Long before joining the world of international education, Whitney Kaulbach and Marc Gilbertson sought adventure. Whitney's college trip to post-communist Hungary resulted in volunteer activities with environmental camps along the Danube River. Marc used his summer vacations throughout college to spend time in the Arctic, Thailand, Europe, and elsewhere. His wanderlust gained momentum as an international ski racer and Olympian (Nagano, 1998). In fact, Marc and Whitney met ski racing and coaching before they began teaching in the same community. Whitney adds,
"Twenty years later, we routinely awake each morning to a full pot of coffee, radio news, and excitement about a daily lesson or a new application. Now our daughter takes part in these rituals (minus the coffee). Her love of adventure has inspired us to once more uproot and go abroad."
Though Whitney and Marc desired teaching jobs abroad, they needed to accomplish a few things first: gain solid experience teaching and coaching Stateside as well as finishing their Masters and other professional pursuits. Meanwhile, friends who had shared their experience of raising their family overseas recommended Search Associates. When the time was right, Whitney and Marc began working with Search Associates. She shares what motivates them:
"What we love in teaching is the relationships that carry over time and space. We have built up a community of peers and alum with sincere interests and incredible dreams. Their zest for learning roused us from our routine and set us on this job search."
From a prior experience at international job fairs, Whitney anticipated the overwhelming speed in which things would occur and decisions would have to be made. Thus, she and Marc began preparing in the fall for Search Cambridge. They made a list of goals, wants, and needs and used searchassociates.com to compare schools. Over the winter, they applied to some schools, and a few interviews helped them to refine their vision. By the time they arrived at Search Cambridge, they felt clear and confident. Whitney compares the adrenaline rush of a job fair to an athletic feat!
"Preparing for the speed of the sign up was crucial, it is kind of like getting ready for a marathon, you have to know when to pace yourself and when to speed ahead. Having three minutes to explain who we are and our own teaching vision was actually fun…We did not want recruiters to be confused as to what we bring or what we could be capable of. With that out of the way, it was thoroughly enjoyable to meet recruiters. They have clear visions, amazing stories, everyone there is thoughtful and enthusiastic. It was infectious!"
During the job fair, Whitney and Marc utilized the website often. They were able to schedule interviews on the spot and check schools online as well as in person. The new job fair application allowed both recruiters and candidates alike to schedule interviews. Whitney and Marc narrowed their choices down to three schools-- all completely different yet completely "right" for their vision. Whitney was impressed by the schools' recruiting teams, who showed a sense of camaraderie among themselves while simultaneously setting their personal lives aside to answer all their questions. Whitney says,
"The only problem was that I kind of fell in love with each community and this made our final decision to choose a school a bit difficult."
But Marc and Whitney came to understand that they would have to adjust to a lifestyle different from what they know and that there would more than one "right" school for them. In the end, the Carol Morgan School in the Dominican Republic was their perfect match. Marc will start as Director of Academic Technology, and Whitney will teach freshman English, starting August 2016.
The couple was floored by the support they received, nearly instantly. They made connection upon connection, feeling the magic of the global network. What helped the most was the speed in which recruiters were able to connect them with families already living and teaching at that school. An extensive community of people at the school reached out to them, and through this process they discovered that mentor educators from home had once taught there, and several friends had already lived in this region.
Whitney advises candidates to "follow their bliss" and to set aside preconceived notions about teaching abroad or certain regions of the world. She says, "The world is safer than the news would let us believe." She encourages candidates to get to know as many recruiters as possible because they might want to work with them in the future. She learned of some educators who moved locations because they wished to follow an influential administrator. She says,
"Everyone has a story worth listening to so I like asking questions as much as I do answering them. Be honest. And the hardest advice I had to follow is 'make a choice.' I really found more than one place in the world where I know I would be happy. But I also know that these adventures still await us in the future if we choose to seek them."