Born in the state of West Bengal in India, Saiti Datta moved around a lot with her family for her father’s job. A memory from her childhood is the view from the hill station of Darjeeling, famous for its tea gardens. There, she fell in love with the majestic Himalaya Mountains. It was sad to leave and settle down in the plains of Chandernagore, where Saiti eventually graduated from high school.
Commuting to Calcutta for university from her parents’ house proved too arduous, so Saiti began to stay in the college hostels in order to complete her bachelor’s degree in physics. Her innate independence was sparked. She recalls,
“The hostel life taught me the practical ways of life as we had to actively take turns in planning menus and shopping [for] groceries for about a hundred people.”
For her master’s degree in physics, Saiti moved to Pune, a city in western India. The surrounding hills drew her to hike during the rainy season, when “they turned a spectacular color of green, crisscrossed with numerous waterfalls.”
In 2004, Saiti moved overseas as a graduate student. Though she taught physics to undergrads at the University of Florida, she developed so much more than just teaching skills! She explains,
“As a student I had to make cultural adjustments that made me sensitive to the situations of students from other countries. . . Since then, I have mentored under graduate and graduate students from different countries, first as a graduate student and later as a postdoctoral fellow in U.S.A."
For the last four years, Saiti has been teaching high school physics at the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) Programme and International General Certificate for Secondary Education level at B.D. Somani International School in Mumbai, India. She has met many people at IB workshops who work in different countries in Asia. Their stories inspired her to broaden her horizons, to “be a teacher in a country with a different culture and languages.” Ready for her next adventure, Saiti contacted Search Associates (SEARCH). Her colleagues had described all the ways SEARCH supports candidates looking for international teaching jobs. Once registered, Saiti’s search went smoothly:
“Once I created the account, Susan and John Ritter have been extremely helpful with their advice and have guided me throughout the process. They have always been proactive in answering my numerous questions.”
Initially seeking jobs solely in Southeast Asia, Saiti started widening the search area to countries in East Asia. She checked the SEARCH website often for the latest job postings and to read more about schools of interest on the digital platform. Before an interview via Skype, Saiti would study a school’s website and social media page for a better understanding. She explains how a school in China caught her attention:
“One picture on the social media with a caption that said ‘other schools take students to zoo; we take them to the wall’ impressed me very much, and I was eager to know more.”
Saiti Datta has been appointed Advanced Placement Physics and IB Teacher in the international department of Beijing National Day School, Beijing, China. After five years of high school teaching experience, this highly-qualified, adventurous, and independent educator is moving to China. It’s very exciting, but these decisions are not always easy. Saiti’s husband—a scientist at a research institute in India—will not be joining her. Yet she is firm in her beliefs:
“I think all educators should pursue teaching in an international school abroad. Before we teach students about risk taking and [being] life-long learners, we ourselves should experience these first. If one enjoys teaching, travelling, and experiencing new things in life, choose the life of an international educator.”