In China, the most difficult classroom management problem Glick has faced is boys talking in class. "I'm an old Marine, and occasionally I have to get in a boy's face and tell him to straighten up," Glick says. "These kids are 100 percent respectful so there's never any back talk."
Travel — and free health care
New teacher ambassadors will find life in China comfortable and affordable on salaries that range from $1,000 to $3,000 a month with free health insurance, Glick says. "You can live very well for half the money it would cost you in the States," he adds. (The couple pays $650 a month for a spacious four-bedroom apartment.) Health care is excellent, but China's notorious air pollution is a drawback. "We miss seeing the stars at night," Glick says. Crowded cities also take some adjustment. "If you're a small-town boy like me, the city can be overwhelming. I hate being a pedestrian trying to cross these streets."
During vacations, the couple travels to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other countries while Glick works on a memoir about a Vietnam vet returning to Asia.
The Teacher Ambassador Program puts strong emphasis on training to prepare participants for a major cross-cultural experience, Braman says. Candidates will gather in San Francisco in late July to learn about life in China, the education system, curriculum, parental expectations and local teaching patterns. "We'll start exposing people to Chinese culture with visits to San Francisco's Chinatown, museums and films," he adds. Teachers will also learn how to modify subject area specialties and work with students with varied levels of English fluency.
Once in China, American teachers will stay in touch through an online community and program support plus face-to-face reunions. "We hope our teacher ambassadors will become buddies," Braman says. "These are big cities with big schools — some have 6,000 students. So it's potentially very isolating."
The program includes a $100 nonrefundable application fee. Once accepted, participants pay $3,499 for training and placement costs. A $500 discount is available to people who apply by June 15. For more information go to the United World College-USA website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Pope is a writer based in Portland, Maine.