When even the thought of moving and teaching overseas makes your heart pound and takes your breath away, it’s helpful to remember that your Senior Associate has walked the very same path. Taking a position in an international school involves a big life change and can feel risky, but for our Associates, it has been an invigorating choice that resulted in a rejuvenation of their careers. Here, Nick and Paula Kendell talk about their first experience.
It was 1994. After marrying and buying a house, the Kendells were living paycheck to paycheck on their teachers’ salaries, splurging on fish and chips once a month. Paula says,
“We dreamt of a little adventure before starting a family. I saw a tiny ad in the newspaper for ‘Search Associates- want to teach overseas?’ and couldn’t put the possibilities out of my mind.”
Initially, Nick was “not interested in going anywhere,” but Paula--known for her persistence--convinced him to attend a seminar in their hometown Melbourne to meet Search Associates Founder John Magagna. In early January of the following year, Nick and Paula traveled to Sydney to attend their first job fair, using some frequent flyer points from Nick’s parents. Paula was gung ho:
“I was so nervous, but it was fun interviewing with Nick and after 10 interviews in two days, I was on a roll! We were very lucky to receive multiple job offers then and there, and another couple of offers after the fair. One meeting with a principal involved a phone interview in my nighty-- the principal rang very early in the morning!”
The Kendells wrestled with a tough decision among a number of different schools and locations. There was no easily accessible information on schools or locations in 1995 before the worldwide web. Nick speaks of another (and ironic) challenge:
“Paula was now having cold feet as the reality of the whole move was setting in, and I had to convince her to take a chance and live a little.”
In the end, the Kendells chose Hong Kong. For them, it was a stopover point, and they took comfort in the knowledge that visitors from home were more likely to visit their home at the time. As well, the climate did not seem as extreme as other cities they had been considering.
Since their first move, candidates Nick and Paula Kendell have enjoyed decades of experience in international education. Nick started his international career in 1995 and has since worked across three continents. His journey as an educator has taken him to Hong Kong, Australia, and finally Cairo, where he completed his time as the Head of Primary at the New Cairo British International School. He returned to Australia in 2011 and currently heads the Australia and New Zealand branch of Search Associates. Additionally, he runs the Search Melbourne Fair with Paula and the Search Bangkok Fairs with Senior Associate Harry Deelman and wife Margaret.
It’s interesting to learn which factors were most important for candidates, at different points in their careers and personal lives, when they chose their international teaching positions. For the Kendells, taking that leap of faith two decades ago turned out to be a wonderful journey in international education. They now take pleasure in assisting candidates in finding their dream job traveling the world, just like they have!