As someone who was completely new to international schools, the bank of information that SEARCH provided was very beneficial.
Boon was all set to attend his first job fair when he received and accepted an offer from his first choice of international school, Singapore American School! The school’s thorough job description aligned with Boon’s professional training and experience as a school counselor. He had read the school’s website and discovered all the recent work that had been done as well as its goals and strategic plans. The more Boon learned, the more he felt that SAS aligned with his own values and educational philosophy.
Likewise, Singapore was not new to Boon. Having visited on holiday twice before, he felt a sense of comfort, knowing that his first international school experience would be in a place with which he was already acquainted. He adds,
Another plus factor is that I would also get to immerse myself in Southeast Asia, the region of the world where my family comes from. It's not just a professional opportunity for me but also a personal journey to reconnect with my Hmong and Lao cultural roots in the surrounding Southeast Asia region. I knew it was the right choice.
Now that Boon has completed his first year overseas, he is able to reflect on the biggest difference he has noticed so far: students at international schools are more transient, so many of them will experience big changes, often in terms of moving and adapting to new schools and environments. Even so, Boon has good news to share:
As a school counselor, I support many students who face challenges transitioning to and from our school, but they always persevere and overcome these difficult situations.
For those of you considering working in international schools, Boon advises that you take your time building a quality candidate profile and thoroughly researching each school to which you plan to apply. Finally, he says,
In addition to finding a school that you would be a good fit for, make sure that the school will be a good fit for you.