News: Participate Learning Graduate Yaodong Li is Heading to Hong Kong - Jan 25, 2024
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Thursday, January 25, 2024Candidate Stories

Participate Learning Graduate Yaodong Li is Heading to Hong Kong

Search Associates loves collaborating with educational organizations across the globe. Three years ago, Senior Associate for the Midwest Brian Lettinga began working with Participate Learning, an organization collaborating with teachers from around the world to provide them with professional and personal growth opportunities in the U.S. Through their collaboration with Participate Learning, these Ambassador Teachers live, work, and have an incredible impact in schools and communities across Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Yaodong (R) graduates from Participate LearningBrian works with graduates of the Participate Learning Ambassador Teacher program, those who have fully completed their five-year teaching experience in the United States. Each year, Brian hosts two webinars introducing graduates to the benefits of working with Search Associates (SEARCH.) Meet a graduate who experienced the benefits of registering with our agency as he prepared for the next chapter of his international teaching career. 

Born and raised in Shanxi, China, Yaodong Li calls himself a third-generation elementary school teacher; his late granduncle was an elementary teacher, and his uncle recently retired as an elementary school principal.

In college, Yaodong majored in Foreign Language Education and was licensed to teach at the elementary and middle school level. His first job, however, was in an international trading company. He recalls,

By chance, I was asked to tutor a student with his schoolwork, and I felt a sense of achievement that I had not experienced in the trade company. Soon after that, I left my job to work as a teacher.

With students and colleagues at the Choice FairCompeting in jiu jitsuThrough Participate Learning, Yaodong had the good fortune to train, and then certify online, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After serving for five years as Chinese Immersion Teacher at New Century International Elementary School in Fayetteville, he began to seek international teaching opportunities, curious about education in other parts of the world. Now, Yaodong is headed to Hong Kong for his first international teaching position outside the United States!

Securing his dream job did not happen overnight. For about two months, Yaodong tried to navigate through the various employment platforms for educators: job search websites, recruitment fairs, and friend recommendations. Then, he remembered a name he had seen in the Participate Learning newsletter: Search Associates (SEARCH). He says,

I probably would not have got my new position at Hong Kong International School without Search Associates. With regard to employment outside the U.S., SEARCH can definitely provide a great number of opportunities from quality international schools.

When Yaodong contacted SEARCH, he was interviewed by Senior Associate Brian Lettinga, who ended up walking him through the registration process. Yaodong adds,

Brian also gave informative advice for building my resume, and he encouraged me to attend job fairs.

At the center of a Global Teaching Dialogue in D.C.Unable to attend a job fair due to work, Yaodong used the SEARCH platform about once a week, sometimes more often. He relied on the “My Job Search” function, where candidates can be specific about preferred positions and regions.

Yaodong first connected with Hong Kong International School (HKIS) through the SEARCH platform. Noticing an international teaching vacancy there, he studied their website before contacting them. An initial Zoom interview with their lower primary school leadership convinced him that HKIS was a great school he would love to join. HKIS invited Yaodong to visit the school and do a demo lesson, which sealed the deal for both the candidate and the school.

It took almost a year from the time Yaodong registered with SEARCH to the time he received the job offer from HKIS. For those who are interested in teaching abroad, he says:

Be patient in your job search. A good opportunity is worth waiting for.

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Gary MacPhie is based in Toronto, Canada where he started his teaching career, and then spent 26 years overseas as a teacher, principal and recruiter in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.