Don’t worry Ma; it’s just for a year! These were the exact words Nancy Remondi used to reassure her sweet, immigrant Italian mother when she decided to join the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (J.E.T.), after obtaining her Bachelor of Education degree. Thirty-one years later, Nancy is still on a remarkable journey of travel, adventure, and learning which has included Hong Kong, Jordan, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, and next, the Côte d’Ivoire!
At university, Nancy studied Linguistics and Modern Languages–French and Italian—with a dream to teach languages in Europe. But few jobs were available to new teachers there, so Nancy began her career in Japan and Hong Kong, teaching English for Language Learners. Later, she discovered her niche, teaching at the middle school level, where over the years, she has taught Language Arts, History, and French. She says,
My passion of travel and lifelong learning are intertwined as I experience our beautiful world through connection with fascinating humans around the globe.
Nancy’s year in Japan back in 1990 opened her eyes to the wonderful possibilities of a future in international teaching, and she has never looked back. She joined Search Associates (SEARCH) in 1994 when Senior Associate Harry Deelman was in Hong Kong reaching out to international educators. Nancy registered and immediately signed up for the Search Cambridge job fair. She says SEARCH has been her “partner in career possibilities ever since.” She returned to the Search Cambridge fair 11 years later and says,
I would most definitely attend a fair again. I love the buzz of possibility in the air as well as the amazing opportunity to meet with administrators face-to-face and connect with friends and former colleagues from around in the world—all in one ballroom!
Nancy, who during her job searches has visited the SEARCH website practically every day, admits “the new era of video conferencing has really opened up possibilities.” She particularly likes the school profiles, which provide important details such as contract particulars and savings potential. Nancy adds,
It’s also wonderful how information regarding the candidate is consolidated in a format which I think is user-friendly for recruiters.
Nancy’s greatest hurdle during the global COVID-19 crisis had to do with relocation, not teaching. Preparing to leave Kenya and start a new job in August 2020, she received word that her prospective school would be unable to reinstate all faculty. Nancy was on a job search once more.
Meanwhile, Nancy’s last months in Kenya were focused on helping her young adolescents socially and emotionally during the lockdown. She describes what happened:
I had to be creative and think of ways to sustain our community spirit while apart. Together with my student ambassador group, we came up with daily quizzes for house points, ‘name that tune’ contests with teachers lip-synching and dancing to pop songs, and grade level Zoom game hours, just to name a few.”
Because of her actions, Nancy helped to strengthen not only the middle school community but also the community of International School of Kenya teachers living in the same housing compound. She adds, “We truly came together, forged friendships, and supported each other.”
Another blessing was the maternity-leave cover Nancy secured for 2020-2021 school year at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS), in a city she loves and considers one of her global homes. She adds,
It was thanks to SEARCH that a CDNIS administrator discovered me on the platform.
During her year in Hong Kong, Nancy was seeking her next overseas teaching position, which she admits was “the most challenging search she has ever faced.” Eventually, an administrator from the International Community School of Abidjian reached her on the SEARCH platform: “I see you have lived in Eastern Africa. Why not try the West Coast and come practice your French?” After a video call, Nancy was inspired to join the small, developing community. She reflects,
From our conversation, I realized my strength as a veteran international educator would serve the school well as it continues to flourish. . . Having explored Asia quite thoroughly, I am beyond excited to return to Africa to explore the west coast. I am also passionate about service learning and have enjoyed initiating projects for students wherever I have lived.
This veteran of international teaching certainly has turned crises into opportunities for joy and growth. While Nancy didn’t keep her promise 31 years ago to her dear Mamma, she thinks Mamma understood. After all, she was the “Santa" who gave her daughter the globe that little Nancy spent hours studying while imagining life in faraway lands. Now, after a tricky year and a half, Nancy has only encouragement for prospective overseas educators:
Just don’t dream about it. Do it. And embrace the unexpected. I never ever dreamed I would live in countries such as Jordan and Kenya nor the Côte d’Ivoire, but what phenomenal experiences and education I’ve gained! Priceless!