Hope Teague-Bowling calls herself bossy. So when she says she has wanted to teach abroad since grad school, we understand that her significant other, Nate Bowling, needed to be on board with that “constant part of the equation.” Also part of the equation: finding a country that would embrace them as an interracial couple—even though they are rock stars of education.
Growing up overseas, Hope loved helping others and knew she had the makings of a teacher. As a teen living in Asia, she tutored peers in English. Years later, she earned a Bachelor’s in English followed by a Master’s in Teaching. Hope has a way of winning hearts with her sense of humor, and her way with words:
I wanted to work with teens because they're less sticky than children and they are little adults who can reason, reflect and engage with complicated subjects. . . I love teaching Language Arts because a good teacher makes learning fun, relatable and challenging.
Her partner Nate Bowling was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington and is a high school government teacher in his hometown. Named the 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year and a finalist for 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Nate is also a recipient of the 2014 Milken National Teaching Award and a founding member of Teachers United, an anti-racist education policy advocacy group in Washington.
When it was time to take the leap, Nate and Hope chose Search Associates (SEARCH). Two graduate school friends teaching abroad had spoken highly of SEARCH professionalism and support during their own international job searches in Beirut. Once registered, Nate and Hope followed Senior Associate Bob Imholt's advice and immediately set up their profiles over the course of a month in the fall. At the same time, they began to request their confidential references—an ingredient crucial to ensuring a successful job hunt. Hope adds,
Joining SEARCH made the job search easy and convenient. In particular, we appreciated how easy it was to compare schools and packages. . . We often describe SEARCH as a dating site for educators looking to teach abroad! The candidate dashboard is easy to use and navigate. We appreciated the checklist to track our application completion. We looked forward to getting daily emails with our school matches.
Before even attending the San Francisco job fair, Hope and Nate accepted positions at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi (ACS). Originally, they had envisioned teaching in Southeast Asia or Latin America, but ACS discovered their applications on the SEARCH website site and reached out to Hope and Nate to apply! Hope recalls,
Each time we spoke with someone from ACS leadership, we finished the conversation on a high. It was shockingly easy and felt like we were talking with colleagues. We asked all the hard and awkward questions we could think of. One day we were debriefing on the Skype chat and realized we knew more about this school and staff than any job either of us had applied/accepted here in the U.S.! After a few hours researching on the internet and discussing the move with mentors, we decided to commit.
Having often preached to their students about being global citizens, Nate and Hope see this move as an opportunity to deepen their understanding of another culture and develop their global citizenship. Teaching abroad also offers a new opportunity to strengthen their pedagogical expertise. They've worked for over a decade in U.S. schools and look forward to expanding their teaching tool kits.
A key component of Hope and Nate’s job search process was making sure both individuals would be comfortable in the new environment. This extremely egalitarian couple wanted to make sure that they accepted positions at a school and in a country in which they could still be true to their authentic selves. Nate and Hope had many conversations about how a new school/culture/country would treat him as a black man, her as a white woman, and both as an interracial couple. They also wanted to make sure their new school aligned with their values about teaching and learning. While they have been open to being challenged in these areas, they also both wanted to grow personally and professionally. They say,
Use a reputable agency, such as Search Associates, and complete the application. Doors will open and close, and you will find the right spot for yourself. . . In your interviews, ask all the awkward, uncomfortable questions you can ask. How do you assess for learning? What kind of support is there for new curriculum? How does the administration deal with discipline? How do parents engage with the school? What about helicopter parents? How do you support teacher adjustments to a new country and new school? What are cultural expectations on the different genders? Races?
Nate and Hope say it’s never the perfect time to move and teach abroad, so “JUST DO IT!”