This August, Lucia Mangolo is fulfilling her dream to move abroad; she’s heading to Kuwait for her first international teaching job at Al-Bayan Bilingual School (BBS). Research about opportunities and countries where she would enjoy living placed Kuwait at the top of her list. Meanwhile, no matter where she is, her focus is a love for children, “their minds, way of thinking, the ideas they generate, the humor they have, and the innocence they present.”
During the time of COVID-19, Lucia has been teaching her local Grade 3 students from her home in South Africa, using the Microsoft Teams platform from 9–2 p.m. While her students and she “have all embraced this new learning environment,” Lucia says, “I can see they miss the physical connection, as do I.” The hardest part for Lucia is uncertainty about the consequences of the pandemic, globally and personally.
About her personal story, Lucia says, “Education had the power to get me out of poverty.” Raised in the “improvised community” Alexandra Township, Lucia attended “good public schools through a bursary scheme which funded her education.” She began Grade 1 in 1999 with no English, far behind her peers. She recalls,
Whenever I received school newsletters to send back home, both my parents couldn’t read them, so I was forced to send these to a neighbor to read for us. I decided I would work so hard in class and ask questions, apply myself to the best of my ability so that I could learn how to read them myself.
Her Grade 1 teacher, whom Lucia describes as patient, loving, and always available, helped her achieve her goals. That young girl vowed to become a teacher, a dream that carried her through Grade 12. With a lack of funds for university, Lucia found an opportunity to work as an intern at a highly reputable private school that supported her three-year program of study. She says,
This gave me the opportunity to be in the midst of great teachers, observing my mentors, and interacting with children, whilst studying for my teaching degree.
In 2019, during her 6th year in education and 2nd year as a permanent qualified teacher in South Africa, Lucia decided it was the “perfect time to explore and teach in world-renowned schools.” She researched what agencies could help her seek overseas teaching positions before making her decision:
Search Associates came out on top because schools are pre-screened, and that made it easier to trust the process.”
Once registered, Lucia “met” with Senior Associate Gez Hayden, who answered her many questions about teaching abroad. Finding the website easy to navigate, she began to check it almost daily for vacancies in “all countries.”
Things moved relatively quickly! Interested in Lucia’s resume, the BBS administrative office emailed her to schedule an interview. Only poor Wi-Fi connection that December 2019 bogged down the process. Three attempts later, BBS managed to get hold of Lucia in January. After a successful Skype interview, Lucia responded in writing to additional questions: what her teaching philosophy was and how she would use technology as an instructional tool. She says,
I received an offer after a week and was very relieved and grateful for the opportunity. I then sent Gez Hayden an email to review the contract, and I signed within 24 hours!
Lucia admires the culture of Kuwait, and Al-Bayan Bilingual School is closely similar to the one at which she teaches now, so she feels confident she will adapt quite quickly to her new school where she will be teaching 2nd Grade. She recommends prospective teachers do their research like she did: the best agency for international teaching jobs, the countries where you prefer to live, the style of teaching and learning in that country. Like all our candidates, Lucia wants you to go for it! She’s so excited:
I have always dreamt of living abroad, and Search Associates has made this a reality. I’m looking forward to going to Kuwait!