Khalilah Ali spent most of her adult life living and teaching English in Atlanta, Georgia. Now this self-described mother of two kids and two puppies is enjoying her first overseas teaching position in West Africa, and Search Associates (SEARCH) has been happy to assist the transition.
After teaching English at the university for about 12 years, Khalilah was ready for a change. No longer stimulated by the work and wearied by what she calls an “unending rat race,” she underwent some serious reflection:
I remembered how much I really enjoyed teaching high school. However, I wanted to shake things up a bit. I’d been a teacher in Atlanta, and I asked myself, If you could teach anywhere, where would you go? And voila!?
The seed had already been sown for Khalilah’s dream international teaching position. She had discovered SEARCH in 2015 and gone so far as registering but was offered another university position. Four years later, with her children grown, she thought Now is my chance! Then, the pandemic hit, and Khalilah postponed international teaching for yet a couple more years. The impact of COVID-19, however, made it patently clear that “you only live once (YOLO).”
In the summer of 2021, with the guidance of Senior Associate Pete Kennedy, Khalilah reactivated her file with SEARCH. This time around, Khalilah got to use the “useful and user-friendly” platform to explore international teaching vacancies. She says,
Everything I needed was right at my fingertips. I signed on to the platform, updated my materials, and was interviewing practically immediately. I signed a contract for Lincoln Community in October. I accepted a position at the Lincoln Community School in Ghana. I always wanted to live in Ghana because of its rich history, and when this opportunity came up, I jumped on it. I minored in African Studies and taught courses at the college level, and West Africa was one of the main areas we studied because many enslaved Africans were transported to the new world through ports in West Africa. Elmira Castle, a slave port in Africa, was located there.
During her time as a university professor, Khalilah never stopped loving her subject matter, never stopped loving students. Yet, teaching abroad has provided the change she needed to expand her life in wonderful ways. You can feel the excitement in her voice:
I’d say the biggest difference is cultural. Here, the sights and sounds and rhythms are familiar yet different. Young folks are young folks globally of course! I do learn so much from them. They are so diverse here; from all over the world. I am always so excited to learn Twi or even French from my students.
If you are considering teaching in an international school abroad, Khalilah has this to say:
I would say do it! Do it now; a new locale may refresh your love for the profession. It doesn’t matter if you have a spouse or children—find the place that fits your life and go there.